The Hamilton Justice Collaboratory: A Boldness project

April 23—May 18, 2018
Tim Hortons Field

By Rebecca Hammond, project lead for the Hamilton Justice Collaboratory, and criminal and family lawyer with Legal Aid Ontario

Too often, the justice system is overloaded as it attempts to address challenges for which it was not designed. As a result, people struggling with poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, and addiction, find themselves in a justice system that cannot provide them with the resources they need.

The formal justice system is failing the people of Hamilton in many ways and it is time to do something about it.

Project background

In November 2016, Legal Aid Ontario joined with a number of community partners at a day-long event to identify problems within the current justice system in Hamilton, and to begin generating ideas about how to solve those problems for low-income community members, as well as other justice system participants.

A common theme came out of that event; the current justice system does not properly address the needs of our community. This is especially true for family and criminal issues, and when it comes to providing meaningful services to members of the Indigenous communities, and to members of immigrant and refugee communities.

As a follow-up to the November 2016 event, representatives from Legal Aid Ontario in Hamilton have been meeting with service providers throughout the city since November 2017. The message they have received is clear. Something must be done to change the way we do justice in our city.

The Bold goal

A 20 per cent reduction in demand on the formal justice system in Hamilton by 2020.

Our next step

We are now going to bring the Hamilton community together for The Hamilton Justice Collaboratory: A Boldness Project. The collaboratory will be a four-week pop-up event. During this event, Hamilton community members and partners will work together to co-design innovative, collaborative, and culturally intelligent changes to the current justice system. There will be a specific emphasis on: criminal and family issues, services to Indigenous communities, services to immigrant and refugee communities, and the overlap of all of these areas.

With the support and guidance of many of our local service providers, the collaboratory will make many things possible, including the participation of inspiring speakers, large group conversations, and strategic and deep engagement with key participants.

Community members from a wide cross-section of society are all being invited to participate and discuss problems affecting Hamilton’s diverse community. These community members include:

  • clients of Legal Aid Ontario and the other community service providers
  • members of law enforcement
  • educators
  • researchers
  • Health care professionals
  • housing providers
  • addiction service providers
  • mental health service providers
  • alternative/Indigenous dispute resolution workers
  • child protection agencies
  • stakeholders from the immigrant and refugee communities
  • members of the current justice system

Together, we hope to develop and refine ideas, and attract key community influencers and investors to continue the work after the collaboratory has ended.

It’s time to show the world how Hamilton does it!

Learn more