Legal help will be available soon

  • Nov. 24, 2003 6:00 a.m.

Islanders will soon be able to get help with legal questions or problems, thanks to a grant from the Law Foundation of BC.
The funding will pay for 20 hours a week of advocacy work, said Sandra Beggs, project manager of the Haida Gwaii Legal Project – 10 hours in Skidegate and 10 hours in Masset. The project is also hoping to offer workshops on commonly-encountered legal issues, starting early next year.
“We’re not there to provide legal advice, because we’re not lawyers, but legal advocacy,” Ms Beggs said.
Lawyer Susie Gray, who travels to the islands once a month, is supervising the project. Bev Collinson, who worked for 27 years for the Haida Gwaii Legal Society until provincial government cutbacks shut it down, has been hired as the advocate.
“She is very experienced, very knowledgeable, and we are thrilled she is participating in the project,” Ms Beggs said.
The project will open an office in Skidegate next week, and is looking for donated office space to work out of in Masset, Ms Beggs said.
In Skidegate, the health centre has donated an office and a dedicated telephone line for one year. Ms Collinson can be reached at 559-8372. Her office hours are Monday and Tuesday from 9 am to noon, and from 1 pm to 3 pm. Drop-ins are welcome.
Ms Beggs is now looking for islanders who are interested in serving on a board of directors to oversee the new project. If you are interested, please contact Ms Collinson. For now, the project is under the umbrella of the Community Futures organization.
Ms Beggs said she was especially heartened to see the support the legal project has received from organizations here on the islands. This project had more letters of support than any other project in BC, she said.
The money for the project – $100,000 over the next two years – comes from the Law Foundation of BC, which is run by a board of lawyers and judges.