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From the OJEN Blog

Reason #12 to Donate to OJEN’s 15th Birthday

Indigenous youth explore the role of technology in increasing access to justice.

OJEN turned 15 this year!

Since 2002, our programs and resources have impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people throughout Ontario.  And we’re just getting started! Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond we’re excited about opportunities to expand our justice education initiatives to new youth audiences. We know that providing young people with the legal life skills to navigate their world is one important factor contributing to greater access to justice. 

Between now and the end of 2017, we’ll be posting 15 of our most significant achievements – reasons we think you’ll want to give us an extra-special year-end present!

Donate $15 or $150 …or more!  Read all 15 reasons why your donation to OJEN will make a difference.

Reason #12

OJEN facilitates youth-led learning for Indigenous students.

When we have that mutual respect for one another- the police can respect us and we can respect them – then they don’t have to use these stereotypes against us.

Youth participant, Youth/Police Dialogue – Thunder Bay

“What are my rights and responsibilities when dealing with police?” 

“What are the differences between traditional Indigenous law and the Canadian justice system?”

“How can technology help improve access to justice?”

These and other questions from Indigenous youth are the starting point for a variety of youth-led justice education projects OJEN facilitates.  Whenever possible, OJEN encourages youth to set the agenda for their programs. Directing their own learning contributes to greater engagement. This is especially important for groups of youth with historically challenging relationships with the justice system. In the case of Indigenous youth, this may lead them to explore Indigenous legal traditions, in addition to learning about the Canadian legal system.

In 2017, special project funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) and the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) allowed us to deliver a number of Indigenous youth-directed learning opportunities. Here are two of them:

 Aboriginal Youth Designing a Better Justice System

In August, 25 Indigenous youth from throughout Ontario came together in Thunder Bay for an intensive 3 day program to explore the role technology could play in increasing access to justice for their communities.  Funded by the LFO, the project was a partnership involving the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, Justice for Children and Youth, the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, and OJEN. The youth chose to focus on legal rights education for youth and relationship-building with police. Led through exercises by a design thinking expert,  they designed prototypes for two apps and a website. Watch for the release of a white paper describing the process and the results in the new year.

OJEN on the Air: the Law & Radio Project

Funding from OTF allowed us to adapt our existing Law & Radio project for Indigenous youth, and pilot the program at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and Matawa Learning Centre in Thunder Bay.  Students chose a law-based subject they were interested in learning more about, and OJEN introduced them to legal experts who answered their questions.  Partnering with Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services and the Wawatay Radio Network, OJEN arranged for the students to draft scripts and record their radio segments on Gladue and the police complaints process, which were broadcast to 30,000 people in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Treaty 3 areas in northern Ontario. 

 Facilitating Indigenous youth-led learning is another way OJEN empower youth through justice education.  It’s another Reason to Give to our 15th Birthday Campaign.




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