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.