Seema’s Story

 

One challenge with legal aid for new immigrants is the language barrier. They may not be able to fully articulate their situation in English. This may also pose a barrier for them to understand Canadian laws. Often web-based materials do not take the literacy factor into account. The current eligibility process also has violence as one of the considerations to qualify to receive legal aid. In many cultures, airing your dirty laundry is perceived as shameful. Acknowledging violence in the relationship can be perceived as embarrassing and often women are scared to disclose. Not all abused women call police and therefore there may be no charges laid, even where there is violence. To add to this complexity, if you add the dynamic of language barrier, this can screen out many eligible immigrants applying for legal aid.

 

Debbie’s Story

 

First and foremost I think legal aid should be provided where there is a threat to the safety and welfare of individuals – especially women and children who have suffered domestic violence – and where there are crimes against individuals victimized by others wielding power and control over them. Generally these individuals have no means to secure funds for private counsel and they have probably already exhausted the help given by family and friends. If we continue to destroy the family we will be facing more and more need for legal aid.

 

Andi’s Story

 

We currently have a severely disproportionate system of law: “justice” exists only for those who can afford to buy it. Without Legal Aid, we are guaranteed perpetuation of devastating social impacts related to broken families: depression, anxiety, trauma; addiction; poverty; abuse; violence; exploitation; crime; and cyclical recidivism within the corrections, health, social services, social assistance, and child welfare systems. An effective infrastructure that provides for human’s rights to dignity, safety and basic needs requires equal, ample government investment in Education, Social Services, Health Services, and Legal Aid. As within any holistic framework, when one component suffers, all suffer. Investing in Legal Aid is a critical start.