Empowerment through Knowledge: Making the Law Accessible to Marginalized Non-English Speaking Communities

Project Name

Empowerment through Knowledge: Making the Law Accessible to Marginalized Non-English Speaking Communities

Project Partners

Lead Agency: KCWA Family and Social Services (KCWA)
Partner Agencies: Kababayan Multicultural Centre (KMC); Vietnamese Women’s Association of Toronto (VWAT)
Legal Partner: Korean Canadian Lawyer’s Association (KCLA)

Project Summary

This project will provide in-person training to at least 50 front-line workers (primarily settlement workers) and faith leaders in the Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese communities in the GTA. Project staff identified the core legal topics for training by conducting a needs assessment.

Legal Topics for Training

Two areas of law were identified as priorities based on a needs assessment conducted by KCWA, as well as anecdotal experience based on their frontline experience with family and settlement services:

  • housing law – lack of accurate information can place newcomers into vulnerable situations with regard to their housing.
  • immigration law – KCWA staff work closely with clients who have many questions about immigration law. Training in this area will raise the capacity of the staff to respond to questions and needs and ultimately provide more meaningful help and support by linking people up with legal services when needed.

Target Audience

The specific people who have consistently been identified as those to whom community members go to for help within the Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese communities are front-line community workers (for example, settlement, family, and child and youth workers) and faith leaders. The training will be targeted at these individuals. A separate workshop will be aimed at religious and community leaders in the Korean community.

Key Activities

The project will be conducted in 3 streams. KCLA members who are bilingual lawyers will be selected to provide training. During Stream 1, the two-hour training sessions will be divided between 60 minutes of presentation-style information sharing by the lawyer, 30 minutes of case study, and 30 minutes open discussion. Stream 1 will be in English.

Stream 2 will be provided in Korean only. Since it is more difficult to engage leaders due to competing schedules, Stream 2 will provide condensed versions of the two seminars followed by a panel Q&A session. Stream 3 materials will be provided the same day in Korean – English materials will be uploaded onto the websites of the partner agencies.

Need for Training

Through a community consultation process that was part of a legal needs assessment for the Korean community, the need for actual legal services and the need for education about the law were identified by the Korean community. The success of an annual legal clinic has been demonstrated by increasing attendance each year, as well as consistent feedback about the importance and value of the clinic. Participants have consistently said that they would like to see the clinic available on a regular basis throughout the year. The survey results also indicated a need for legal information resources to be made available throughout the community.

Innovative Approach

The project is innovative because it responds directly to community demand and uses a model of enhancing the knowledge of service providers and religious leaders that has never been used within the Korean community before. The project builds on existing strengths within the community by using our own internal infra-structure, and professional networks with the KCLA. Through this partnership, independent private practice lawyers will work collaboratively with a non-profit community agency.

This project is also innovative in that it brings together a number of under-served and under-resourced ethnic communities in a training project.