Newcomers and immigrants often are unfamiliar with laws in their new countries and recognizing this, MOSAIC lobbied for free legal services for clients. With support from the Legal Aid Society, a Weekly Legal Clinic was set up in 1977. With MOSAIC providing multilingual support, this is the first project that specifically targeted the legal needs of newcomers. Ujjal Dosanjh, former MOSAIC board member, former Attorney General and the 33rd Premier of BC, recalled coming to MOSAIC in the 70’s to meet with clients about their legal issues. “There was a real need for free legal services for immigrants dealing with a variety of issues and I was happy to provide some assistance.”
From 1994 until today, free services are provided through the Legal Advocacy Program, now supported through the Law Foundation of BC. Emma Andrews, MOSAIC’s Bilingual Counselor who spearheaded this initiative, recalls that “staff had to have a wide range of expertise because they had to assist their clients in a variety of life situations.” The in-house paralegal program allowed legal advocacy work to be performed on-site.
In 2004, MOSAIC launched the Multilingual Legal Publications website in partnership with the Latin American Community Council (LACC). By creating a centralized repository for legal information in different languages, immigrants and refugees were better able to access resources to understand their rights and responsibilities.
British Columbia’s 33rd Premier Ujjal Dosanjh is a former MOSAIC Board Member and contributed legal services to MOSAIC clients through the free weekly clinics organized by the organization.