Supporting legal services for Black and racialized communities in Nova Scotia 

A view of downtown Halifax from the water. Photo: HR Law Canada/Canva
By Department of Justice Canada

Access to justice is a fundamental Canadian value and an integral part of a fair and just society based on the rule of law. The Government of Canada is committed to providing fair and equal access to justice for Black and racialized communities across the country and addressing systemic racism and discrimination in all its forms and in all phases of the justice system.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Vanessa Fells of the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition (ANSDPAD), Darrell Samson, Member of Parliament for Sackville–Preston–Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia, and Robert Wright, Executive Director of the African Nova Scotian Justice Institute (ANSJI), announced financial support for legal information and resources to empower local Black communities in Nova Scotia through programs rooted in social and economic justice. 

With this investment, ANSDPAD will hire a full-time lawyer, legal assistant and legal support and research person to provide free independent legal information and advice to clients of the ANSJI. These legal professionals will assist Black persons when navigating informal and formal legal processes in Nova Scotia. The focus is on human rights, employment discrimination, policing issues and access to justice. They will also oversee initiatives related to public legal education and support.

Justice Canada is providing $607,200 over three years through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program for this initiative.

Quotes

“We are pleased to see the Government of Canada continue to fulfill its commitment to providing fair and equal access to justice for African Nova Scotians, Black, and racialized communities across the country. Systemic racism and discrimination are very much prevalent within our justice system. Through this fund, the African Nova Scotian Justice Institute (ANSJI) will be able to dedicate additional resources to tackling these injustices and inequities. Our African Nova Scotian Justice Advocates will increase access to justice for African Nova Scotians, Black, and racialized communities and will assist people in navigating informal and formal legal processes in Nova Scotia, with a focus on human rights, employment discrimination, and policing issues.”

Robert Wright,
Executive Director, African Nova Scotian Justice Institute

“We are committed to fighting systemic anti-Black racism and discrimination, which continue to be painful realities for Black communities across the country. Central to this is developing Canada’s Black Justice Strategy in consultation and cooperation with Black communities, provinces and territories. By providing support to the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, we are helping bring systemic change and improving access to justice and fairness in our justice system.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., K.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Collaboration and partnership with Black-led organizations on matters impacting Black communities is critical to bringing fairness to our justice system. The African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition’s ongoing efforts to support the needs of Black communities in Nova Scotia is an important part of a national effort to combat systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism, and to address the overrepresentation of Black people in the justice system. “

Darrell Samson
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense, and Member of Parliament of Sackville–Preston–Chezzetcoo, Nova Scotia

Quick Facts

  • According to the 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety, nearly half (46%) of Black persons aged 15 years and older reported experiencing at least one form of discrimination in the past 5 years.
  • Of all Black persons, 4 in 10 (41%) experienced discrimination based on their race or skin colour. This percentage is approximately 15 times higher than the proportion among the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population (3%).
  • Budget 2021 announced $21.5 million over five years to support the provision of culturally appropriate legal information and resources and to pilot legal advice services for racialized communities across Canada. This funding supports organizations that provide free public legal education and information as well as organizations that provide legal services and advice to racialized communities. Funding provided to ANSDPAD is part of this investment.
  • The December 2021 Mandate Letter for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Honourable David Lametti, includes a commitment to developing Canada’s Black Justice Strategy (the Strategy) with the support of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and in consultation and cooperation with provinces, territories and Black communities. On February 15, 2023, the Government of Canada announced the establishment of the Strategy’s Steering Group—an important step towards its development. The Strategy will help address systemic anti-Black racism, discrimination and the overrepresentation of members of Black communities in the criminal justice system.

Associated links

Author