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Dr. Jennifer Bond has been working on the UORAP since 2011. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

Faculty of law profs to receive financial boost for work on refugee support programs

On Sept. 7 the provincial government announced that it will be providing funding to a number of projects in Ottawa, 28 of which are based at the University of Ottawa.

Among the newly funded projects is the University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project (UORAP), led by Jennifer Bond, associate professor from the U of O’s Faculty of Law.

The UORAP was founded in 2011 through a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario. Its research is also funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the U of O, and now the provincial government.

Bond found out about the Early Researcher Award through the university, and this was followed up by a formal announcement involving the university and the provincial government.

The funding itself is $100,000 from the province and $50,000 in matching funds from the U of O.

“I was delighted—both because it is an honour to receive the recognition and because I am excited that the funding will allow us to continue and deepen our work,” said Bond.

The UORAP’s work focuses on training refugee support staff—social workers, housing specialists, women’s counsellors, and faith-based groups—on how best to prepare their clients for legal proceedings.

“The UORAP’s mandate is to study and mitigate access to justice issues in Canada’s refugee system,” Bond said.

Bond believes that the project will help refugees by training the workers who interact with refugees on a daily basis, and by using their own research to make policy recommendations that will benefit people claiming refugee status in the future.

Aside from the UORAP, Bond’s group also runs a large-scale research project that uses actual case files—including audio recordings of hearings—to look for barriers faced by refugees who interact with the justice system, such as those who may be unfamiliar with how it works.

The UORAP is one of the many initiatives found in the Refugee Hub, an organization that is also run by Bond.

The Refugee Hub’s largest flagship initiative is the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP), which has trained over 1,300 lawyers on refugee sponsorship and supported them in doing pro-bono work with groups sponsoring refugees to Canada.

“The SSP supports refugees who are not yet in Canada, and the UORAP supports those who are here and trying to make a claim for protection. The UORAP’s work impacts all refugee claimants regardless of country of origin.”

The funding from the Ontario provincial government will also give U of O students a chance to participate in the UORAP in the upcoming years.

“This benefits the research team, because we have more people contributing to our work. It benefits the students, because they get to be involved in a great project, and learn about the importance of engaging in social justice initiatives generally. And it ultimately benefits refugees.”