Professor Suzanne Bouclin (Common Law Section) has received a Partnership Engage Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a project entitled “Assessing the discrimination against Ottawa's Homeless to Improve their Access to Justice,” which will help to enhance the community legal clinic she relaunched in 2014.
The new research project aims to build on the Ticket Defence Program (TDP), a free mobile community legal clinic that Professor Bouclin re-established after a hiatus of almost a decade as a way to help homeless people charged with local regulatory offences. Homeless people regularly receive “nuisance” tickets for engaging in survival tactics (panhandling, sleeping in public, trespassing, etc.). Unpaid tickets can result in refused employment, denial of social services and prison sentences. As the only non-profit in Ottawa with the explicit mandate to fight these tickets, TDP has been very effective. The new project aims to provide the TDP with statistics and other data it requires to improve its provision of legal services and engage in broader advocacy work. The new research will also test the TDP’s anecdotal evidence that specific marginalized groups – First Nations, Metis, Inuit and other Indigenous people namely – are especially targeted by discriminatory police practices. Professor Bouclin’s co-investigators on this project include Cintia Quiroga, Assistant Dean of Research at the Faculty of Law, and Professor Marie-Eve Sylvestre of the Faculty’s Civil Law Section.
SSHRC’s Partnership Engage Grants “provide short-term and timely support for partnered research activities that will inform decision-making at a single partner organization from the public, private or not-for-profit sector. The small-scale, stakeholder-driven partnerships supported through the Partnership Engage Grants are meant to respond to immediate needs and time constraints facing organizations in non-academic sectors” (SSHRC – Partnership Engage Grants).
Congratulations to Professor Bouclin and her team!