#WWV16: Mothers without Legal Status

By YWCA Metro Vancouver

This week, YWCAs across Canada commemorate YWCA Week without Violence, an annual week of violence prevention. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed and share our posts with your networks.


At the YWCA, decades of experience have shown us that when we meet the needs of women on the margins, all women benefit.  It’s why we continue with our advocacy efforts for Mothers without Legal Status. If we can help Mothers without Legal Status feel safe, supported and free from violence, then we are promoting a culture that believes all women should be free from violence.

Mothers without Legal Status are women who do not have permanent status under the Immigration & Refugee Protection Act to stay in Canada, but family court orders prevent their children from leaving the jurisdiction.  Women in this situation face deportation while their children are left with partners who abused them. This hardship is unacceptable, and we work tirelessly to ensure every Mother without Legal Status who comes to us for help is approved to stay in Canada as a Permanent Resident.

While our advocacy efforts alleviate some day-to-day suffering for Mothers without Legal Status, the permanent solution is to change laws so women are no longer ripped away from their children. Our 100% success rate is validating, but it is still no guarantee for these women, who can spend up to three years in limbo. They fear every knock on the door could be Canada Border Services Agency, coming to take them away.

This fear and vulnerability sends many Mothers without Legal Status back to their abusers. Our system renders women dependent on their abusers to secure status in Canada, as it is their abusers who are entering an agreement with the government to have their wives stay in Canada. The abuser controls the sponsorship. He can threaten to withdraw it if she is not compliant, stall document processing or refuse to follow up on requests for more information or documentation.

If we want to end violence against women, we need to prevent a woman’s status in Canada from being tied to her abuser. We need to allow a woman leaving her abusive partner to file her own application, in secret, using the address of a friend, transition house or settlement agency. The applicant should be able to use whatever evidence she has of her abuse, including police or hospital reports, her own statement, information from victim services or other agencies she has sought support from or friends and family who are aware of the abuse. Most importantly, this application must allow her to begin the process of securing financial independence through income assistance and/or employment (and she should not be penalized for her personal path towards economic independence).

This is not a radical idea. This type of program has existed for more than 16 years in the United States and has not created havoc, abuse of the process or increased immigration demands. Creating a similar program here will demonstrate that Canada is serious about ending violence against every person, every day.

Learn more about YWCA programs supporting women leaving abusive relationships.

Contact Us

  • To support YWCA Mothers’ without Legal Status: 604 895 5763 or jrodriguez@ywcavan.org
  • To learn more about our advocacy work: Chantelle Krish, Associate Director of Advocacy and Communications ckrish@ywcavan.org
  • If you are, or know someone who is a mother without legal status in need of individual support, guidance or advocacy: Andrea Vollans, YWCA Legal Educator avollans@ywcavan.org

YWCA Metro Vancouver

ywcavan-logoThe YWCA serves women and families throughout the metropolitan region spanning Burnaby, Surrey, the Tri-cities, Maple Ridge, Langley/Aldergrove, Abbotsford, New Westminster, Richmond and North Vancouver.

Our mission is to touch lives and build better futures for women and their families through advocacy and integrated services that foster economic independence, wellness and equal opportunities.

Our resources on Clicklaw include:mothers-without-status-booklet

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Oct. 2016 – Events (Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby, online)





  • cubdy5cwaaa1z79Hear the PovNet story at the Vancouver launch of Storming the Digital Divide, Monday, October 177pm – 9:30pm. Our Town Cafe, 245 E. Broadway (@ Kingsway) The cafe and washroom are wheelchair accessible.




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World Cerebral Palsy Day

Adapted from Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

There are over 10,000 people living with cerebral palsy in British Columbia.

Cerebral Palsy Association of BC was started in 1954 by a group of parents who wanted to assist their children living with CP to reach their maximum potential within society. We provide support, education, and information throughout BC. Our resources on Clicklaw include:

wcpd16_logo_world_hi-res-300x167World CP Day is a movement of people with cerebral palsy and their families, and the organizations that support them, in more than 50 countries. The goal of World CP Day is to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP) have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen.

In recognition of World CP Day 2016, the Government of British Columbia and cities and towns across the province have agreed to proclaim “World CP Day” and the province’s major landmarks will be lighting up green, the official colour of CP.

This map shows the governments that are proclaiming World CP Day and the landmarks that will be lit up on October 5th.

How to use the map: You can zoom in or out. Click any icon to show more about that proclamation or landmark. Click the button in the top left to bring up a list of all of the locations recognizing World CP Day.

Cerebral Palsy Association of BC

Our Mission is:

  • To raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy in the community;
  • To assist those living with Cerebral Palsy to reach their maximum potential; and
  • To work to see those living with Cerebral Palsy recognize their place as equals in a diverse society.


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Get legal info at your local library

By Shannon McLeod
LawMatters Program Coordinator

October is only a few days away, and it is Canadian Library Month, an excellent opportunity to recognize the role public libraries play in providing legal information to their communities.lmlogo

Since 2007, Courthouse Libraries BC has been proud to partner with BC’s public libraries through the LawMatters program. Supported by the Law Foundation of British Columbia, LawMatters is Courthouse Libraries BC’s outreach program for public librarians.

Through this partnership we are working to enhance public access to legal information in all communities across British Columba.

The LawMatters program focuses on four main areas to help support public libraries:


Financial assistance is given to all public libraries that choose to participate through our grants program. Grants are distributed annually to help purchase legal information and reference materials.

Collection Support

We provide libraries with a core list of titles to use as a guide for selecting and ordering materials. The list is evaluated annually for currency and accuracy. We are also available to offer suggestions and work with librarians to support local collection needs.

Working with Clicklaw Wikibooks, LawMatters has previously distributed print copies of Clicklaw Wikibook titles Legal Help for British Columbians, JP Boyd on Family Law, and Dial-A-Law free of charge to libraries throughout BC to support legal collections.

Skills Development

We offer training sessions to public librarians to improve their confidence helping the public with legal information questions. This includes how to use legal resources, the basics of legal research, and general legal reference skills.


Our goal is to increase access to legal information for all communities in BC and empower librarians and to provide legal information, reference, and referral.

We aim to build community capacity through partnerships which we continue to explore with libraries and other organizations. We encourage and consult with public libraries to host community forums to connect with local organizations that work with the public to help them find legal information.

For more information on the growing role of public libraries and public librarians as partners in access to justice, see “LawMatters at Your Local Public Library; A History of BC’s Program for Public Legal Information and Education in Public Libraries.”

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Talks on Access to Justice

What is the biggest problem facing the legal profession? The Chief Justice of Canada says it is access to justice. Research suggests that almost half of Canadian adults will experience a significant legal problem over a three year period, but very few will find legal services to deal with that problem. So why doesn’t access to justice (“A2J”) have a higher public profile?

Find out how and why this problem touches the lives of a majority of Canadians not just now, but throughout their lives.

Not in Vancouver? The following talk will be livestreamed at Why Don’t we Have Appropriate Access to Justice?, and livetweeted using #justicetalks.  This and future talks will also be available as podcasts.


Why Don’t We Have Appropriate Access to Justice?

When: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 @ 5-6:30pma2j_talk_01

Where: Green College, Coach House

What: What stands in the way of adequate access to justice? The Honourable Thomas Cromwell, recently retired from the Supreme Court of Canada and chair of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters will share his thoughts on why we still do not have appropriate access to justice in civil and family matters and provide a brief update on some promising initiatives. Panel: Jennifer Muller, former self-represented litigant; Dan Baxter, Director of Policy Development, Government & Stakeholder Relations for the BC Chamber of Commerce

Cost: All talks are open to the public without charge.


Access to Justice and Sexual Violence

When: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 5-6:30pma2j_talk_002

Where: Green College, Coach House

Who: Janine Benedet, Centre for Feminist Legal Studies, Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC
Tracy Pickett, Medicine, UBC

Cost: All talks are open to the public without charge.


Access to Justice and Indigenous Laws

When: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 @ 5-6:30pm

Where: Green College, Coach House

Who: Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance, Law, University of Victoria
Hadley Friedland, Law, University of Alberta

Cost: All talks are open to the public without charge.


For more information on all events:

www.greencollege.ubc.ca or gc.events@ubc.ca

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BCLI seeks your views on complex stratas

BCLI carries out scholarly research, writing and analysis for law reform, collaborating with government and other entities, and providing materials and support for outreach and public information.

by Kevin Zakreski
Staff Lawyer & Corporate Secretary

The British Columbia Law Institute wants to hear from you about its proposals to reform the Strata Property Act.

With the help of a volunteer project committee, BCLI is carrying out a multi-year project on strata-property law. The committee has just released its Consultation Paper on Complex Stratas (PDF).

Strata-property law started out as a way to encourage the development of high-density residential housing. Over time, stratas became increasingly complex. They have become more architecturally varied, incorporating different building styles. For example, a single strata development may have an apartment tower, surrounded by townhouses and other low-rise buildings. More and more, stratas are also combining different uses. It’s become common to see mixed-use stratas with retail and commercial uses on the lower floors and residential uses above.

These complex stratas have many benefits. They create variety in the marketplace. They support amenities that owners enjoy. And they advance urban-planning goals.

But complex stratas also create some problems. The bulk of these problems center on money.

It’s expensive to develop a large, sophisticated strata property. If it had to be done all in one go, only the biggest real-estate developers would be able to do it. And once a complex strata is up and running, the owners of strata lots being used for different purposes often have different ideas about how to spend the strata’s money and how to operate the strata. For example, commercial owners might need things like extra trash pickups and security patrols that don’t benefit residential owners. The residential owners may wonder why they should have to contribute to paying for these services.

The Strata Property Act uses three devices to manage these problems. These three devices are sections, types, and phases. They are at the heart of the consultation paper.

Sections and types allow a strata corporation to manage cost sharing between groups of owners, while phases permit the development of a strata property in segments over an extended time. Sections, types, and phases all entered the law in the 1970s. They haven’t been comprehensively reviewed since that time.

The committee considered some bold ideas to reform the law. It debated abolishing sections and greatly expanding the role of types. It looked at fundamentally changing the government oversight that attaches to phases.

In the end, the committee decided to not to propose bold changes. It proposes keeping the current framework, but with some significant fine tuning.

The consultation paper has 68 tentative recommendations for reform, including:

  • 29 tentative recommendations on sections, which propose clarifying the procedures for creating and cancelling sections, spelling out section powers and duties, and strengthening section governance, budgets, and finances;
  • 14 tentative recommendations on types, which propose clarifying the procedures for creating and cancelling types and fine-tuning the operation of types; and
  • 25 tentative recommendations on phases, which propose enhancing the oversight of the phasing process, simplifying governance in a phased strata corporation, and providing additional protections for the financial interests of owners in a phased strata property.

The committee would like to hear your thoughts on all 68 of its proposals. But if you would rather just focus on the big picture, then you may be interested in the summary consultation. It has just three highlighted proposals for comment.

You can find the full consultation paper, the summary consultation, and instructions on how to participate in the consultation on Strata Property Law Project—Phase Two webpage.

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BC Family Justice Innovation Lab Official Launch

logo_bcfamilyjusticeinnovationlabBy Kari Boyle
Coordinator, BC Family Justice Innovation Lab

Adapted from this post.

What is the Lab?

The Lab is not a place, an organization or a product.  It is a space.  A space for taking new approaches to family justice innovation in BC.  It is a space for diverse groups of people to work together with the support and tools they need.

Who is working on the Lab?

Our Core Lab Team is described here.  I have the privilege of the “Coordinator” title but we are all working as a team to keep moving forward.

Why is the Lab important? 

Previous family justice reforms have not resulted in the kind of transformational change that is really needed to make the system accessible and effective for BC families.  It remains too complex, too expensive and too time-consuming.  A new approach is needed.  A small group of us looked outside the justice system for inspiration and were excited to learn about “lab” approaches being used in other sectors to effect meaningful social change.  This approach is different because it is:

  • family-centred (not just in words but in action)
  • systemic
  • participatory
  • experimental

It is focused on action rather than creating another report with recommendations for what others should do to make things better.  We have enough reports.  We will aim to experiment, including with prototyping, and to take a “learn as you go” approach while still ensuring we have robust evaluation data.

There are many different kinds of labs.  This Lab will focus on using a combination of human-centred design approaches and system thinking (coined “systemic design”).  Human-centred design places the people who will be using the innovation at the centre of the innovation design process. It is a fast-paced, experimental process that taps into people’s innate creativity, and has four iterative steps – empathy, definition, ideation and prototyping.  System thinking acknowledges that the BC family justice system is a complex adaptive system and encourages multi-disciplinary engagement with people across the “system” defined broadly i.e. all of the pieces that families encounter while taking their journey through separation and divorce.  As M. Jerry McHale Q.C. said early in our exploration, “this is not a justice issue with some social aspects, this is a social issue with a few justice aspects”.

We believe that the Lab will be able to pursue change in new ways that individual justice organizations cannot do by themselves.  In so doing, we aim to support and amplify their efforts to improve the BC justice system.  We are also committed to supporting and collaborating with the Access to Justice BC.

This is a learning journey.  We don’t have everything figured out but we are confident that we can help if we start, if we engage with others, if we are open to creative ideas, and if we really try to see the system from the perspective of those we exist to serve.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to participate in the Lab in some way.  Follow us on Twitter (@BCFamInnovLab) and use the “contact us” feature on our website and we will get back to you. Thank you.

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Sept. 2016 – Events (Victoria, Vancouver, online)

  • 0x_adviceathonAccess Pro Bono is holding their annual Free Legal Advice-a-Thon. They’re wrapping up this year’s event in Victoria, Centennial Square this Friday, September 16, from 10am to 2pm.


  • srl_supportThe National SRL Support NetworkVancouver Branch, is holding their next meeting for people representing themselves in Family or Civil Court next Monday, September 19, from 6-8pm at Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre. Attendees should RSVP to NSSN.vancouver@gmail.com.






  • People’s Law School is holding their open house on Thursday, September 22 from 11am – 3pm at their 150-900 Howe Street location. Learn about wills and get a Justice Theatre Presentation on online bullying. Advanced registration is required. Call 604-331-5400.



  • 0x_bcinfosummitRegister now for the BC Information Summit! The event is organized BC FIPA, and will have expert speakers (including speakers from organizations like BCCLA) who are involved in how the world of freedom of information and privacy is changing. Thursday, September 22, 8:15am – 5pm.



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2016 Bi-monthly Update Series: July-August 2016

In our 2015 year-end update, we promised to provide bimonthly updates to new resources and services added to Clicklaw in those two months. Here is a sample from the changes in July and August:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec

lss-logoLegal Aid Community Outreach
by Legal Services Society

The following community partners have important changes:

  • Boston Bar First Nation – this location is temporarily closed
  • Lytton First Nation – see the new address posted
  • Vernon Women’s Transition House Society – see the new phone number posted

BC_Centre_for_Elder_Advocacy_and_Support_LogoSeniors’ Legal Clinic
by BC Centre for Elder Advocacy & Support (BC CEAS)

New locations added in Burnaby, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Surrey, and Vancouver’s West End. BC CEAS now offers legal services at those locations once a month. See the schedule posted.

EFry_logoElizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver

Since 1939, EFry has been providing support to incarcerated or at risk women, as well as their children. Services include assisting clients in understanding and navigating the court process at the Downtown Community Court and supporting girls in custody at the Burnaby Youth Custody Centre.

BC_Ombudsperson_logoBC Ombudsperson

The Ombudsperson can conduct impartial and confidential investigations to determine if a public agency is being fair to the people it serves. Their services are provided free of charge.

Family_Law_in_BC_postcardsFamily Law in BC: Quick Reference Tool
by Legal Services Society

This set of postcards has been updated. They are available online or in print.



Options for Parents and Families: Collaborative Planning and Decision-Making in Child Welfare
by BC Ministry of Children and Family Development

This two-page booklet briefly describes different kinds of shared decision-making, and some of the ways that you can be involved in planning when a child welfare worker has concerns about your child’s safety.

bcgovPermanent Transfer of Custody of a Child to Someone Familiar in BC
by BC Ministry of Children and Family Development

When a temporary placement for a child is not possible, the alternative could be transferring custody to the caregiver by adoption or a court order. This page briefly describes the conditions, guardian’s responsibilities, financial support, rights, access orders, and future legal matters.

cropped-clicklaw_logo_postit.pngClicklaw’s Find Someone to Talk With

The list of toll-free phone numbers for law-related help in BC has been updated.

Clicklaw HelpMap

Most visited HelpMap services in July & August:

  1. Family Justice Centres
  2. Court Registries
  3. UBC Law Students Legal Advice Clinics
  4. Access Pro Bono Clinics
  5. LSS Provincial Court Family Duty Counsel

Free Webinar Training: Strata Property Disputes & the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Cross-posted from the LawMatters Blog.

As of July 2016, most strata property disputes must be resolved using the new online Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). Join us for a free webinar for community workers, advocates and public librarians:

Register: Civil Resolution Tribunal Intake Process
Presented by CRT Chair, Shannon Salter
September 8, 12:30-1:30pm PDT

The online Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) is up and running to resolve strata (condominium) property disputes. This session will show you how to use the CRT’s online information and application systems, and answer some common questions about how to help your clients use the CRT. The webinar will be recorded and made available after the presentation to help users navigate this fantastic tool.


The CRT’s goal is to improve access to justice by using technology to provide accessible and affordable dispute resolution services. As a first step, the CRT’s Solution Explorer software application provides free legal information and self-help tools. You can access the Solution Explorer here. These tools help to diagnose problems and resolve them through information, videos, and template letters that are directly relevant to the dispute.

Accessible 24/7 from computers and smartphones, the Solution Explorer helps people resolve their disputes without having to go to court or use the CRT process.

If people cannot resolve a dispute themselves using these tools, they can begin a CRT claim from within the Solution Explorer. The CRT then issues a notice package, which the applicant serves on the other parties to the dispute. The claim goes through a facilitation phase, where a dispute resolution expert works with the parties to achieve an agreement between the parties. If this is not possible, an expert, independent tribunal member will make a binding decision after a hearing. This CRT decision is enforceable as a court order.

Check out our previous CRT webinar for a refresher on the Solution Explorer!

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