The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and the Queer Justice Project are extremely saddened and deeply concerned by the news of the death of a Queer community member at Redeemer University.
Please find our full statement linked here: Statement-Letter
CW: The contents of the statement may be triggering, as they address suicide. Exercise care while reading and engaging.
On November 24th, 2022, a hate rally was organized in response to a family-friendly Drag Storytime event being held at the Terryberry library. Unfortunately, in response to the organization of this event, a small group of bigots gathered in an attempt to disrupt and protest. The words and actions of this group were in line with the rising tide of violence and hate that Queer communities across Canada are facing. Their allegations against the organizers, talent, and Queer community more broadly, have no basis in reality, and are irresponsible, ignorant, and dangerous. The Queer Justice Project and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic condemn this hateful demonstration.
Such events are displays of ignorant bigotry that are putting our Queer communities in danger. It must not rest solely on Queer communities to bear witness, defend against, and call out this pattern of hate and violence. For our community at large, who might be just engaging with issues impacting the Queer community, we encourage you to take advantage of numerous educational and informational tools that can accessed online, including through the Hamilton Public Library. Queerness challenges and calls on all of us to reconsider beliefs and realities about more than just gender and sexuality but about how we love and live alongside each other in ways that respect and celebrate differences. All members of our community should rise to that challenge out of a shared spirit of love and acceptance – and not hatred and violence.
View the full statement on anti-2SLGBTQ+ action at Terryberry library
Press ReleaseFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2022
Earlier this year, Constable Brian Wren was charged with assault. Police service said it received a video from a business and a citizen after police arrested a suspect in a stolen vehicle investigation. Police said the officer’s use of force led to a criminal investigation.
Const. Brian Wren was immediately suspended and now also faces an assault charge. His first court appearance was July 21.
The individual assaulted and harmed is a member of the City of Hamilton Indigenous community. Members of the Indigenous community are very concerned that this appears not to be an isolated incident. This is the second time this has happened to this individual. The Hamilton Regional Indian Friendship Centre has justice related programs and reports that these types of allegations of aggressive police behaviours are frequent. This particular assault needs to be taken seriously, and major changes need to be made to not only protect our Indigenous relatives but also help protect our relatives of colour, members of various other ethnic backgrounds and members of other marginalized groups.
A full press release will take place on Tuesday August 2, 2022 at 1230pm in front of Hamilton Police Services downtown central location at 155 King William Street, Hamilton Ontario with members of Indigenous leadership, Indigenous community members and our friends and allies.
The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic continues to advocate to protect the constitutional rights of Hamilton’s unhoused population in the courts against the City of Hamilton’s by-laws related to encampments.
Last week, Hamilton City Council approved a motion directing Hamilton’s parks by-law be enforced to remove encampments within 24 to 48 hours. City Council approved a second motion to allocate roughly $417,000.00 to hire 4 additional Municipal by-law officers to enforce the encampment by-law 24/7.
This hardline approach comes only a few months after City Council passed a motion proposed by Councillor Nrinder Nann to convene a roundtable committee with a focus on “human-rights based, health-focused” approach to housing which recognized that an “enforcement led response” wouldn’t solve homelessness or lead to healing community relationships. The roundtable has never been convened.
Enforcing the parks by-law does not respond to the needs of Hamilton’s unhoused population, because it does not create shelter or housing – a view shared by health professionals, shelter workers, and other providing services to the unhoused. The City has taken the position that when someone is living on the street and unable to obtain shelter, that they will strip them of their essentials for human survival, such as their tent, blankets, clothing, sentimental items and more, leaving them empty-handed with nothing but their clothing on their backs and nowhere to go.
Homelessness in Hamilton is growing worse. A growing housing crisis has pushed precariously housed tenants out of their homes. COVID-19 has brought unique challenges for many communities in Hamilton, including job loss or income reduction, and an increased cost of living.
Last fall, the HCLC filed commenced legal proceedings arguing that City’s ongoing efforts to dismantle encampments violate the Charter. Our case will be heard sometime in early 2023.
We are also excited to announce that we have two new co-counsel joining our legal team: Wade Poziomka (@WPoziomka) from Ross & McBride (@rossmcbridellp), and Sujit Choudhry (@sujit_choudhry) from Choudhry Law. Wade is a well-known and respected local human rights and employment lawyer and was previously involved with the 2020 encampment litigation. Sujit has a broad public law practice on questions of constitutional law, administrative law, public international law and international human rights law.
We must all work together to address the housing crisis and ending homelessness. We encourage the City to take a human-rights and housing-first approach to supporting the diverse needs of its unhoused population. Greater enforcement without increased resources and support for the unhoused population will only further stigmatize, criminalize and traumatize those living in our community’s greenspaces.
A copy of our statement has been attached here: HCLC Encampment Litigation
January 21, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hamilton Community Legal Clinic’s Response to Councillor Nann’s Motion Re: Encampment Response
Hamilton Community Legal Clinic welcomes Council’s vote to change the way it responds to encampments. Specifically, the City has agreed to consult with community stakeholders, including front line services working with the unhoused population, those with lived experience, and the health sector, to create a “human rights based, health focused approach to housing”. A copy of the motion can be reviewed by clicking here.
We have always encouraged this type of collaboration and person-centred approach.
Tackling the issue of homelessness and some of its root causes can seem like a monumental undertaking. There are, however, immediate alternatives to encampments evictions which do not require significant funding changes: revising and unifying shelter service restriction policies so that fewer people are unnecessarily banned from shelters, temporarily suspending by-law enforcement, and allocating existing emergency funds to affordable housing projects like tiny cabins (which have already been established in various municipalities).
We are pleased to see the City signal a willingness to engage in an open dialogue on an incredibly important matter. We encourage the City of Hamilton to prioritize these discussions and resolution in light of the urgency of the ongoing pandemic, shelter and housing crisis.
We are hopeful that the newly formed committee results in solutions that address and eradicate the harms associated with homelessness and evicting encampment residents.
For a copy of this letter, please click here: Statement
The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, in partnership with Pro Bono Ontario and the Hamilton Law Association, is searching for volunteers lawyers to participate in the Hamilton Pro Bono Wills Project.
For more information, please review the flyer attached: Hamilton Pro Bono Wills – Flyer.
To participate in the program or inquire further about the work of the Hamilton Pro Bono Wills Project please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly allow upwards to two weeks for a response.