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About The HRC
Those three powerful words change the trajectory of lives. They change the lives of babies, children, youth, and adults who have fled their homelands and arrived seeking refuge in our province.
Many have survived unimaginable injustices and traumas, yet they show tremendous courage, resilience, and hope. They come due to civil war, or due to political or religious persecution, or because they are escaping forced marriages. They come because of who they love, who they are and what they believe in.
We receive no government core funding; we are privately funded and generate most of our operating revenue from ordinary people who believe in our work.
Our office was generously donated to us, and having a low overhead means we can invest dollars where they are most needed: improving the lives of refugees and advocating for a more inclusive and vibrant Nova Scotia. With your help, we can say “yes” each time we are asked to help. Your contribution directly supports people seeking protection in Nova Scotia so that they can stay and rebuild their lives here.
The Halifax Refugee Clinic (HRC) was created in 2000, by Immigration, Refugee and Human Rights lawyer Lee Cohen, QC, to ensure that some of the world’s most vulnerable and persecuted people receive urgently needed support and representation while they navigate the refugee protection process.
Legal Aid is currently not available to refugee claimants and non-status migrants in Nova Scotia. This is why the HRC’s mandate is to provide legal representation for those claiming refugee status in Nova Scotia, to ensure that they are given a fair opportunity to present their cases before the Immigration and Refugee Board, and that throughout the process, their rights and their integrity are fully respected.
In addition to comprehensive legal support, the HRC provides complete settlement services, engages in local and national advocacy efforts and serves as a hub for community engagement and partnerships. The HRC offers significant practical training opportunities for law and social justice students, practicing lawyers and community members in the area of refugee law and human rights law. The HRC hosts a robust pro-bono lawyer program.
Honours & Awards
The Halifax Refugee Clinic honoured to be the recipient of the following awards:
- Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia AwardLegal Seagull Award (2011)
- Nova Scotia Human Rights Award (2011)
- Game Changers Experiential Learning Award, Halifax Partnerships (2017)
- Bhayana Family Foundation Invisible Champion Award (2020)
- ISANS Award (2020)
The Halifax Refugee Clinic’s life changing work is guided by a volunteer board of directors and is implemented by an expert staff team and robust network of volunteers and pro-bono lawyers. Community partners and donors help to make our work possible. Thank you!
- Julie Chamagne: Executive Director
- Gillian Smith: Settlement Coordinator
- Ayat Noori: Legal Case Manager
- Swantje Jahn: Donor & Community Engagement Coordinator
- Lina Hamid: Housing Support Worker
- Gabriella Utreras Sandoval: Staff Counsel
As well as a dedicated team of:
- Volunteer lawyers and law students
- Research assistants
- Settlement workers
- Translators and interpreters
- English teachers and tutors
- Placement students from various disciplines such as social work, law, and occupational therapy
Board Of Directors:
We are a not-for-profit organization with an independent Board of Directors. Thank you to each of these board members who dedicate their time and commitment to the Halifax Refugee Clinic
- Barbara David
- Debra Ross
- Driton Dembogaj
- Joshua Judah
- Lee Cohen (Chair Emeritus)
- Penny Mackinnon
- Sara Mahaney
- Shiva Nourpanah
- San Patten