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New legal centre set to help thousands of vulnerable young people

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A direct legal service for young people in British Columbia is now open, and the lawyers behind it are expecting to help thousands of children and teenagers.

The Child and Youth Legal Centre will focus on the needs of vulnerable young people, who often don’t get the representation they need in the legal system.

Donna Maser is a managing lawyer at the centre, and says it’s about access to justice.

“If a child or youth is able to express or form their own views, they have the right to have that view heard in matters that affect them, specifically legal matters.”

She says the centre will help young people with matters including family law, youth law and guardianship issues.

“In family law, if a family is separating the child might need a legal advocate to express their views and interests.”

“Other ones would be children being bullied in school, human rights issues, discrimination kind of issues, privacy issues, child protection if children are in care.”

Maser says there is a need in the community for vulnerable youth to have access to justice.

“We’re senior counsel, we’re experienced lawyers, and we expect to be very very busy.”

There are already similar legal centres in Ontario and Alberta.

There will be an emphasis on addressing the needs of immigrant and refugee, street involved, LGBTQ and Indigenous children and youth.

The office is in East Vancouver, but its services are open to young people from across the province.

The office is funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia and The Law Foundation of Ontario Access to Justice Fund, with additional financial support from the Notary Foundation of British Columbia, the Law Society of British Columbia and the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth of BC.