Thunder Bay – The Thunder Bay Multicultural Association and Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law are partnering to offer new legal clinic services for immigration and refugee law in Northwestern Ontario, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Access to Justice Fund.
Located at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, the clinic will open in September 2021, offering free immigration and refugee law services to eligible immigrants, temporary residents, refugees, and people without status living in Northwestern Ontario.
It will be staffed by law students who will serve clients under the supervision of a local immigration and refugee lawyer and lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Jennifer Dagsvik.
“The immigrant and refugee population in Northwestern Ontario is growing and communities throughout the region have been working to attract more newcomers,” Dagsvik said.
“Until now, though – and unlike in larger centres – free clinical services dedicated to immigration and refugee law have not been available. The Newcomer Legal Clinic plans to fill that access-to-justice gap,” she added.
In addition to providing legal services, the clinic will offer public legal education in immigration and refugee law issues, and train Northwestern Ontario’s future lawyers to serve the legal needs of the newcomer population.
Staff will also develop a program to provide free business law services to resettled refugees who are looking to start a new business.
“The Newcomer Legal Clinic’s services will empower migrants and refugees to better navigate Canada’s immigration system,” said Jula Hughes, Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.
“It will also contribute to fostering safe and welcoming communities for newcomers throughout Northwestern Ontario.”
Cathy Woodbeck, Executive Director of the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association, said she is pleased to partner with the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law on this much-needed initiative for the region. “Giving local law students practical experience in immigration and refugee law is an added bonus to helping newcomer immigrants and refugees with legal assistance,” she said.