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Canada’s A2J Week events promote truth, reconciliation, affordable justice for all | Julie Sobowale

Monday, October 25, 2021 @ 11:54 AM | By Julie Sobowale

Julie Sobowale %>
Julie Sobowale
The second annual National Access to Justice Week is taking place Oct. 25 to 29, in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. This year’s theme is inclusivity with a focus on truth and reconciliation. Each province will host free, virtual events highlighting community justice work in Canada and the importance of inclusivity in providing legal services.

In addition to a full lineup of local events, Access to Justice Week will kick off on Oct. 25 with a number of events focused on truth and reconciliation. The Law Society in Ontario (LSO) will host a session about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. This session, moderated by treasurer Teresa Donnelly, explores the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action relevant to the justice sector and examines the unique cultural, historical and socioeconomic barriers that continue to impact Indigenous Peoples’ access to and interaction with the Canadian justice system.

The Law Society of Manitoba presents Access to Justice: Indigenous Perspectives, a conversation with the Murray Sinclair; Bradley Regehr, 2020-2021 Canadian Bar Association (CBA) president and first Indigenous president in CBA history; Dr. Cindy Blackstock, executive director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; and special guest speaker Dr. Pamela Palmater. Later in the day, the LSO will host Building blocks: Towards cultural competency in the justice sector, which explores the TRC’s Calls to Action 27 and 28 around building cultural competency training for lawyers and law students.

On Oct. 27, the Law Society of Saskatchewan will present Developing and engaging in a Reconciliation mapping exercise, as part of its commitment to implementing the TRC Calls to Action. The program was developed and will be facilitated by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) to determine a baseline of reconciliation efforts and support the development of recommendations for forward progress.

The OTC has worked with partner organizations to develop a common vision for successful truth and reconciliation and a methodology for guiding and measuring progress in Saskatchewan aimed at inspiring action, informing reconciliation learning and increasing collective impact. The OTC has identified indicators to measure progress based on foundational reports such as the TRC Calls to Action, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These indicators have been used to create a logic or outcomes model for determining a possible path that an individual, an organization and society can grow towards. In turn, a growth model summarizes the logic model into a series of steps for the advancement of truth and reconciliation, starting with capacity change and moving to behavioural change and then systems change.

Other highlights include the Atlantic provinces’ Rural access to justice panel on Oct. 27 and the Alberta panel discussing disability justice on Oct. 28. Lawyers and members of the public are welcome to attend programming, free of charge. Space is limited so advance registration is required.

Full schedules of local activities and more information about access to justice initiatives are available on the following provincial websites: Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week, Alberta Access to Justice Week and Ontario Access to Justice Week.

Canada’s Access to Justice Week is a collaborative national event supported by CREATE Justice at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, Law Society of Saskatchewan, CBA  Alberta, the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, Law Society of Ontario and the Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia.

Julie Sobowale is director of communications for the Law Society of Saskatchewan.

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