A Message from the Chief Justice about Access to Justice

Justice can be a tough word to define, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

In 2014, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society started a public conversation on what justice means to different people, and how individuals in marginalized communities access legal services and the justice system.

The project was called #TalkJustice, and a final report summarizing its findings was released a year later, in the spring of 2015.


While we often equate justice with crime and the courts, #TalkJustice showed us there are many reasons why people get involved with the legal system — they may be starting a business, filing for divorce, fighting a speeding ticket or resolving a dispute with a neighbour.

We also learned that legal issues often intersect with other everyday struggles, and that the term “justice” can mean very different things depending on who you talk to. In fact, many respondents said there really is no such thing as justice for the people in their communities.

This is a serious problem. Whether it’s due to economic, educational or other barriers, too many people don’t have access to the legal help they need or confidence that the justice system can work for them.

We need your help to change this.


With the support of its partners on Nova Scotia’s Access to Justice Coordinating Committee, the Society has just launched the second phase of #TalkJustice to gather people’s experiences with legal services and the justice system.

This time, we want people across the province to share their stories using an online research tool at TALKJUSTICE.CA >>

Until now, there has been no effective way to measure the complexity of people’s experiences with the justice system. This is a completely new way to engage the public.

Basically, the information you share will be added to a database using software that reveals the stories’ patterns and relationships. What you’re left with is the statistical data government and organizations need to plan justice programs, policies and services.

Our hope is that by gathering these stories, we’ll gain a better understanding of what’s working in the system and what isn’t, so we can make changes that will improve people’s experiences in the future.

It’s about putting the public first and ultimately improving access for all Nova Scotians.

That’s what Justice Thomas Cromwell of the Supreme Court of Canada called for in his 2013 report A ROADMAP FOR CHANGE >> and it’s what I’ve been committed to since I became Co-Chair of Nova Scotia's ACCESS TO JUSTICE COORDINATING COMMITTEE >>

Please consider taking part in this important work. You can share as many stories as you like and you’ll never have to identify yourself or others.

Go to TALKJUSTICE.CA >> now to share your story, and then send this to a friend, co-worker, or loved one and ask them to do the same.

A justice system that puts people first is possible — but we need your help to get there.

The Honourable Michael J. MacDonald,
Chief Justice of Nova Scotia

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