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Hot Off the Press: Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC

Aboriginal Legal Aid in BCWe are excited to announce the official launch of our new website Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC. This website expands upon and replaces the Aboriginal section of the LSS website. With a new, strongly visual design built around community feedback, the site is easy to use and makes information easy to find. The website is designed to fit all devices, so you can easily read and navigate it on your phone or tablet.
The site includes information in plain language on Aboriginal legal rights, including Gladue, First Nations Court, and harvesting rights. It also has information on family law, child protection, social assistance on reserve (with the latest rates), the Indian residential schools settlement, and wills and estates on reserve. 
In addition to an easy-to-read layout, content pages feature contextual information on publications and who can help. This means that relevant publications and who can help information are listed right next to the information to which they apply, giving users the information they need to help solve their problems without having to search for it. Complex legal terms are bolded in red; when you hover your mouse over the term, a plain language definition appears in a pop-up window.
Finally, the site also features a community events page, which provides information on conferences, speakers, training opportunities, and community engagement opportunities that are of interest to the Aboriginal community. Community members, advocates, and outreach staff are encouraged to send information on community events to aboriginal@lss.bc.ca.

A Guide to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement now available as an eBook

A Guide to the Indian Residential Schools SettlementOur online-only booklet A Guide to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement is now available as an eBook! You can download it to any eBook reader, including Kobo, Kindle, or even your smart phone or iPad or tablet. For advocates, LIOWs, and ACLWs, this means that you no longer need an Internet connection in order to access this publication, and you no longer need to remember to bring printouts to share this information with your clients. Cross-references are linked, making it easy to navigate and get right to the information your client needs. Still not sure about eBooks? Check out Lifehack’s Ten Advantages of E-book Readers.

A Guide to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement provides easy-to-understand information on the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The booklet explains to survivors what their options are under the agreement, including what their options are now that the deadlines to apply to the Common Experience Payment and Independent Assessment Process have passed. It also includes information on the Personal Credits that are available to survivors who received a Common Experience Payment. It has a comprehensive section on where to get legal help and emotional support.

Hot off the Press – Aboriginal Child Protection Wallet Card

Aboriginal Child Protection Wallet CardThe Aboriginal Child Protection Wallet Card has been reprinted and is now available for order. This wallet card lets Aboriginal parents know about their right to get legal advice if they’re being investigated for a child protection matter. It provides the Legal Aid phone number, and encourages parents to call as soon as possible to find out if they qualify for a free lawyer.

Atira releases an Aboriginal focussed book

Atira Women’s Resource Society has released a new publication, Your Rights on Reserve: A Legal Tool-Kit for Aboriginal Women in BC (PDF). The goal of Atira Women’s Resource Society is to end violence against women. They provide direct services to women in need and raise awareness on the issue.

Your Rights on Reserve is a legal toolkit for Aboriginal women, which explains their rights in plain language. This publication covers a range of topics, including:

  • taxation,
  • education,
  • family law,
  • relationship violence,
  • band membership, and more.

This publication is available online and in print.

Hot of the Press: Social Assistance on Reserve in BC

Social Assistance on ReserveWe have updated and reprinted our booklet Social Assistance on Reserve in BC. Reprinted for the first time since 2008, this booklet features a whole new look and revised, easy-to-read content.

This booklet explains in plain language:

  • who’s eligible for social assistance on reserve,
  • what benefits are available,
  • how to apply for benefits,
  • your rights and responsibilities while you’re on benefits, and
  • how to appeal a decision about your benefits.

The booklet also features a comprehensive “Who can help” section, with detailed information on where to find an advocate in communities throughout BC, where to get legal help and information, as well as other resources.

Personal Credits for Indian Residential Schools Survivors

Indian residential school survivors who got a Common Experience Payment are also eligible for Personal Credits. Personal Credits are available for educational purposes, and cover up to $3,000. Family members of eligible people can also use these credits.

To use your Personal Credits, you must submit your Personal Credits Acknowledgement Form. This form was sent in the mail to anyone who got a Common Experience Payment. The deadline to submit your Personal Credits Acknowledgement Form is October 31, 2014.

Once your Personal Credits Acknowledgement Form has been processed, you will get a Personal Credits Redemption Form. This form must be post marked no later than December 1, 2014.

To request a form, or for help with filling out your forms, call 1-866-343-1858. If you’re hard of hearing, call 1-877-627-7027 (TTY).

For more information, see the Indian Residential Schools Settlement — Official Court Website.

Update on Aboriginal People and the Law in BC

Aboriginal People and the Law in BC

Aboriginal-People-and-the-Law-in-BC-5-lssA number of changes to the law in recent years mean that print copies of our publication Aboriginal People and the Law in BC are out of date. Several of the chapters in the print copy are no longer accurate. The PDF available online has been updated to reflect these legal changes.

While there is no new printing of this publication on the horizon, you can update your print copies by removing the following chapters and replacing them with the alternate publications listed below:

Hot off the press: Revised Indian Residential Schools Settlement fact sheet

Indian Residential Schools Settlement

Indian Residential Schools SettlementWe’ve updated our Indian Residential Schools Settlement fact sheet. This fact sheet is for Indian residential schools survivors who want to know what their options are under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The fact sheet has information on:

  • who’s covered by the settlement agreement,
  • how they can take action against the Government of Canada for abuse they experienced at an eligible residential school, and
  • the Common Experience Payment and the Independent Assessment Process, including what to do now that the application deadlines have passed.

The fact sheet also lets survivors know:

  • who can help them with their settlement agreement claim,
  • where to get emotional and other support, and
  • how to get legal help.

Hot off the press: Are you Aboriginal?

Are You Aboriginal?

Are-You-Aboriginal-Gladue-First-Nations-Court-350-lssWe’ve updated our Are you Aboriginal? fact sheet. This fact sheet is for Aboriginal people who have been charged with a crime. It includes information on Gladue rights — special rights under the Criminal Code that encourage judges to take a restorative justice approach. This means that, when setting bail or sentencing, the judge must keep in mind the special circumstances that Aboriginal offenders face, and consider all options other than jail. Gladue rights apply to all Aboriginal people: status and non-status Indians, Inuit, Métis, and anyone who self-identifies as Aboriginal.

The fact sheet also includes information on the First Nations Courts in  Duncan, Kamloops, and New Westminster. It includes contact information for the First Nations Court duty counsel, and information on how to apply to have your matter transferred to First Nations Court.

Interested in Gladue report writer training?

Aboriginal logo

The Justice Institute of BC will once again provide Gladue report writer training starting January 7, 2014, and they’re looking for course participants!

Gladue rights apply to all Aboriginal people and are a way that judges can try to make sure that Aboriginal people are treated fairly. When applying Gladue rights during sentencing or when setting bail, a judge must consider:

  • all options other than jail, and
  • a community sentence that will help address the underlying issues that led to the legal trouble.

To do this, the judge needs a Gladue report. These reports outline the accused’s personal history, as well as what type of services are available to help that person address the issues that led them into legal trouble.

This course is designed to teach people who work within Aboriginal communities and the justice system to meet the requirements necessary to write Gladue reports for the court. People who successfully complete this course will have met one of the key requirements for being added to the LSS list of qualified Gladue report writers. For more information about these requirements, see the Gladue report disbursement pilot page on the LSS website.

To find out more about the course, see the course description or contact Tami Pierce.