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Better legal information

What we’re reading: “Newcomers Facing Labour Struggles” – a comic book

We’ve written here before about the use of storytelling in comic format to expand the reach of public legal education and information to new audiences in fresh and accessible ways. “Newcomers Facing Labour Struggles” is the latest example we’ve seen of this genre.

This eight-page comic, produced by KEYS Job Centre and available in eight languages, tells the stories of four immigrants struggling with problems in the workplace. Based on common real-life scenarios, the comic includes some basic information about workers’ rights in Ontario, as well as a list of resources and places to seek information and help.

The comic was actually an unanticipated outcome from a legal information training partnership led by KEYS in 2017-2018. KEYS had not originally intended to produce a legal information resource for the public through this project, one of CLEO’s Connecting Communities Training Partnerships supported by The Law Foundation of Ontario.

The project’s original focus was on training community workers in the Kingston area to recognize common legal problems faced by newcomers and to respond with information and referrals. However, through feedback given post-training, KEYS learned that participants responded especially well to community-based case studies designed to reinforce understanding and learning.

“They really appreciated our ‘boiling down’ aspects of the law such as the changes to the Employment Standards Act and found the case studies very helpful,” said Bridget Glassco, mentoring partnership coordinator at KEYS who oversees production and distribution of the comic books. “And our ESL instructor team also pointed out that a comic or graphic novel produced in this manner and translated into different languages would result in greater readership amongst newcomers.” So, KEYS decided to create the comic books, which includes characters in the comic book based on four case studies of common employment law problems faced by newcomers.

These inviting resources were launched in late 2018, but have only now just been made available online in eight languages through CLEO's Your Legal Rights. In addition to giving copies directly to newcomers that they work with, KEYS has been using them as an outreach tool to help newcomer and settlement agencies build legal information capacity in Kingston and other communities. In addition to The Law Foundation’s support of this work, OPSEU provided financial support to help KEYS produce the comic books printed in several languages.

Download the comic books in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Mandarin, or Kirundi. Or you can contact KEYS Job Centre directly to enquire about ordering print copies.