Ontario’s Second Annual Access to Justice Week Launches as Saskatchewan’s Ends

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By Sabreena Delhon, Manager of External Engagement and TAG at the Law Society of Upper Canada

As Saskatchewan’s second annual Access to Justice Week ends, this week marks the second annual Access to Justice Week in Ontario. Organized by The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) with 12 partners, this year’s program examines community driven initiatives, public legal education innovations and mental health in the legal profession.

In addition to a range of learning and engagement opportunities, this year we released Millennials, Technology and Access to Justice, a new report that presents findings from a survey of 1,000 Ontario residents aged 18 to 36. Understanding more about this generation’s expectations and experiences of the justice system will help us make informed and modern justice system improvements.

Last year’s Access to Justice Week program in Ontario provided a platform to diversify participants in the access to justice conversation. We wanted to keep these conversations going so we created a podcast called Architects of Justice. Released in September, the first season of the podcast explores how people are finding new ways to improve access to justice. The 15-minute episodes feature different perspectives, recent research findings and a story.

A second season of the podcast will be released in 2018 and episodes will be shaped by discussions from this year’s Access to Justice Week program.

Catch up on this year’s Access to Justice Week in Ontario with our hashtag #A2J2017.


The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) was established by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2015 to facilitate better coordination and collaboration across the justice sector. It is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Sabreena Delhon is the Manager of External Engagement and TAG at the Law Society of Upper Canada. Follow her on Twitter @SabreenaDelhon.


Happy First Birthday CREATE

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By The Hon. Thomas Cromwell
Chair, Action Committee of Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters
Honourary Fellow, CREATE Justice

This time last year I was in Saskatoon during Access to Justice Week, celebrating the launch of CREATE Justice. On its first anniversary, I congratulate everyone on taking this meaningful steps towards understanding and acting on the A2J crisis in Saskatchewan.

CREATE Justice was established in response to the call to action issued by the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. As the Chair of that Committee, I’m pleased to see concrete steps to meet this call. The Action Committee’s Roadmap for Change called for more centres of excellence to foster research and understanding about the challenges people face when accessing the justice system. CREATE Justice does just that by facilitating research, evaluation and action on the issue. Its focus on gaps in data in research, coordinated with efforts in other provinces and territories, will help to build a meaningful picture of the issues and pressures people face. CREATE Justice, based at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law has also offered an invitation to researchers to work collaboratively under the banner of A2J research, helping to raise the profile of the issue.

This year’s A2J Week, with more programming and events, is an obvious testament to the collaboration underway in the legal community in Saskatchewan. I’m sure the projects and research that emerge through CREATE Justice will be another testament to the good work that is happening.

I want to take a moment to speak to all of the hard work that has gone into the first year of CREATE Justice. Starting a new entity, building agreement on its focus and activities and establishing its reputation takes hours of often thankless work. Much of that work is done by people with full schedules and demanding responsibilities to their employers, their clients and their families. I thank all of these people who have volunteered their time and expertise to this first year of CREATE Justice. Having a staff person on the project is a great start to long-term sustainability. However, I have no doubt that Brea Lowenberger has put in more hours and done tasks that no one anticipated when she took the position. Strong leadership is key to getting new initiatives off the ground. I commend everyone who has devoted themselves to establishing CREATE Justice and congratulate you on a successful first year and a promising future.


A Spotlight on Expanding Engagement Lecture: The Promise of Justice and Health Partnerships

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By Erin Wolfson, Community Engagement Specialist, Division of Social Accountability, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan  

The College of Medicine was delighted to be a part of the Second Annual Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week! On October 18th, 2017 at noon in the College of Law, we had the pleasure of co-coordinating the lecture, Expanding Engagement: Creating Connections Between Delivery of Justice and Health Service, delivered by Michelle Leering, Executive Director of the Community Advocacy and Legal Centre in Belleville, Ontario. Michelle spoke about the promise of justice and health partnerships, and the vital role justice and health partnerships have to play in increasing access to justice in Saskatchewan. As Michelle described, justice and health partnerships have emerged as a holistic and proactive approach to address intersecting health and justice issues, the social determinants of health and health disparities in communities. While such partnerships are commonly seen in the United States and Australia, justice and health partnerships are only just beginning to appear in Canada, with one excellent example being the Rural Justice and Health Partnerships Project founded by Michelle in Ontario.

The lecture helped to continue the dialogue that began at the College of Law’s Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution in March of this year. On March 1st, 2017, the College of Law hosted their Fifth Annual Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution. Again, the College of Medicine participated as one of the topics centered on expanding engagement between justice and health services here in Saskatchewan. Three common themes arose during the meeting: (i) the focus of all collaborations should be benefits to patients or clients; (ii) more research must be done regarding all connections between health and justice and the types of collaborations best able to serve patients and clients; and (iii) the interdisciplinary education of students and active professionals should be prioritized. The group also identified key goals/principles and options for steps moving forward, which can be viewed here.

We hope to continue the collaboration between the College of Medicine and the College of Law with events in the future and would like to extend a special thanks to the 60 + people in attendance from both justice and health sectors – faculty, practitioners, students and administrators. We look forward to what we might see in terms of future interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaborations here in Saskatchewan. We hope this is just the beginning and look forward to many more conversations to come.

This lecture was made possible by the Office of the Vice-President Research Visiting Lecture Fund at the University of Saskatchewan, with support from CREATE Justice, and the Division of Social Accountability, College of Medicine.

Photo credit: Pro Bono Students Canada – Saskatchewan

Highlight from Day 2 of Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week: A Spotlight on Access to Justice Champions

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By Alex Santos, Pro Bono Students Canada Program Coordinator, Third Year Student, College of Law

The team at Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) had a great time hosting A Spotlight on Access to Justice Champions: A Volunteer Appreciation Event as part of A2J Week on Tuesday. This event provided an opportunity to reconnect and hear about the work PBSC volunteers are doing in community. Thank you to everyone who made it out! PBSC wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of our volunteers, and we’re excited to see how their work continues to help facilitate access to legal services in Saskatchewan.

We would also like to thank our generous sponsor, WestlawNext Canada, for their support.

During Access to Justice Week, CLASSIC invites consideration of what “Access to Justice” means and could or should mean

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By Chantelle Johnson, Executive Director, CLASSIC

“Access to Justice” as a term has gained in popularity over the past few years. Actual implementation, or doing anything beyond terminology is far more difficult than talking about “Access to Justice”. For those of us who work in the “justice” field, it is not unlikely that we hear this term on a weekly, if not daily basis.   CLASSIC’s mission statement speaks to social justice rather than access to justice. We updated it to reference social justice because our goal is a just society, rather than mere access to legal systems.  This distinction is very important particularly as the term “Access to Justice” has become so trendy.  “Access to Justice” means different things to different people and CLASSIC does not want to risk others attributing their subjective thoughts about this topic to CLASSIC or the people we work with.

The vision that guides CLASSIC is “CLASSIC works toward a just society that is supported by a fair legal system”.  A just society is not one where folks merely have lawyers or legal help with their matters – though this would be a major accomplishment. Rather, a just society is one that is equitable and where all members of our community enjoy equally the protections and benefits created through the legal system and beyond.  CLASSIC challenges everyone reading this to consider what “Access to Justice” means to you, and what it could or should mean.  The people CLASSIC works with do not consider justice to have been served when a new form makes their participation easier in court, at a point in a legal process, or otherwise (though this is important too!). Rather all people want to be treated as human beings who deserve dignity and respect.


October 16-21 Proclaimed Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week

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By Brea Lowenberger
Access To Justice Coordinator & Director of CREATE Justice, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law

Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan has proclaimed October 16-21, 2017 as Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week.

There are a range of opportunities for the public, lawyers and law faculty, members from other disciplines, and law students to participate during the week.

Attend the events and join the conversation on social media: #SKA2J2017.

Announcing SK A2J Week Events for Members from Other Disciplines – Public Library and Health Sectors

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By Brea Lowenberger
Access To Justice Coordinator & Director of CREATE Justice, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law

Solving complex issues like access to justice require interdisciplinary approaches. One of the goals of Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week is to engage new and diverse voices in the access to justice conversation. This year, members from the public library and healthcare sectors are invited to consider their unique role in promoting access to justice. Public library staff and healthcare providers, faculty, and students are invited to join the conversation through the following events.

WED. OCT. 18

Lecture on Expanding Engagement: Creating Connections Between Delivery of Justice and Health Services with Michele Leering – Registration required (1 CPD hour for lawyers)

(Download poster)


Free Legal Resource FairMcKercher Lecture Series Presents “How can your library help you access legal information?” with Janet Freeman (1 CPD hour for lawyers)

(Download poster)

SALI Conference Keynote Public Lecture on,Legal Information, Legal Advice, and Access to Justice – The Distinction as it is Understood in the United States” with John Greacen (1 CPD hour for lawyers)

(Download poster)

FRI. OCT. 20 & SAT. OCT. 21

Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information (SALI) Conference: “The Role of Legal Information Providers and Public Libraries in Promoting Access to Justice” – Registration required for online livestream option


Join the conversation!

Visit law.usask.ca/SKA2J17.php for more information and registration details for select events.

We want to hear from you!  Share your access to justice ideas, work, announcements, photos, reports on social media using the hashtag #SKA2J2017.