Free family law workshops aim to better inform newcomers

Community Legal Information is hosting workshops on family law for newcomers to P.E.I.

Topics included marriage, divorce, child support and division of property

More than 200 students from the language instruction for newcomers to Canada class at Holland College attended three workshops on family law hosted by Community Legal Information. (Community Legal Information)

Community Legal Information is hosting workshops on family law for newcomers to P.E.I.

The workshops cover marriage, divorce, the difference between common law and married couples, child support and division of property.

"Every country has their own set of laws and especially with regards to family law," said Ellen Mullally, executive director of the organization.

"There's lots of differences in terms of family law from other countries and so you know if people are familiar with the law of their home country there's a lot of learning to do once you arrive in Canada." 

The project was made possible with a grant of $11,950 from the Interministerial Women's Secretariat of P.E.I.

Language barrier

Last year, the organization applied for and received funding to develop a family law publication in seven different languages. 

The booklets provide basic legal information in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin and Vietnamese.

It's the language barrier but it's also just the culture of justice from their home country.— Ellen Mullally, Community Legal Information

Mullally said this year's series of workshops were a natural next step to provide answers to legal questions and provide information that could be shared with family and friends.

The first two workshops were delivered in Mandarin and Arabic by guest speakers who were trained to be able to answer basic legal questions. The sessions were hosted in partnership with the Holland College Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program.

A third was delivered in English for people who didn't speak Mandarin or Arabic.

'Information they need'

"We identified those languages because we have people coming to our office who sometimes are coming with an interpreter, mostly from those two languages, so we decided to start there," Mullally said.

"It's the language barrier but it's also just the culture of justice from their home country."

In all, more than 200 people attended the first three workshops and due to the overwhelming response, the group is already planning more.

"It's just about making sure people are informed and that's really our mandate is to make sure people have the information they need to make informed decisions and to have better access to justice," Mullally said.

The next family law sessions will be held Wednesday Oct. 9 and 16 at the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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Tom Steepe

Video Journalist

Tom Steepe is an award-winning video journalist with CBC P.E.I.


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