Statement by Nova Scotia Legal Aid on Black Lives Matter Movement
Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) acknowledges the triggering of pain, anger, frustration and trauma for African Nova Scotian communities and people of African descent worldwide from the recent traumatic deaths in the Unites States of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and, in Canada, Regis Korchinski-Paquet. NSLA further acknowledges that this is tied to a legacy of enslavement and segregation dating back hundreds of years.
Issues of systemic racism and injustice are Canadian and Nova Scotian issues as well, as evidenced recently by the Wortley and MacDonald reports, and the continued over-incarceration of people of African descent and over-representation in child protection systems. NSLA recognizes that these are issues of fundamental human rights, not just issues of racialized people.
Nova Scotia Legal Aid has committed to fighting systemic racism through our Mandate and Strategic Plan. Our Strategic Plan includes the following:
Our commitment to enhancing access to justice with a focus on economically vulnerable and historically disadvantaged Nova Scotians continues. In meeting that commitment, we recognize the over-representation of Indigenous and African Nova Scotians in criminal and child protection systems and are, therefore, committed to:
- Responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action as Nova Scotia Legal Aid has a key role to play as the front line in our family and criminal justice systems.
- Providing culturally responsive service to Indigenous and African Nova Scotian clients through the education of our staff and by bringing cultural impact to the forefront on matters before the courts.
As an organization, we know making that statement is not enough and that we must act on it. We have a lot to still learn; we can and must do better.
Nova Scotia Legal Aid offers support in many different ways, including through our African Nova Scotian Social Worker and ongoing cultural proficiency education to improve service offered and awareness of issues by our staff. In addition to family law, social justice and criminal law advice and representation, NSLA provides representation to African Nova Scotians who lack clear title to their historic land as part of the Land Titles Initiative. NSLA’s Equity & Racial Diversity Committee works to support staff, advise the Executive, and ensure culturally safe and relevant service is offered to our clients. If you think we may be able to help you access better justice, please reach out.
NSLA calls on our justice system partners to join us in identifying and speaking out against all forms of racism and bias; to educate themselves and their organizations on the ways racism and bias manifest and the impact of historic and present racism on individuals and communities; and to support and join African Nova Scotians and the Black Lives Matter movement in denouncing and eliminating racism and inequality.
PDF Version: NSLA Statement on Black Lives Matter Movement