Halifax Pride Parade

Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyers, staff and families took part in the Halifax Pride Parade held on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016. We marched as part of the joint CBA NS and Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society float as well as with other organizations we work with in the community. Shown are photos of the team before the march and Tammy Wohler from the Dartmouth Family Office in action.

Pride Parade 2016

Halifax Transit Low Income Pass Pilot Program

The application deadline for the Low Income Transit Pass Pilot Program has been extended to July 22, 2016. For details and a copy of the Application Form, please visit:  http://www.halifax.ca/transit/LowIncomePass.php

Halifax Pridewalk

Morgan Manzer, freshly invigorated from his attendance at Toronto Pride on the July 1st weekend, amped up his work with Halifax Pride in preparation for the Festival from July 14-24, 2016.

A Staff Lawyer with Nova Scotia Legal Aid and Board member with Halifax Pride, Morgan is seen here with Mayor Mike Savage and Councillor Jennifer Watts, introducing the city to the first Pride crosswalk or “Pridewalk” as coined by Mayor Savage. This year’s Festival theme, “This Is Why”, strives to answer the question of why Pride is still tremendously important.

LGBTQ+ people continue to experience disadvantages and discrimination in employment. All LGBTQ+ persons should be afforded the same opportunity as me – to be able to bring their full selves to work and achieve their full professional potential. This is why Pride matters to me.” – Morgan Manzer

 

Support Staff Community Outreach

Nova Scotia Legal Aid is reaching out into communities with client-centered initiatives to improve access to justice for more Nova Scotians. This outreach includes support staff taking a leading role in proactive early intervention initiatives with a goal to connecting better with our communities and putting into motion the old adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

To learn more about NSLA’s holistic approach, please see the report ‘We Are Here to Help’; the changing culture of legal aid in Nova Scotia prepared by Dr. Ab Currie, Ph.D, Senior Research Fellow, Canadian Forum on Civil Justice:  Report – We Are Here to Help (Currie)

NSLA Aboriginal Justice Strategy

In celebration and recognition of National Aboriginal Day, Nova Scotia Legal Aid pleased to share our Aboriginal Justice Strategy:

AJ Strategy NSLA 2016-17

HIV is Not a Crime National Training Academy

From May 17 to 20, 2016 Megan Longley, Service Delivery Director, attended the ‘HIV is Not a Crime National Training Academy’ in Huntsville, Alabama (www.hivisnotacrime.com ). Megan was asked by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (who arranged funding for the trip) to be part of the Canadian delegation made up of lawyers, academics and advocates from across the country who are pictured here.  

Megan became involved in the movement to end criminalisation of HIV in 2013 when she successfully defended two cases dealing with HIV disclosure. The cases addressed the issue of whether an HIV+ person is guilty of aggravated sex assault if they have not disclosed their HIV status, even in instances where there was no realistic chance of transmission. One of those cases was reported across Canada and internationally as offering hope and a new approach to defending these cases (http://canlii.ca/t/g1vj3 ).  Megan continues to work on this important justice issue provincially and through the Canadian Legal Network.

 

Irving and Ruth Pink Award for Youth Development and Social Justice

Nova Scotia Legal Aid believes in “connecting better” with communities we are here to serve. Legal Aid is not the only organization which understands the importance of seeking to understand. With this in mind, I wanted to take the time to share an article which highlights the work of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (to which all lawyers belong) and, in particular, the work of Emma Halpern in promoting the importance of connecting with communities we serve: NSBS Spring 2016 Halpern Community Engagement

In Emma’s words this is all “about engaging directly with the diverse communities of this Province who frequently do not have a voice in our justice system. We are trying to…build relationships and truly hear people’s stories and experience”.

The photo shown is from the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service Social Justice Soiree where Emma gave her keynote.

Legal Aid Ontario is also committed to meeting with economically vulnerable and racialized communities to learn about the most pressing needs. In the words of their press release:

LAO will consult with clients, the private bar, community legal clinics and community service providers to identify barriers faced by racialized communities in accessing justice and develop strategies to address those barriers. LAO will also identify gaps and enhance services, programs and resources to offer increased access to justice”.

The Honourable Lorne Clarke

The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission recognizes the contribution of The Honourable Lorne Clarke, Retired Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, to what we now call “Access to Justice.” The Honourable Lorne Clarke passed away this past weekend. His obituary is here: http://thechronicleherald.ca/obituaries/1366599-clarke-the-hon.-lorne

It is worth highlighting that The Honourable Lorne Clarke took an ongoing interest in Legal Aid. Our first Executive Director, Gord Murray, QC, served with The Honourable Lorne Clarke on the Law Reform Advisory Commission. He remembers him as a “scholar and a progressive thinker and more than that he was a gentleman. He was a friend to legal aid.”

I met The Honourable Lorne Clarke early on in my tenure as Executive Director. He had a knack for making people feel special.  I began sending him our Annual Reports. He would take the time to call and chat or send a note after reading these. He took an interest in all that Legal Aid was doing. I would like to share with you a comment The Honourable Lorne Clarke made in a letter to me a few years ago: “It took much effort and foresight to bring the Legal Aid Commission into existence and practice but once here it has become an integral part of our life and the quality of our living.

Karen Hudson, QC
Executive Director
NS Legal Aid Commission

CBA Criminal Law Conference

3 Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyers presented at the CBA (Canadian Bar Association) NS Criminal Law Conference on May 13, 2016. The Conference was attended by more than 100 lawyers and judges.

Pictured are: Karen Endres, Managing Lawyer of the Dartmouth Criminal Law Office; Megan Longley, Service Delivery Director for NS Legal Aid; and Roger Burrill, Senior Staff Counsel, Criminal Appeals and Special Cases.

Mental Health Team & Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

The members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met with the Nova Scotia Mental Health Team on Friday May 6, 2016.  The Senate Committee is tasked with ‘examining and reporting’ on matters of delay in the criminal justice system (CJS), but they are also interested more widely in new and innovative options for the CJS.  Nova Scotia is world renowned for its Restorative Justice Initiatives, not only in the CJS but in other areas – schools, Dal Dentistry, etc. and so the Senate chose this venue, their first outside of Ottawa to convene hearings.

They were interested in the Nova Scotia Mental Health Court Program so the Team, including our own, Kelly Rowlett, gave them a presentation and answered their questions.

The Team was well received and hope that their meeting will assist the Committee in their task.