Legal Education for Newcomers
Calgary’s open invitation to migrants to settle in the region has created a mosaic of different cultures and communities, which makes this city one of the more multicultural in the region. However, immigrants are likely to face multiple barriers to integration into society, including being unfamiliar with the Canadian and Alberta legal systems and being less likely to identify legal situations accurately and meet their legal needs.
In many cases, members of these under-represented groups do not have general legal knowledge of fundamental rights and laws, entitlements, obligations, and responsibilities. Many are also unaware of ways to avoid or prevent legal problems, making them vulnerable to victimization. Even those who have lived in Canada for many years may still experience difficulties understanding the legal processes and institutions of the Canadian and Alberta Justice systems or do not have the skills or confidence to access them.
Although many private and public institutions have created material to help these individuals access and navigate the Canadian and Alberta complex legal systems, many cultural and language barriers still prevent many people from properly accessing and using our legal system.
We propose to take existing material and use our expertise to adapt them to be more cultural and language-appropriate for members of underrepresented groups to increase their knowledge and confidence to access and navigate the legal system.
Many individuals with tight family budgets hesitate to explore or even take legal action because they think the only way to do it is by retaining a lawyer. Our idea is to adapt and produce easy-to-read and easy-to-understand material, available in multiple languages, culturally adapted, and accessible to anyone, guiding individuals through the most common will and states, family and civil law scenarios and court procedures. This material will not only allow individuals to understand which legal process they can do and how but also will indicate when and how is recommended or necessary the intervention of a legal professional.
This proposal aims to support members of underrepresented groups to increase their general legal knowledge and confidence in accessing and navigating our legal system to avoid victimization and empower them. It also recommends the best moments to connect with a legal professional and prevent further complications.
Who Will it Benefit?
These materials will be used directly to benefit clients who access Diversecities’ Law & Advocacy Program, which targets individuals with language, cultural and financial barriers who face challenges in accessing and navigating the Canadian and Alberta Justice Systems and have a limited or non-existent understanding of Canadian laws. Because of the organization's history, Diversecities' Law & Advocacy Program has developed language and cultural expertise in providing services to members of the Chinese community. However, With the organization's rebranding into Diversecities, and the development of these materials, the organization will continue to maintain a particular focus on the Chinese community as our primary target population while developing internal capacities and community collaboration to support members of the Afghan, Ukrainian, and Latin American communities, among others, through language and culturally appropriate services.
Diversecities’ law & Advocacy program annually serves over 800 clients through direct one-on-one services and over 2000 clients through general phone inquiries. In addition to that, once completed, all the material adapted and produced will be available in digital format at Diversecities’ website in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Spanish, Tagalog and Russian, and it will be distributed through community newsletters and other non-profit organizations to increase their community outreach.