A Qualitative Look at Serious Legal Problems Faced by Immigrants in Greater Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia

Executive Summary

This study was designed to gather information from immigrant communities in Greater Victoria and the Vancouver area to gain deeper insight into the immigrant experience when navigating through serious legal problems. Twenty in-depth interviews with newcomers and established immigrants (carried out between July and November 2020) showed that immigrants often feel unheard. Listening to their voices and understanding their legal needs was the focus of this report.

Many immigrants expressed that their unfamiliarity with Canadian laws and rights together with the uncertainty that comes with the first years of living in a new country affected their readiness to respond to serious legal problems.

While many legal problems that were arbitrated in court were resolved, the effects of facing legal struggles were long-term and many felt powerless throughout the process. At the same time immigrants also showed themselves to be strong and determined to make things better for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.