OTTAWA, ON JANUARY 25, 2022 –
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), and the Odawa Native Friendship Centre (ONFC) are proud to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Indigenous Human Rights Clinic (clinic) located at the ONFC in Ottawa.
Launched on January 25, 2021, the clinic is part of the Indigenous Human Rights Program, a partnership between PBSC and the OFIFC created to combat anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination. Under the guidance of an Advisory Council, the program launches and operates free human rights legal clinics with and within Friendship Centres in Ontario.
As stated by Randy Mayes, the Executive Director of the ONFC: “The PBSC clinic connects our community and staff with much-needed legal advice about human rights on a weekly basis. This is a valuable resource for our staff and community members and we look forward to continuing to work with PBSC and law students at the University of Ottawa.”
The clinic at the ONFC is managed by PBSC and staffed by law students from the University of Ottawa and volunteer lawyers. All of the lawyers and law students receive Indigenous Cultural Competency training from the OFIFC and training focused on anti-oppression practices and trauma informed lawyering. As with all PBSC initiatives, student leadership is deeply valued and cultivated within the Indigenous Human Rights Program.
“I am part of the Indigenous community, and I have seen first-hand how this clinic can build our community’s knowledge about human rights and empower individuals to make decisions about their rights,” said Angel Larkman, a University of Ottawa law student who has worked for the ONFC clinic since its inception. “I am excited to see the clinic grow.”
The ONFC clinic is the first clinic launched under the Indigenous Human Rights Program, and its success provides a roadmap for working with other Friendship Centres to launch more clinics across Ontario. As Gertie Mai Muise, Executive Director at the OFIFC, states: “I would like to congratulate the Odawa Native Friendship Centre on providing this unique and critical service to the urban Indigenous community in Ottawa. Advancing Indigenous human rights continues to be a priority of the Ontario Friendship Centre Movement and we are pleased to celebrate the success of the IHRP.”
The Indigenous Human Rights Program received seed funding from the American College of Trial Lawyers’ Emil Gumpert Award, and today, the program is generously funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario Access to Justice Fund. The program also receives significant support from its partners, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, and Osgoode Hall Law School.
About Pro Bono Students Canada
PBSC envisions a society with accessible legal systems, where the dignity and rights of every person are upheld. Each year, PBSC engages approximately 1,500 student volunteers who work with community partners and under the supervision of pro bono lawyers and notaries to directly serve an estimated 12,000 people across Canada. The organization is guided by the three core values of dignity, equity, and humility. Visit PBSC’s website to learn more.
About Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
The OFIFC is a provincial Indigenous organization representing the collective interests of 29 member Friendship Centres located in towns and cities throughout Ontario. The OFIFC is the largest urban Indigenous service network in the province supporting a vibrant, diverse, and quickly-growing urban Indigenous population through programs and initiatives that span justice, health, family support, long-term care, healing and wellness, employment and training, education, research, and more. Visit the OFIFC’s website to learn more.
About Odawa Native Friendship Centre
The ONFC is a non-profit organization serving the Indigenous community in the Ottawa-Carleton Region of Eastern Ontario and surrounding communities. Opened in 1975, the ONFC offers various programs and services to people of all ages and is a place where “Everyone Is Welcome”. For over three decades, ONFC volunteers, Board of Directors, committee members, and staff have worked diligently to ensure that the ONFC positively affects the quality of life for Indigenous people in the Capital Region. A tradition of community, development, and traditional teachings from Elders are important values. Visit the ONFC’s website to learn more.
Julia Tousaw Program Manager, Indigenous Human Rights Program firstname.lastname@example.org 416-978-1295