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Windsor survey to explore access to justice issues with Arab community

Friday, September 14, 2018 @ 9:00 AM | By John Chunn

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Two University of Windsor academics are conducting a study regarding the Arab community and access to justice.

The online survey, which is open now and runs until Oct. 1, is a partnership between the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association and University of Windsor with support from the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The survey is available in English and Arabic. Eligible participants include those who identify as Arab and those who work or associate closely with an Arab community.

“This is a groundbreaking survey for both Arabs in Ontario and access to justice more broadly. The survey aims to understand attitudes towards the legal system and experiences within the legal system. Dr. Suzanne McMurphy and I developed the survey with extensive community consultations. We have introduced the concept of institutional trustworthiness as an aspect of access to justice,” said Reem Bahdi, a professor with the University of Windsor’s School of Law. Co-author McMurphy is a professor with Windsor’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology.

The objective is to better understand the issues and legal needs and experiences of Arab communities in order to better advocate for resources that are most needed, Bahdi said.

“Canada's latest census shows that the Arabic language is the second most-spoken language after English in many major cities in Ontario and one of the fastest growing languages in Toronto. However, there are very few resources in Arabic available in these communities,” said Dania Majid, president of the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association.

“Arabs in Ontario are twice as likely to hold a university degree but half as likely to be employed when compared to the average Canadian. We are looking for the why in regards to these type of issues and trying to understand whether law can help advance equality,” said Hussein Zarif, project advisory board member in Windsor.