Special Granting Initiative News

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For Immediate Release:  The Manitoba Law Foundation is pleased to announce today that three organisations will benefit from a total of just over $600,000 in Special Granting Initiative funding to support their efforts to enhance access, and remove systemic barriers, to justice in Manitoba.

First Nations Family Advocate Office of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (FNFAO-AMC) & The Public Interest Law Centre (PILC)
Bringing Our Children Home through Advocacy and Research

FNFAO-AMC and PILC will collaborate on a unique and innovative project “Bringing Our Children Home through Advocacy and Research” to address Manitoba’s high rate of First Nation children in care. Over the course of two years, the funding will be used to hire a full time FNFAO-AMC staff lawyer and law student to assist First Nation families in meeting their legal needs in relation to interactions with the child welfare system. Additionally, the funding will support legal research by PILC which will address child welfare law reform in a manner that works towards reconciliation and nation-to-nation relationships by supporting First Nation laws, institutions, solutions and ways of being and knowing.

The FNFAO-AMC is pleased to be a recipient of funding made available through the Manitoba Law Foundation. In a time of reconciliation, we are able to help address some of the challenges and barriers of our families when trying to seek adequate legal supports to overcome involvement in various institutions. Through our office, we will have in-house lawyers that will assist families in navigating the legal system and help challenge some of the injustices our families encounter. This project is in collaboration with the Public Interest Law Centre and we are excited to spearhead an innovative and collaborative approach that will improve and enhance access to justice for First Nations families.

– Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

Our First Nations are disproportionately misrepresented in the justice system and within the Child and Family Services system. Our people deserve to have legal support and quality representation as they navigate through these colonial institutions. With the support of the Manitoba Law Foundation, we are able to fill a gap and ensure that our families are properly represented. This will be a First Nations approach, guided by our families, to help improve access to justice, promote community wellness and family reunification.

-AMC Women’s Council

The Public Interest Law Centre is honoured to have the opportunity to continue working with and learning from FNFAO-AMC about the insights of First Nations laws in addressing contemporary issues today.

-Byron William, Director, PILC

In collaboration with FNFAO-AMC, we hope to offer an alternative for moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation to address a crisis facing Manitobans – the over-representation of First Nations children in the child welfare system.

– Joëlle Pastora Sala, Legal Counsel, PILC.

The Law Society of Manitoba (LSM)
Access to Justice Coordinator

LSM will hire a full-time Access to Justice Coordinator dedicated to promoting and supporting the work of Manitoba organizations seeking to improve access to justice.  The Coordinator will also develop and implement innovative ideas, facilitate collaboration amongst stakeholders, lead access to justice data collection efforts in the Province and represent Manitoba in the work of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters.  

The Law Society of Manitoba is delighted to have this opportunity to establish the role of an Access to Justice Coordinator and be a leader in promoting access to justice for all Manitobans. We look forward to working with our colleagues at the Faculty of Law and with other stakeholders in the justice system to facilitate and encourage the delivery of affordable legal services to the public.

-Lynda Troup, President of the Law Society of Manitoba

West Broadway Community Organization (WBCO)
West Broadway Tenancy Improvement Project

WBCO will build on its existing Tenancy Improvement Project which provides systems navigation, education on the rights afforded to tenants through the Residential Tenancy Act, and coordination between tenants, landlords, the Residential Tenancy Board and Legal Aid tenant advocates. This successful program serves a particularly vulnerable community (with high local rates of eviction and housing mobility) for whom homelessness is a very real risk, a situation which is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you to The Manitoba Law Foundation for their support of this project, which will help tenants to mediate conflicts with their landlords and to access their rights during this exceptionally challenging time.

-Ella Rockar, WBCO Housing Coordinator

About the Special Granting Initiative
The Special Granting Initiative was introduced in the fall of 2019 when the board determined the Foundation was in a position to significantly increase its discretionary granting for 2019/2020 after a number of years of solid revenue and a replenished reserve.

Applications were invited from individuals, institutions, organizations or associations in Manitoba whose proposed application fell within one or more of the Foundation’s five statutory objects, with particular interest in proposals that also addressed the Foundation’s strategic granting priorities being:

  • Legal services for rural and remote areas of Manitoba
  • Legal services that specifically support Indigenous issues and communities
  • Supporting delivery of legal support services by intermediaries and advocates
  • French language legal services and supports

Twenty-two applications were received and adjudication was set for the end of March 2021 with a budget of $1.5 million but had to be postponed to ascertain the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Foundation. In June 2020, a shortlist of applicants was developed.

The board was extremely pleased to be able to proceed with adjudication. The initial budget of $1.5 million unfortunately had to be reduced to ensure the Foundation has resources to further its mission and vision in future years. However, the board feels these three projects will have a significant impact in addressing the access to justice challenges and disadvantages faced by vulnerable populations in Manitoba, particularly at a time when COVID-19 has amplified those challenges and disadvantages.

-Garth Smorang, Chair of the Manitoba Law Foundation

The Foundation will continue its review of shortlisted applicants at its December 2020 meeting.

The Manitoba Law Foundation
Established by statute in 1987, The Manitoba Law Foundation funds programs that benefit Manitobans in the following areas: legal education, legal research, legal aid services, law reform, and the development and maintenance of law libraries. Our main source of revenue is the interest earned on funds held in Manitoba lawyers’ pooled trust accounts in financial institutions across the province. Through its grants, the Foundation seeks to fulfill its mission of advancing legal knowledge, fostering excellence within the legal profession, and facilitating community understanding of the justice system.

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