Bringing together 21 organizations devoted to improving access to justice, the Réseau en éducation juridique (Quebec legal education network) celebrated its fourth anniversary in December. The network aims to address gaps in the public’s understanding of the law.
Working more efficiently together
This objective is not new and was already part of the mission of many organizations. The network was created for organizations to work more efficiently together, according to Isabelle Bourgeois, Éducaloi’s Pedagogy and Innovation Advisor, who was interviewed recently on Éducaloi’s radio show Angle Droit broadcast on CIBL 101.5.
The problems which led to the creation of the network included:
- difficulties for members of the public to find legal information
- duplication of work between organizations
- challenges faced by organizations in distributing their resources and tools
Four years later, the network has grown to 21 members. Most are located in Quebec, but some are from francophone communities in the rest of Canada.
A more egalitarian society
Even if progress has been made in recent decades, legal education is still of key importance in creating a more egalitarian society, according to Julie Dumontier, Education and Cooperation Officer with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (human rights and youth rights commission).
“As long as there are people who don’t understand the law in Quebec, we have a problem,” she noted. “Even today, there are people who are unaware of the resources that are available, the institutions that protect them, and the means for defending their rights.”
Promoting awareness of resources
According to Ms. Dumontier, the Quebec legal education network will enable organizations to learn about the tools and resources other organizations have made available to the public. “It will make it possible compare what we (at the commission) have done with what organizations have made available, thus promoting complementarity, rather than competition,” she explained.
This comparison can inspire organizations to improve their practices. Training sessions offered by network members to other groups in the network will also help to enhance the work being done.
Four years after the network’s creation, are some target audiences still challenging to reach? Without hesitation, Éducaloi’s Isabelle Bourgeois said yes: the schools.
“Legal education should start at a very young age, even in elementary school,” she explained. “We know that schools are busy places. It’s hard for us to get our foot in the door and convince a guidance counselor to join our network.”
According to Ms. Bourgeois, it would be very beneficial for the members of the network to have a guidance counsellor on board.