There are many shortcomings in Canada with regard to access to justice. All users of the justice system face challenges obtaining access to justice, but for people from francophone minority communities the challenges are even greater.
In criminal matters, Canada provides that all justice system users in minority language communities are entitled to equal access to justice in their own language (Part XVII of the Criminal Code). This means they are entitled to the same access as individuals in the majority language group in all regards, including timeliness, cost and quality.
In May 2013, the Association of universities of the Canadian Francophonie (AUFC) met with the Department of Justice Canada to explore opportunities for cooperation flowing from the recently announced federal Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018. The AUFC was granted funding from Justice Canada for a feasibility study to determine whether stakeholders would be interested in establishing a national network for justice training, and if so, how such a network could be implemented.
The feasibility study led to the creation, on February 12, 2014, of the National network for Justice training (RNFJ). At the members’ request, RNFJ activities are coordinated by the National Secretariat of the Association of colleges and universities (ACUFC), formerly the AUFC.
The activities of the National network for justice training (RNFJ) encompass criminal law as well as family law, civil law, administrative law and immigration law. Because Canada’s judicial system can vary greatly depending on the province or territory and the field of law, the RNFJ’s activities are adapted to local realities and local statutory requirements with respect to language rights.