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From the OJEN Blog

Legal Artivism

OJEN’s success in reaching broad and diverse youth audiences, is based on our practice of forging collaborative partnerships with existing youth-serving organisations. Meeting youth in their communities and tailoring programs to meet their unique needs and interests, opens the door to meaningful exchange about law and the legal system.  It fosters engagement and creates a dynamic environment for sharing information and building legal life skills that youth can apply now and in the future.

Over the summer, OJEN entered into a new partnership with R.I.S.E Edutainment. R.I.S.E. (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) empowers BIPOC youth in the Greater Toronto Area to create meaningful art rooted in self-knowledge and self-expression.  It offers youth a safe, inclusive environment to express their creative voice and develop leadership skills. It gives them a platform to perform their art for others and helps emerging artists reach new levels of artistry. Now in its 9th year, over 28,000 youth have attended their events.

Legal Artivism is a unique project developed by R.I.S.E. and made possible with a responsive grant from The Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO). The project offers racialized youth engaging and creative ways to learn about their rights, the legal system, and the community-based supports available to them. The young artists involved in the program meet with lawyers and other legal professionals and participate in workshops focussed on areas of law that they are interested in. Then they apply what they have learned to create poetry, music, and visual art that has a youth-focussed public legal education and information component. 

OJEN and the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) worked with R.I.S.E. to design and implement the public legal education program for the youth participants. Over the summer, OJEN staff and lawyer volunteers delivered workshops on civil and criminal law, navigating police encounters and family law. Together with BLAC, we also piloted the human rights, housing and employment law workshops developed as part of our Serious Legal Problems initiative

Nine R.I.S.E. artists between the ages of 18 and 30 participated in the program. An extremely engaged group, they were eager to learn about different areas of law and how they impact their daily lives and communities. Over the next several weeks, in consultation with lawyer volunteers and creative mentors, Legal Artivism participants will create images, songs, music, poetry, posters, and spoken word pieces that express their understanding of the legal system based on what they have learned in the program.

The project concludes with R.I.S.E. producing a series of videos and educational materials on 3 key legal areas that are of particular interest to youth.  These materials will be posted on their website and disseminated through various online platforms that young people regularly engage with, including Spotify, YouTube, and Instagram.  We look forward to sharing a link to the creations of the R.I.S.E. artists on our own website as well.

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