Kinna-Aweya Legal Clinic 40th Anniversary Celebration 1978 – 2018


Kinna-aweya-cake-40thThunder Bay, ON – Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic celebrated the 40th Anniversary Open House on 86 S. Cumberland Street with a traditional prayer, a smudge and a dedication Board room name in honour of Wanda White, a Board President from 1989 until her passing in August 2016 for Nipigon Area.

In 1978, the clinic opened its doors as ‘Thunder Bay District Native Legal Counselling Services”.  It is the first indigenous legal clinic in Ontario. Kinna-aweya is the Ojibwa word for ‘everyone’.

Kinna-aweya legal clinic was founded by indigenous people to provide legal advice and assistance for people with low income who, due to language or cultural barriers were not able to access traditional, existing legal services funded by Legal Aid Ontario.  The focus is on helping people obtain income maintenance benefits and maintain access to housing and tenants rights. The founding members first met in 1977 and held consultations throughout the District of Thunder Bay before opening its doors on July 31, 1978.

Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic provides legal advice and assistance with Income Maintenance benefits like Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, and Canada Child Benefits, preventing housing evictions, obtaining personal identification, Criminal Injuries Compensation claims, and income tax returns. These benefits and services are vital for people living in poverty to meet their basic needs. The clinic also provides Public Legal Education, Community development, and systemic advocacy on issues that impact people living in poverty.

Since its opening, Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic has assisted thousands of clients to preserve their housing, obtained millions of dollars in benefits for their clients, and connected countless individuals with the appropriate and necessary community and government services and resources.

Poverty in Thunder Bay
Poverty in Thunder Bay

In 2008, The Thunder Bay Economic Justice Committee, supported by Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic premieres, its Photovoice Project, an art project booklet depicting photographs that tell powerful stories.  In this project, seven individuals got together to discuss their experience and depict the realities of poverty in Thunder Bay.

Some of those pictures are framed and are hanging still in the Thunder Bay office.

Picture Wall at Kinna-awey Legal Clinic
Picture Wall at Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic

In addition to legal casework, Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers, New Directions Speakers School with new schools offered in Sudbury and Manitouin Island, Moosonee, Sault Saint Marie, Garden River and Atikokan, Community Volunteer income tax program, Awenen Niin ID services, and an Immigration/refugee casework.

Netnewsledger staff would like to extend our condolences to his wife Helen Brizard and family for the loss of a well-respected culturally proud elder, Louis Brizard. He served as President of the Board of Directors from August 2016 until his passing in July 2018. A special tribute for Louis is being planned and we will keep you updated.

Speakers spoke of the purpose of the legal clinic which provides legal advice and assistance, particularly indigenous people of Thunder Bay with poverty law issues and square dancing offered in the parking lot and a draw for a beautiful painting by Kevin Belmore,  along with the cake cutting and refreshments for all in attendance. It was perfect weather for this memorable event.

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