2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: September/October

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in September and October:

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

The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBA BC)

Seventeen (17) Dial-A-Law scripts have been updated in October 2017. For a complete list of these resources, see their listing here (sorted by “last reviewed date”).

Legal Services Society

  • First Nations Court Duty Counsel
    Duty counsel is now available at the newest location of First Nations Court: Nicola Valley Indigenous Court (Merritt).
  • Your Gladue Rights
    This new booklet explains Gladue rights, rights under the Criminal Code that apply to anyone who identifies as Aboriginal. Gladue rights can apply at bail and sentencing hearings.
  • Your Welfare Rights: Applying for Welfare Online
    New fact sheet about how to apply for welfare using your computer or mobile phone. Describes the three stages involved and the steps you follow at each stage. Expands on information printed in the booklet How to Apply for Welfare. Available in print and online.
  • Mothers Leaving Abusive Partners: Information on Custody and Access for Women with Children
    This booklet is now available in both traditional and simplified Chinese, French, Punjabi, and Spanish. Describes what abuse is, how to protect yourself and your children, what the courts can do, deciding parenting arrangements, and where to get help and support. Includes a checklist of what to take with you when you leave an abusive relationship.

Wills & Estates Q&A
by People’s Law School

Questions and answers on wills and estates topics. Volunteer legal professionals provide answers to questions from the public relating to personal planning, wills, dealing with death, and settling an estate.

Future Planning Tool
by Plan Institute

This new online tool guides you through the steps of planning for a good life, including financial security, personal network building, estate planning, housing choices and supported decision-making.

Support Person Guidelines: Information Poster
by Provincial Court of BC

An informational poster to help explain the BC Provincial Court’s Support Person Guidelines.

Mothers Without Status
by YWCA Vancouver

This updated booklet is for service providers assisting “mothers without status”. They are women who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. It gives an overview of the issues they face and options they can take. It includes information on where to get help.

Legal Forms Workshop at Vancouver Public Library (Amici Curiae Programme)
by Law Courts Centre

Amici Curiae is offering free one-hour sessions with legal professionals who can help you fill out your forms. Get help with forms for court, human rights, employment issues, residential tenancy, and more. No legal advice will be provided. Anyone can make an appointment by calling: 778.522.2839 or by email: aclegal.vpl@gmail.com.

Northern Navigator
by South Peace Community Resources Society

A system for healing for families going through separation and/or divorce. The goal is to improve access to mediation and other services, provide guidance, direction, and information to families in the Peace. The program works with the Registry and Court so when directed by the Judge or when families choose on their own, families will be provided more options for accessing alternative dispute resolution methods (mainly mediation through a roster of mediators working on a sliding scale).

New and updated Common Questions

Gives you a selection of helpful guides when you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft. It also tells you who to call to report the incident and to ask for more information.

Now includes links to Disability Alliance BC’s blog posts about the new increase to disability rates, the restoration of the bus pass program, and the new transportation supplement.

Stay informed:


Introducing the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic

By Randy Robinson
Peter A. Allard School of Law J.D. CandidateRandy (2)

The Indigenous Community Legal Clinic (“Clinic”) in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (“DTES”) is both a legal clinic and a learning space for law students. The Clinic’s hummingbird logo is a symbol of the work that is undertaken by clinicians at the Clinic. Many Indigenous Peoples view the hummingbird as a communicator of knowledge enabling it to act as an advocate for all creation.

Why join the Clinic?

I am Algonquin of the Timiskaming First Nation in Quebec. I am in the last semester of the Peter A. Allard School of Law’s Juris Doctorate program.  In my early years as a high school student growing up in the DTES, I observed many injustices stemming from the disheartened history of our Indigenous community.

My desire for change towards these inequities led me to enroll. The Clinic enables law students such as myself to experience a strong foundation for law practice through an experiential and legal knowledge curriculum. Clinicians undergo three weeks of rigorous orientation where students meet lawyers and judges from diverse legal fields and practice areas.

Lessons for Law Student Clinicians

IMG_0876During my clinical term I developed skills pertaining to: file management, communication with other parties, working with a supervising lawyer, in depth legal research and writing, trial preparation, criminal and civil litigation, networking with a close knit cohort of clinicians, and creative solution orientated thinking.

An example of the practical learning experiences and legal knowledge that I attained at the Clinic was my work with the Pemberton Circuit Court (“PCC”). Physically attending the PCC after speaking with unrepresented clientele on the court list was crucial to bringing to light the desperate need for legal services in this remote community. Since then the PCC has joined the Clinic’s curriculum. This results in both a greater access to justice for Indigenous Peoples living in remote communities and a comprehensive extension of the Clinic’s services.

As a legal clinician I recognize the value of these practical legal skills and learning experiences. I also recognize that these skills pertain to the possibilities for changing the inequities that I observed in the DTES. However, on a grander scale I also recognize the value in the outstanding experiential knowledge the Clinic curriculum brought to my legal education. During my time at the Clinic this fusion led to valuable insights for understanding and negotiating my present legal education and future legal competencies.  One insight that stands out in my mind is when I met provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout at the Clinic. Judge Rideout aptly described the importance of the role of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter”) in the space of the DTES.

I will approach my future legal studies and practice with the following motto in mind: “Like the hummingbird, first and foremost we must be communicators”.

What does the Clinic offer?

The Clinic exists for two purposes:

  • first, to provide free legal services to the Indigenous community in the DTES, and
  • second, to provide legal education to law students in the Allard School of Law.

We provide advice, assistance and representation to clients who self-identify as Indigenous and who cannot afford a lawyer, on topics ranging from: criminal matters, family law matters, human rights complaints, to Indian Status applications and hearings before certain administrative tribunals.

Please see the Clinic’s listing on the HelpMap for more details and for information on how to contact us.

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Justice Theatre Heads to Haida Gwaii for Restorative Justice Forums

By People’s Law SchoolJustice_Theatre

This fall, the People’s Law School launches the first two of its Access to Restorative Justice Community Forums on the Haida Gwaii Islands. The forums, held in partnership with the Haida Gwaii Restorative Justice Program, will take place in Queen Charlotte City on September 15, 2015 and in Masset the following day. Additional restorative justice forums are scheduled for later in the fall in Prince Rupert and Terrace.

The aim of the community forums is to increase the use of restorative justice processes by victims of crime. The forums plan to address issues such as:

  • How can victims of crime and offenders have better access to the restorative justice approach?
  • What needs to be done to strengthen the relationships between police-based victim services and restorative justice agencies?

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime by addressing the needs of victims, engaging the community in the justice process, and encouraging dialogue and healing. Restorative justice involves bringing together the victim, offender and members of the community to discuss the effects of the crime. At a restorative justice session the focus is on the impact of the crime and how to address the harm that was done.

In this approach, crime is understood not only as breaking the law, but as a violation of people, relationships and a disruption of the peace in the community.

Restorative justice principles draw from Aboriginal experience and tradition, including the belief that the community has primary responsibility for addressing crime.

You can find a description of restorative justice on the JusticeBC website.

Read more

Benefits and Services: Social Assistance on Reserve

Social Assistance on ReserveFood, shelter and clothing: these are the basic necessities that directly impact our quality of life. Meeting basic needs can be a challenge on reservations. If you live on reserve and are struggling to pay for food, shelter and clothing you can apply for social assistance.

The LSS Aboriginal Legal Aid BC website has information to help get you started with an application. Below are highlights from the website; visit the site for more detail:

Who can get social assistance

You must be:

  • an adult (19 or over)
  • live on reserve in BC; and
  • one of the following:
    • a Canadian citizen
    • a permanent resident
    • a Convention refugee, or
    • a sponsored immigrant whose sponsor can’t or won’t provide support. (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will decide whether this is the case.)

What is social assistance?

Social assistance is money and other benefits for people who:

  • live on reserve
  • don’t have enough money to meet their needs
  • have no other reasonable way of getting money

In addition to regular benefits, social assistance benefits can include additional benefits for: people with certain types of physical or mental disabilities, people with medical conditions and people who face undue hardship issues like hunger and eviction. Some of these additional benefits are short-term and time-limited.

Where and how to apply for social assistance benefits

You can apply for social assistance with the band social development worker for the reserve you live on. You can reach them by calling the band office for your reserve.

For more information on the types of benefits, how to apply, and who can help, visit the LSS website here: Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC