TORONTO, June 22, 2017 /CNW/ - Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is providing $100,000 of funding to a project headed by an Ottawa-based organization to provide services to Black students facing suspension or expulsion hearings.
The Somali Centre for Family Services of Ottawa has been given a one-time grant worth $100,000 to provide legal representation, advocacy or legal education to Black students who are in conflict with the education system. The funding for this grant is from an investment begun by the Province of Ontario in 2015 that was earmarked to create new legal aid services.
In consultations held as part of LAO's Racialized Communities Strategy, community partners reported that Black children are among those that are disproportionately punished, suspended and expelled. LAO is offering these grants to help students and their families because expulsion can often lead to the heightened involvement of youths in the criminal justice system.
"Legal Aid Ontario's ongoing discussions with racialized communities highlight the needs of Black children in the education system. We hope these grants will help reduce the high proportion of Black youth being expelled or suspended from school."
-David Field, President and CEO, Legal Aid Ontario
"This is a vital opportunity for families of children facing a suspension, who must often advocate for themselves or retain a legal professional at high cost. The grants being offered here will assist those young people in the Black community who are facing suspensions or expulsions to get back to school."
-Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario
"These grants will provide important support to help young people in the Black community to stay in school. Everybody deserves a chance to get an education, and I am pleased that Legal Aid Ontario is extending this generous support to the Somali Centre for Family Services of Ottawa to ensure young people are given every opportunity to succeed."
- Mitzie Hunter, Ontario Minister of Education
"This investment will allow the Somali Centre for Family Services to continue the important work of advocating for those youth who are vulnerable in our society and are facing suspensions and expulsions"
- John Fraser, MPP Ottawa South
SOURCE Legal Aid Ontario
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