The Multilingual Legal Web Site
Recent data indicates that the population of British Columbia is becoming increasingly diverse. The latest Canadian census revealed that one in every four residents of this province identified their mother tongue as “other than English”1. Almost 51% (267,545 individuals) of the residents of Vancouver identified a language other than English as their mother tongue. The most common non-official languages spoken at home include: Chinese (26.6 % of total) Punjabi (2.7%) Vietnamese (2.2%) French (1.7%) and Spanish (1.5%)2.
The Canadian legal system has been characterized as complex3, which in practice means that citizens need to become aware of a variety of legal topics including their rights and responsibilities and also understand how different administrative systems work. Newcomers who face cultural and linguistic barriers are a particularly disadvantaged group when trying to find legal information in their first languages. In our province, several legal education and settlement agencies have been actively involved in addressing their particular legal information needs. Several studies4 and many community workers have also identified the need for alternative ways to increase newcomers’ access to timely legal information and resources.
The Latin American Community Council and MOSAIC have implemented in partnership this online multilingual legal resource designed to provide newcomers to Canada and community workers comprehensive and critical legal information in languages other than English, including Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Chinese, Punjabi, Persian, Korean, and Arabic. This project intends to contribute to the legal education efforts undertaken by several community agencies by accomplishing the following objectives:
- To promote legal education through increasing public awareness of the law and justice system in B.C.
- To help improve the accessibility and utility of legal and law-related materials to both the legal profession and the public throughout B. C.
- To allow community workers and settlement practitioners in B.C. to provide essential basic legal information to new Canadians with limited knowledge of English
- To ensure relevance of the legal information and educational materials through periodic consultation with community groups and the Advisory Committee
- To enhance existing distribution methods for community groups that have produced legal education and information materials in languages other than English
This web site includes publications covering subjects, which have been selected through community consultations during both its planning and implementation stages, in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Is our intention to continue to include more publications in these languages as soon as they become available and we strongly encourage community groups and agencies interested in sharing their translated documents to contact us.