Skip to content

Learn, Grow, Connect: Practicing community legal education in a diverse Ontario

Public legal education was how I started in the anti-poverty community where I have been working for many years, and so I am always interested in seeing how it has grown as a resource for “turning straw into gold” (as I have always described making legal issues accessible to people who need them).

So when CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario) invited me to come to this event and be on a panel to talk about PovNetU, I was pleased to come to reconnect with old friends, and make new ones.

Armed with a powerpoint presentation created by PovNet’s creative and imaginative techie (I have historically been allergic to this particular technology, but I was determined to try), I found myself in very good company, with other community-minded adult educators who were trying out online teaching and learning methods and an audience who was receptive and interested in what we were trying to accomplish online. There was a great deal of interest in PovNetU, and we’re on the way to connecting with other community advocates interested in online learning and sharing resources.

A particular focus of the conference which is of ongoing interest to us at PovNet was discussions about access to information of any kind in rural and remote communities. Although the provinces are very different from each other, the problems that surfaced in workshops and plenaries about problems with transportation (for example, getting to a welfare office when there are no buses).

CLEO’s new “Six Languages Text and Audio Project” was highlighted — materials are available in Arabic, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu.

This was a creative bunch of people, and one of the workshops was on popular theatre as a medium for getting legal information into the hands of the people who need it.

SH/IM/E/HIM is a puppet also known as Shim and Shimmy. Shim emerged from the capable hands of injured workers on June 1, 2006, and was conceived as a way of dramatizing the long-standing slogan “No More Cap in Hand”. Shim is a universal injured worker representing men and women of diverse backgrounds. Operated by three people, Shim walks with a cane and doffs a cap marked “justice”, refusing to accept the pennies offered by the crowd.