The Alberta Law Foundation recently announced renewed funding for the Portage College Public Legal Education (PLE) program, which offers public legal education workshops and resources in cooperation with communities and organizations in northeast Alberta.
The program is running for its nineteenth consecutive year. Program Coordinator Shelley Jackson explains: “Back in 2000, past President Bill Persley recognized that legal issues were a barrier for some students in completing their education. He contacted the Alberta Law Foundation and it resulted in PLE being established at Portage College. It started as strictly student programming but later grew to include partnerships with the communities in our service area. We’re now the only rural-based PLE program in the province.”
Nancy Broadbent, President and CEO of Portage College, sees the value of PLE to communities. “The College is very fortunate to have a partnership with the Alberta Law Foundation. Public Legal Education opens the door to valuable information for our community members which may not otherwise be accessible.”
Improving the legal education and knowledge of Albertans is a major objective of the Alberta Law Foundation, which, like the PLE programs it funds, is a non-profit organization. In 2018-2019 alone, over $22 million in funding was granted to 45 organizations across Alberta.
The Portage College PLE program offers workshops and resources covering a variety of law-related topics to a diverse range of audiences. Past sessions have included: Self-Representation in Court, Landlord and Tenant Rights, Responding to Hate, Aboriginal Hunting & Fishing Rights, Restorative Justice, Wills and Estates, and many more.
“We deliver out in the communities and we rely on partnerships with organizations. The topics are different all the time—it could be domestic violence and human rights one month, a Revenue Canada tax presentation at tax time, then Indigenous rights, resistance, and history the next month,” says Shelley Jackson.
The program has exceeded all major training goals in just the first 6 months of 2018-2019:
- 1321 course participants (120% of target)
- 59 sessions (118% of target)
- 204 hours of presentation (272% of target)
“PLE is always looking for opportunities to deliver workshops in our service area. If you have an idea for a workshop in your classroom, or community, send me an email at [email protected] or call me at 780-623-5680. Most sessions are free. People can also sign up for our free newsletter or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”