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New Partnership: Unaccompanied Minors Project

The Refugee Hub’s Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) is thrilled to announce its new partnership with Pro Bono Ontario on their Unaccompanied Minors Project. The demand for this service has increased significantly in recent months, and the SSP Program will be providing volunteer lawyer recruitment and coordination capacity to this important and expanding initiative.

Description of the Project

Each year, hundreds of children arrive at Ontario’s ports of entry alone and seeking refugee protection. They are fleeing war, persecution and other difficult circumstances. In addition to starting fresh in a new land, these children are vulnerable and in dire need of support as they try to navigate Canada’s immigration and refugee system. PBO matches these children with volunteer Designated Representatives, who help them retain and instruct counsel, prepare for hearings and make decisions about their immigration matters.

Role of Designated Representative

The role of a Designated Representative is not to act as a legal representative, but rather to act in the child’s best interest throughout the immigration and refugee process. The Designated Representative assists the child in understanding the decision-making process, instructing counsel, gathering information for Immigration and Refugee Board Hearings, and depending on the child’s age and level of understanding, speaking for the child at hearings.

Some of the responsibilities of a designated representative include:

  • Explaining the procedure and stages of the child’s case to the child
  • Protecting the interest of the child, and assisting in putting forward the best possible case
  • Making the decision on whether or not counsel needs to be retained, and if so, providing or supporting the child’s instructions to counsel
  • Assisting with gathering evidence, and if necessary, being a witness at hearings

Eligibility

In addition to being 18 years or older, the Designated Representative is required to:

  • Have a general understanding of the proceedings before the Immigration and Refugee Board
  • Be willing to act in the best interest of the child
  • Not have a conflict of interest with the child they are representing
  • Be a lawyer in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Clear a Vulnerable Sector Screening check

Supports

The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) is partnering with PBO to promote and coordinate volunteer lawyer participation in this important program. The partnership is committed to supporting volunteers in this important role. Volunteers have access to:

  • Online accredited CPD material
  • Reimbursement for fees associated with the Vulnerable Sector Screening
  • Mentorship through the RSP
  • Access to country profile reports
  • PBO program coordinator support
  • SSP legal coordinator support

Additional information about the role of a Designated Representative and the immigration and refugee process can be found through the following links:

Designated Representative’s Guide

http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/BoaCom/references/LegJur/Pages/GuideDesRep.aspx

Procedures

http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/BoaCom/references/procedures/Pages/index.aspx

To Become a Designated Representative through this Initiative

Contact Project Coordinator, Laurine Shaw (contact information below) to:

  • Get access to training material through volunteer portal (https://pbovolunteers.org/)
  • Verify that the training video has been reviewed
  • Obtain information on how to complete a Vulnerable Sector Screening

The Designated Representative Project coordinator will ensure that the Legal Coordinator for the Toronto SSP program is aware of involvement with this volunteer opportunity.

Project Contact:
Laurine Shaw, Project Coordinator
Tel.:  416-597-0770 ext. 902
E-mail: laurine@probonoontario.org

Media Contacts:
Lynn Burns, Executive Director
Tel.: 416-597-0770 ext. 925
E-mail: lynn@probonoontario.org