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NewLi: Legal Information for Saskatchewan’s Newcomers

February 17, 2019

By Alan Kilpatrick

The rate of newcomers and immigrants settling in Saskatchewan has skyrocketed in recent years.  The past decade saw more than 100,000 immigrants arrive in the province.  Over ten percent of Saskatchewan’s population, according to the 2016 census, are immigrants.

Newcomers face a variety of unique challenges accessing legal information, understanding their rights, and making sense of Canadian law.  According to this previous blog post on Legal Sourcery, Saskatchewan Chief Justice Richards identified these challenges and encouraged Saskatchewan’s Public Legal Education Association (PLEA) to create a legal information resource specifically for newcomers:

“Saskatchewan, like many other parts of the country, is enjoying a significant influx of new immigrants. Many of them come from countries or places where the law, police, lawyers, government and the courts function much differently than they do in Canada. We need to ensure that all of our citizens understand the basic roles of the legal profession, the police and the courts. As well, they need to understand that these institutions are beyond the reach of corruption and bribery and that they can be used with confidence to vindicate rights, and ensure fairness.”

PLEA, as you may know, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Saskatchewan citizens with high-quality plain language legal information, education, and publications on common legal topics.  PLEA launched its NewLi website in late 2016 as a “Saskatchewan newcomer’s guide to the law.”  It features accessible information about the law, government, and justice at newli.plea.org.

The Law Society Library team is excited to see more plain language legal information being made available in Saskatchewan as a result of PLEA’s outstanding efforts.  Most Saskatchewanians have a difficult time understanding formal legal language and legalese.  Access to understandable legal information is an access to justice issue.  For example, the British Columbia Provincial Court explains that “by using plain language we … contribute to improved understanding of court processes, legal issues, and decisions. We shorten court lists. And we give people effective, real access to justice.”

We encourage you to check out NewLi and call on Saskatchewan’s legal profession to step up, write plainly, and produce more plain language legal content.

Sources

British Columbia Provincial Court. (2017, July 18). Plain language – essential for real access to justice. Retrieved from http://provincialcourt.bc.ca/enews/enews-18-07-2017

Gagne, J. (2018, October 21).  Access to justice week highlight – A2J for Newcomers. Retrieved from https://lsslib.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/access-to-justice-week-highlight-a2j-for-newcomers/

Latimer, K. (2017, October 25). Share of new immigrants in Sask. climbs upward: StatsCan.
Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-recent-immigrants-numbers-climb-1.4371285

Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan. (n.d.) NewLi: about. Retrieved from
http://newli.plea.org/about

Shepherd, A. (2018, September 18). Saskatchewan marks 20 years of immigrant nominee program. Retrieved from https://www.cjme.com/2018/09/18/saskatchewan-marks-20-years-of-immigrant-nominee-program/

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