Human Rights Project

Project Summary

The Human Rights Project provides legal assistance to unrepresented claimants who have carriage of their complaint before the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal. After a complainant has filed a Human Rights complaint with the Commission, the Director may dismiss or discontinue the complaint if they decide it does not have merit. After that, the complainant can request the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals (the Chief) to review that decision. The Chief can order that a Tribunal hears the matter if they find that there is a reasonable basis in the evidence to proceed. At this point, the complainant must assume carriage of their own complaint (as opposed to complaints that are accepted by the Director where the Director represents the complainant). It is in these circumstances that PBSC student volunteers and the supervising lawyer may work on files that are proceeding to Tribunal Dispute Resolution (TDR) or to a Hearing.

Students will support volunteer lawyers as they provide legal assistance to self-represented claimants and respondents before the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Students will have the opportunity to interview clients and conduct legal research. The Alberta Human Rights Act establishes the Alberta Human Rights Commission to carry out functions under the Act. The purpose of the Alberta Human Rights Act is to ensure that all Albertans are offered an equal opportunity to earn a living, find a place to live, and enjoy services customarily available to the public without discrimination.

“I volunteered for the Human Rights Project for the experience of litigation and managing a file from start to finish. As part of the project there are opportunities to conduct client intake interviews, draft submissions, and advocate for our clients at mediation or the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal. You also learn how to manage client expectations in an empathetic manner during very difficult circumstances.”

Fatima Campos, 3L
Project Lead

Number of Students and Prerequisites

– 4 upper year students
– 2 first year students
– 2 Project Leads
– For the upper year student volunteers, they must either be enrolled in or have completed Administrative Law and/or Human Rights Law

Area of Law

– Human Rights Law
– Constitutional Law
– Labour and Employment Law

Legal Skills

– Delivery of legal information
– File management skills
– Client interviewing skills
– Oral advocacy skills
– Public speaking skills

Project Type

Direct Legal Assistance Project

“The Human Rights Project is unique because it provides direct legal assistance to claimants before the Alberta Human Rights Commission. With this project, students have the opportunity to carry out the functions of the Alberta Human Rights Act and ensure all individuals have access to basic necessities including earning a living, shelter, and public services without discrimination.”

Katie Ross, 2L
Project Lead

Timeline and Time Commitment

Student volunteers on this project are expected to volunteer from October 2020 to March 2021 (excluding December 2020). PBSC students are expected to volunteer 3-5 hours per week. Additional hours are at the students’ discretion. Overall, all PBSC projects are easily manageable alongside academic demands.

Required Training

All training for this project is schedule and provided by PBSC Calgary and the organization. This training will take place in September-October 2020, and will not conflict with students’ course schedules.

In addition to AHRC’s specific training, the following PBSC training sessions are mandatory to volunteer on this project:
– PBSC Process Overview
– PBSC Ethics and Professional Responsibility Training
– PBSC Anti-Oppression Training
– Westlaw Research Strategies Training
– A Human Rights Law Overview, provided by Linda McKay-Panos, Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre and Faculty of Law Professor at the University of Calgary

Specific dates and times will be provided once volunteers are placed on their respective projects.

COVID-19 Contingency Plan

Student volunteers on this project will conduct all of their project-related work, training sessions, and meetings remotely for the duration of the project. The possibility of in-person work, training sessions, and meetings is subject to directives from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law and Alberta’s public health authority.

How to Apply?

Applications for the 2020/2021 year are now closed. The application deadline for the 2021/2022 cycle will become available August 2021.