In 2019, PBSC won the American College of Trial Lawyers' prestigious Emil Gumpert Award to create Canada's first-ever Indigenous Human Rights Program.
PBSC and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres are creating an Indigenous inter-cultural competency and human rights training program for lawyers and law students, and establishing two free human rights legal clinics. The human rights clinics will be housed within Indigenous Friendship Centres in Toronto and Ottawa.
The Indigenous Human Rights Program is guided by an Advisory Council which includes Elders, representation from urban Indigenous communities, and representation from project partners the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, and McCarthy Tétrault.
The clinics will be staffed by volunteer lawyers and PBSC law students and will provide free summary legal advice and referrals in the area of human rights under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to all people who self-identify as Indigenous. Law students will also deliver free information sessions about human rights.
The clinics will launch in January 2021.
In Ontario, 85.5% of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people live in urban or rural areas.
In one study, 77.6% of respondents reported that racism against Indigenous people by non-Indigenous people is a problem in cities.
In order to advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the TRC calls on lawyers and law students to be trained in inter-cultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
Photo by Fallon Benson for PBSC National
The Indigenous Human Rights podcast is produced by Pro Bono Students Canada's Indigenous Human Rights Program. We're a group of law students shining a light on the experiences of Indigenous people at human rights tribunals across Canada. Listen and learn what it's really like to fight for your rights in the colonial legal system. Our podcast is sponsored by Thomson Reuters, PBSC's National Research Partner.
EPISODE 1 Deborah Campbell: Acts of resistance in the colonial human rights system
In our first-ever episode, we talk to Cree and Métis-Cree lawyers Amber Prince and Myrna McCallum about their experiences representing Deborah Campbell, an Indigenous mother who took the Vancouver Police to the BC Human Rights Tribunal. In 2019, she won her case, and we've all got a lot to learn from it.
EPISODE 2 Crystal Smith: A mother's fight to protect the right to smudge
In our second episode, we talk to Crystal Smith, a member of the Tsimshian and Haisla Nations and a mother, artist, activist, and teacher. She tells us about the time her landlord tried to evict her for smudging in her apartment with her children, and the long road she travelled to fight for her family's cultural rights. Crystal won her case at the BC Human Rights Tribunal in 2020, paving the way for a better future for her kids and many others.