SUBMITTED BY BOB WOOD
The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic (HCLC) continues to be active on social justice initiatives in Hamilton and across the country. Two recent efforts stand out.
Celebration of African Canadian Heritage
In February a celebration of African Canadian heritage took place at the Hamilton Central Library.
The event was billed as Know Your Rights: Access to Justice for the African-Canadian Community Connaissez – Vos droits: L’accès à la justice pour la communauté Afro-Canadienne.
The bilingual event focussed on Access to Justice for the Black Community and dealt with education law, housing law, human rights, criminal law & police complaints, child protection and mental health law.
Panel members spoke to these topics and worked in conversation circles with the more than one hundred participants who attended.
Call for Inquiry
Several years ago the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic embarked on a collaborative journey with Aboriginal agencies and networks.
The program that was developed, called YÉN:TENE, works to improve access to justice for Indigenous people in Hamilton and surrounding communities.
In that context, we felt compelled to address the death of Colten Boushie and the Justice’s system response to it.
In 2016, twenty-two old Boushie died in Saskatchewan after being shot by Gerald Stanley. Stanley, charged with second-degree murder was acquitted on February 9th.
Along with other Indigenous Justice Coordinators (IJC’s) in Southwest Ontario, we have written to Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. We have asked for an inquiry into Colten Boushie’s death. We want the treatment of Boushie’s family that occurred during the investigation process looked into as well.
We have called for funding of Indigenous law institutes. These institutes would promote the development, use, and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique. That call is spelled out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions’ Call to Action #50.
“Indigenous people in Canada should never feel we are part of a disposable population. We should never feel unsafe or targeted on our own land. The Gerald Stanley verdict has contributed to the escalating feeling of hopelessness and vulnerability that we feel in this country. There is hopelessness and vulnerability in a legal system that has proven over and over again to not work for us, notes Lyndon George, IJC with YÉN:TENE of the HCLC.
The IJC’s are seeking endorsements from other organizations.
Bob Wood is a Community Worker at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. More information on the initiatives
described above can be found at www.hamiltonjustice.ca