I've done legal aid for 30 years. I've had lots of indigenous clients, and I have run this plan, so I am accountable for this for the last 12 years. I was surprised that we were getting such a consistent.... Oh, sorry, and I'm a lawyer.
I said that I think it's because we're lawyers. It's because we are attached to procedural fairness: “Here are the rules that work in the courtroom. Here is what we're going to make sure happens.” That's what we are experts in. We'll do our best to make sure it's understandable to you, but that's not our first priority. Our first priority is making sure that procedural fairness works. That is what courts do. It is what they are for, and it is how we train lawyers.
But that's not what justice is for, and it's not what justice is to Canadians. Justice is accessible and meaningful. It is something that matters to them and their communities. We don't do a good job of that. Lawyers and judges don't do a good job of it. They're getting better. I work with some amazing judges and lawyers on this. There has really been a shift in the last five years, and I think it's going to shift some more. We talked earlier about the national action committee report on access to justice. I think that's a real hallmark of that kind of work. It calls for justice systems to be client-centred—not institution-centred, not lawyer- and judge-centred, but citizen-centred.
I think that's an important shift, one that takes us to the place where we start asking people what they think of our services. It has helped us a lot, as a legal aid plan, to actually go out to communities and say, “What do you think of what we do? We're figuring out ways to do it better.”