Legal aid clinic to launch for Windsorites experiencing anti-Black racism

·2 min read

A Toronto-based legal aid clinic is expanding its reach to southwestern Ontario to help Black Windsorites address legal challenges, specifically those related to anti-Black racism.

Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) is partnering up with Windsor's Women's Enterprise Skills Training (WEST) to create a satellite clinic that will address concerns the local Black community is facing. The clinic will launch in the new year and offer free virtual support.

BLAC community legal worker Khaldah Salih spoke with CBC's Windsor Morning Wednesday to talk about what's to come.

"We just want to be able to bring these services directly to the folks in Windsor so that they have access to legal services, legal help and legal information," Salih said.

Salih said services include anything from addressing racial discrimination at work or in school to filing a human rights complaint related to excessive use of force by police officers against Black people.

"A huge part of why we do the work that we do is so that there is a space where people's concerns are validated and that there is somebody who understands the complexities of how discrimination happens and how it takes place," she said.

Program coordinator at WEST, Joan Simpson, was also interviewed by CBC's Windsor Morning Wednesday.

She said there are many issues that Black people struggle with in Windsor, specifically related to housing, filing for social assistance and employment. With BLAC's help she thinks they can better tackle some of these long-standing challenges.

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"It is very difficult. Oftentimes [the Black community] feel like their perspective is not being listened to or heard ... sometimes they don't even know where to turn," she said.

'Definitely filling a gap'

Simpson said WEST is excited to take part in this initiative and offer more resources to the diverse community they service.

She said this is especially important given the events of the past year.

This pandemic has been just a long drawn out experience and on top of that we've seen so many issues in regards to Black lives matter and so many protests here in Windsor and just all over the world and so definitely it is needed," she said.

Simpson said she's been a resident of Windsor for over 30 years after moving here from Jamaica. She says she loves the city but wants to know that Black people are heard and "given the opportunity as far as accessing services and our voices are ... not only heard but listened to and actions are going to be taken."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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