Access to Justice
#TalkJustice: Have you shared a story yet?

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The Courts of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, the Department of Justice, Nova Scotia Legal Aid and the Schulich School of Law are working together on a new approach to public engagement. It’s called #TalkJustice.

The Society initially launched the project in 2014 as a public conversation on what justice means to different people, and how individuals in marginalized communities access legal services and the justice system.

This second phase focuses on gathering people’s experiences with legal services and the justice system. We want people from across the province – and from inside and outside ‘the system’ – to share their stories using the online tool at

“Too many people still view our legal system as unfamiliar and intimidating. We must do better,” said the Honourable Michael MacDonald, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, in a public announcement on February 23. “This is about putting the public first and improving access to justice for all Nova Scotians.”


The tool was developed using research software called SenseMaker® and information gathered during sharing circles last September. Until now, there has been no effective way to measure the complexity of people’s experiences with the justice system. This tool will change that. Basically, the information people 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 that 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.

“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,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Diana Whalen, who along with Chief Justice MacDonald is Co-Chair of the Access to Justice Coordinating Committee (A2JCC). “We want to hear directly from Nova Scotians who have experience with the justice system.”

People can share their stories using the online tool at There is a free app that can be downloaded for Android and iPhone, and paper copies of the questionnaire are also available by calling Jane Willwerth at the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society at 902-422-1491 or by email at

Participants are encouraged to share regularly and at no time will they be asked for their name or other identifying information.

The Society first launched #TalkJustice in 2014 as a community engagement campaign. 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. These groups are all represented on the Access to Justice Coordinating Committee (A2JCC), 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.

For more information on #TalkJustice and the SenseMaker® project, visit