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Developed by the Black Lives Matter Global Network, this toolkit was created to collate, condense and share the lessons we have learned in ensuring that our direct actions are centered on healing justice. We extend our gratitude to the BLM Healing Justice Working Group and all the chapter members who shared your insights, your innovations and your struggles to support our shared knowledge.
The number one thing that community members contact us for is legal support. While we may not have all the expertise within our group of grassroots activists, we do know of some legal resources you can access. Thank you to the lawyers who helped us to put this list together.
- Know Your Rights Activist Toolkit
Black-centred legal organizations
Black Legal Action Centre
The Black Legal Action Centre is a non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario. The organization also provides test case litigation for issues impacting Black communities in Canada.
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), formed in March 1996, is a national network of law professionals and individuals committed to reinvesting in the community. You can use their website to find a Black lawyer in Canada.
- Black Legal Action Centre
The British Columbia Law Union and the Law Union of Ontario are progressive organizations comprised of legal professionals seeking to use legal expertise to support social change. The above linked websites contain valuable information about legal resources in British Columbia and Ontario.
Human Rights Commissions
Canadian Human Rights Commission
The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977 protects people in Canada from discrimination when they are employed by or receive services from the federal government, First Nations governments or private companies that are regulated by the federal government such as banks, trucking companies, broadcasters and telecommunications companies. People can turn to the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect themselves against harassment or discrimination when based on one or more grounds of discrimination such as race, age and sexual orientation. Anyone who works for or receives services from a business or organization that is regulated by the federal government can make a complaint.
Provincial Human Rights Agencies
Provincial and territorial human rights laws share many similarities with the Canadian Human Rights Act and apply many of the same principles. They are meant to protect people from discrimination in areas such as restaurants, stores, schools, housing and most workplaces. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has a list of provincial agencies that can be viewed at the link above.
- Canadian Human Rights Commission
Legal Aid, pro bono and low-income legal options
JusticeNet is a not-for-profit service helping people in need of legal expertise, whose income is too high to access legal aid and too low to afford standard legal fees.
Pro Bono Canada
Pro Bono Canada supports pro bono programs that deliver free legal services annually to more than 36,000 low- income Canadians who have nowhere else to turn. These programs assist self-represented litigants, vulnerable children, survivors of domestic abuse and victims of fraud and elder abuse. At the link above, you will find pro bono resources in specific provinces.
Legal Aid British Columbia
Legal Aid BC is a non-profit organization created by the Legal Services Society (LSS) Act in 1979 to provide legal information, advice, and representation services. Its priority is to serve the interests of people with low incomes, but many of its services are available to all British Columbians.
Legal Aid Alberta
Legal Aid Alberta provides legal services and expertise to individuals and the legal community to support fairness in the justice system. Through professional, effective and accessible services in support of Albertans and their justice system, it is uniquely able to operate as a Centre of Excellence in Alberta’s justice system.
It is an independent, publicly funded, not-for-profit organization that provides a broad range of services in family law and child welfare, adult criminal law, youth criminal law, immigration and refugee law and civil legal areas.
Legal Aid Saskatchewan
Legal Aid Saskatchewan is governed by the Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission which was created through the provincial Legal Aid Act. This was created to provide legal services to persons and organizations for criminal and civil matters where those persons and organizations are financially unable to secure these services from their own resources.
Legal Aid Manitoba
Legal Aid Manitoba (LAM) works to ensure that eligible Manitobans have access to justice, including those who are disadvantaged and facing a well-resourced individual or entity in court—from women fleeing abusive relationships to immigrants facing deportation to same-sex families fighting for inclusion.
Legal Aid Ontario
Legal Aid Ontario is a publicly funded non-profit corporation. Legal Aid Ontario provides legal aid services to low-income individuals in the province of Ontario through duty counsel, community legal clinics, public legal education, summary legal advice, alternative dispute resolution, self-help materials and legal representation.
There are 59 general legal clinics and seven student legal aid services societies across Ontario. These clinics mainly focus on:
- Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program
- disputes between tenants and landlords
- social housing matters
- Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement
- wrongful dismissal and other employment issues
Click the link above for a full list of legal clinics.
Legal Aid Ontario’s Specialty Clinics provides services for people of specific identities or who are experiencing particular problems. The Black Legal Action Centre is one of LAO’s Specialty Clinics. There are also clinics for tenants and the elderly, for example. For a full list, please click the link above.
- Legal Clinics
Legal Aid Quebec
Legal aid is a government legal service offered to people who meet certain financial eligibility criteria and apply for the service. Legal aid is provided free of charge or with a contribution from the recipient. Every year, legal aid provides thousands of Québecers with access to justice and the means to defend their rights.
New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission
The NBLASC provides legal assistance to low income individuals for certain family and criminal matters.
Nova Scotia Legal Aid
Nova Scotia Legal Aid provides some level of help to all Nova Scotians with a focus on providing support for the most vulnerable and historically disadvantaged including First Nations Peoples, African Nova Scotians, Immigrants and economically disadvantaged persons. Examples of our focus are our Aboriginal Justice Plan and our focus on Social Justice to assist with those whose income or housing are at risk.
Legal Aid Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island Legal Aid is an access to justice program, providing legal representation and assistance to low income individuals who have serious legal needs in the areas of criminal law, youth criminal justice, or family and civil law. The program has a staff of nine full-time lawyers with offices in Charlottetown and Summerside.
Legal Aid Newfoundland and Labrador
Legal aid Newfoundland and Labrador is a free program available to help people with serious legal problems who are in financial need and cannot afford private counsel.
Legal Services Board of Nunavut
The Legal Services Board of Nunavut is responsible for providing legal services to financially eligible Nunavummiut in the areas of criminal, family and civil law.
Legal Aid Northwest Territories
The legal aid program provides confidential legal services, advice, and representation by a lawyer for residents of the Northwest Territories who would be unable to afford these services.
Yukon Legal Services Society
Yukon Legal Services Society (YLSS) is Yukon’s legal aid service provider. If you need a lawyer but cannot afford to pay, YLSS may be able to help by providing a lawyer at no cost or at a very low cost to you. YLSS exists to provide low-income individuals living in the Yukon have access to justice by providing quality legal aid services and by supporting other Yukon justice programs helping low-income individuals.