BC’s Attorney General David Eby and approximately 100 other guests helped MOSAIC’s Legal Advocacy Program to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary on November 14th at the organization’s headquarters.
The program provides information, summary advice, referrals and representation on matters pertaining to immigration, poverty and family law and is available to low-income immigrants and refugees. Over the course of the past 25 years, the program has worked on over 20,000 cases. In the past year, 1200+ cases were reviewed with clients in 51 languages, covering 18 areas of law. For 24 years, MOSAIC was the only provider of these services to the newcomer community.
The BC Law Foundation has been the partner and funder for the Legal Advocacy Program for its entire existence. Not only does the foundation provide funds which allow MOSAIC to hire a three-person team of legal advocates, but their grants also provide for supervising lawyers who support and advise the MOSAIC team. Sherman Chan, Director of Family and Settlement Services, was effusive in his thanks to the foundation for their support over the years, saying that the long-term relationship has allowed for the expansion of services to various cities in BC and the extension of services to include temporary foreign workers; refugee claimants; and international students.
BC Law Foundation Executive Director, Josh Paterson, graciously said that he, the staff and governors of the Law Foundation thank MOSAIC. “The work that these programs do is so critical and makes such a difference in the lives of people. We are very proud to support this program.”
The Hon. David Eby shared that one of his first assignments as a new lawyer involved working with MOSAIC and that he and the institutions he has worked with since that time have referred “countless” people to the Legal Advocacy Program. “I knew when I referred someone to MOSAIC, they would get the help they needed, and that’s a reassuring thing”.
The event also included a keynote address from UBC Law Professor Efrat Arbel, who spoke about Canada’s multiple borders strategy which allows “open borders for some, but keeps them systematically closed for others”. Professor Arbel expressed hope that the rights and protections provided by Canada’s Charter of Rights will be extended to refugee claimants.
BC’s new Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender was also in attendance and offered a toast which started the evening. Other speakers included former supervising lawyer Lesley Stalker (formerly a UNHCR representative) and former client Aida Sanjush who was helped by the program to obtain her permanent resident status and was recently awarded with a full scholarship to UBC.