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In 2013, Justice Thomas Cromwell, formerly of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and later the Supreme Court of Canada, released his report, A ROADMAP FOR CHANGE >> on the state of access to civil and family justice in Canada.

The report showed a serious access to justice problem across the country and challenged the provinces to start putting the public first.

A year later, 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 in the spring of 2015.

The second phase of #TalkJustice builds on what the Society learned during the first round of public engagement. The project is now a joint initiative of the Society, the Executive Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary, the Nova Scotia Department of Justice and Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

#TalkJustice 2.0

In the spring of 2016, Nova Scotia’s Access to Justice Coordinating Committee (A2JCC) convened #TalkJustice 2.0, a new way to engage the public and collect data about people’s experiences with legal services and the provincial justice system.

The pilot project began in September with sharing circles at the Halifax Law Courts and the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre. The events were meant to collect material to build an online engagement tool, and to improve relationships and trust between those working in the justice system and communities.


The team is using SenseMaker® software to collect and analyze the stories. The software is designed to gather large numbers of stories and present them in a way that reveals patterns and relationships. Participants tell their stories in their own words and the software provides them with the tools necessary to explain their story’s meaning. This reduces the possibility of the researcher’s unconscious biases changing the context of a participant’s story.

Ultimately, what you’re left with is statistical data on people’s experiences. That data will be analyzed this summer and shared widely to help government and community organizations develop small-scale projects known as “safe-to-fail” experiments. These experiments will be designed to test possible solutions that if implemented, will ultimately improve access to justice.

How can I share my story?

Use the online engagement tool at TALKJUSTICE.CA >>
Download the free app for ANDROID >> or iPHONE >>
Request a paper copy by calling Jane Willwerth at 902-422-1491 or by email at jwillwerth@nsbs.org
Chief Justice Michael MacDonald and Minister of Justice Diana Whalen, co-chairs of Nova Scotia's Access to Justice Coordinating Committee, pose with members of the #TalkJustice team at the Halifax Law Courts.

Co-Chairs of Nova Scotia's Access to Justice Coordinating Committee (A2JCC)

“Too many people still view our legal system as
unfamiliar and intimidating. We must do better.
This is about putting the public first and improving
access to justice for all Nova Scotians.”

- The Honourable Michael MacDonald
Chief Justice of Nova Scotia

“We are committed to improving access to justice for all
Nova Scotians and your feedback is critical in our effort to
become a more people-centred, diverse and responsive justice system. We want to hear directly from Nova Scotians who
have experience with the justice system.”

- The Honourable Diana Whalen
Justice Minister and Attorney General of Nova Scotia


Nova Scotia's Access to Justice Coordinating Committee (A2JCC) is a group working to make Nova Scotia's family, civil and criminal courts more efficient, effective, less costly and easier to navigate for all citizens. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE A2JCC >>