The University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project (UORAP) was launched following the 2012 changes to Canada's refugee system. The project seeks to address key access to justice concerns for asylum seekers within Canada's claim system.
UORAP is both a programmatic intervention on the community level and a larger research initiative. As a programmatic intervention, UORAP has developed resources and delivered training to over 300 community workers in 6 major refugee-hosting cities in Canada. This work includes a Hearing Preparation Kit for refugee claimants and an Online Training for community workers, including a Facilitator’s Guide and supplementary documents. This outreach took place in 2013-2014.
As a larger research initiative and under the leadership of Professor Jennifer Bond and co-investigators, Professor David Wiseman and Emily Bates, UORAP has continued its multi-year project to study the use of evidence in Canada’s refugee claim system. The UORAP team has presented and workshopped the project’s phase 1 findings report via a dedicated panel at the 2017 conference of the Canadian Association for Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS17), a leading national conference on refugee issues. This findings report is currently being finalized for publication. Other publications on the project include: Troubling Signs: Mapping Access to Justice in Canada's Refugee System Reform; The Cost of Uncertainty: Navigating the Boundary between Legal Information and Legal Services in the Access to Justice Sector; Shortchanging Justice: The Arbitrary Relationship between Refugee System Reform and Federal Legal Aid Funding.
The project has also continued to build its youth outreach program, drawing on the experience of conducting pilot presentations on refugee rights in several high schools throughout 2016. In 2018, Professor David Wiseman will lead a dedicated course at the Faculty of Law that will, among other things, help to design a new curriculum for enrichment courses on refugee rights targeted towards high school and middle school students.