You may have already read the inspiring story of Rohan George traveling to Poland to offer support to the Ukrainian refugees gathered there on Krakow's Market Square. Here is part II of his story where he reflects on Public Legal Education, how it can help everyone, and what an international version of it may look like.
And if you missed part I of Rohan's story, make sure to check it out here!
What would International Public Legal Education look like?
The Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) is an organization devoted to providing public legal education to youth in Ontario. As a law student I had the privilege to volunteer with OJEN for a project in Thunder Bay and it was an eye-opening experience. These people were convinced our legal systems were only as strong as the number of those that had some understanding of it.
Public Legal Education (PLE) is the provision of legal information in a manner that’s easily accessible to the public. OJEN was going into schools and community spaces to help make the law more accessible.
When I decided to visit Poland, my mind returned to the value of PLE and wondered what International Public Legal Education would look like. That’s when I called David Cantor from Relocate to pitch the idea of a pop-up shop for immigration info. It was a hurried call—half crazy idea-half rant—but David didn’t miss a beat. He asked the team to provide me with whatever help I needed, and we were on our way to the first Migration Pop-Up taking place in Main Market Square, Krakow, Poland.
GlassBox Law put together a factsheet on Canada’s CUAET program in short order, we ordered some helium balloons to catch people’s attention, and with the generosity of a local merchant I was able to get setup in Main Market Square on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May.
I talked to passersby about what the CUAET program meant for Ukrainian nationals. I shared the factsheet summarizing the program and QR codes for Canada’s Job Bank for Ukrainians. I answered questions. There was a small group of Ukrainians who had been gathering in the square daily since the beginning of the war. They held vigils every day at noon and every evening at 9pm in Main Market Square. I left the information with them, when I left, and asked them to share it broadly. They promised to do so and translate it for wider access.
What does Public Legal Education look like?
It looks like OJEN helping high school students to understand their Charter rights—by putting it in a language they understand. It looks like training teachers to better understand the law so that they can better facilitate learning for their students. It looks driven by an understanding that our legal systems are only as strong as the number of people that can readily access them.
I think International Public Legal Education may look like much of the same: access-focused and mission driven. The best part about accessibility is it doesn't take much to start. A chair, table, and square go a long way.
Do you want to learn more about support programs for Ukrainian refugees?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). We've also provided an article with more information for those seeking asylum in the EU.
Glassbox is a Toronto based boutique law firm focused on employing technology and innovation to change the way clients experience law. The practice areas include immigration, real estate, family law and corporate (small business).
Connect with Rohan today to further discuss your immigration options to Canada and general questions about life as an immigrant in Canada.