Legal Education Needs Survey

The purpose of this research project was to determine the current legal education needs of Aboriginal people in Alberta through province-wide interviews with frontline justice workers. Along with an extensive review of available literature on the subject, 38 interviews were conducted with Aboriginal court workers, crown prosecutors, judges, city police and RCMP officers throughout Alberta. The findings of this project have added to the sparse yet growing body of research on public legal education in Canada, with a special focus on the Alberta Aboriginal population. With regard to criminal justice, it transpired that the most salient legal education needs and barriers were apprehension of the system, apathy towards the justice system, issues surrounding comprehension of legal terminology, lack of knowledge about important specific aspects of the justice system, and the availability of legal resources in communities.

The barriers and needs surrounding family law were found to be a lack of understanding about the complexities of the system and a lack of resources to enable families to effectively navigate this system. More specifically, the existing literature and the findings of this research project highlight the growing demand for public legal education and the need for a comprehensive model for Aboriginal legal education.

Most notable is the need for a model of delivery that takes into account the differing experiences of rural and urban Aboriginal peoples, as well as the barriers they face in accessing fair justice. Meeting the legal education needs of Aboriginal people will assist them in gaining a more complete awareness of their rights and obligations. In achieving this end, legal education will enable them to effectively participate in the legal system and judicial processes.

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