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A new legal information project aims to help low-income parents manoeuvre through complex legal questions

By Eula Mengullo, October 24 2023—

Partnered with the Mamas for Mamas Organization and the Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), the new Mamas for Mamas Legal Information Project streamlines legal information for single parents who are navigating the legal system. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Christy Catalano, a second-year law student and project lead for the new pro bono project, elaborates on the new initiative.

“The Mamas for Mamas Project focuses on mothers and families that are facing poverty and need access to legal information but don’t necessarily have anywhere to turn to for it,” said Catalano.

In its pilot year, the project focuses on questions surrounding parenting and decision-making, child support and family safety and well-being. Catalano remarked that as the project progresses, they also aim to eventually expand the questions that the information project provides answers for. 

“The basis of the project is to formulate vetted legal resources for this community so when people are in the discussion groups that the Mamas for Mamas Organization has, there can be something to point them towards,” she added.

Although the Mamas for Mamas Organization has their own discussion groups — including on Facebook — where mothers could ask legal questions, Catalano acknowledged that the answers or advice on these platforms are not always legally accurate or correct, hence she found the need to create an online resource that could provide such information.

“So the idea is just to provide these vetted legal resources to a group that otherwise would struggle to access them,” she said.

The online resources will be available to access through the Mamas for Mamas Organization Facebook group and their company website. The project will include brochures and infographics to ensure information is accessible to anyone on computers and mobile devices.

Additionally, the project is also supervised by a lawyer who will be vetting the resources created by law students to ensure their accuracy and legality. 

Inspired by her experience working on the Trellis project with the PBSC and as a single mother herself, Catalano remarked on the unique challenges that mothers — and specifically single mothers — face in navigating the convoluted legal process. 

“I’ve been through the legal system on that side and I’ve also been in these groups like the Mamas for Mamas Facebook group asking for advice, and not knowing where to turn to get the most accurate advice, so that’s why I have this personal connection to the project,” said Catalano. 

“I’ve been on the other side looking for these resources and not really sure where to find them,” she added.

Going forward, Catalano hopes to tackle more legal questions delving into other topics such as landlord-tenant issues. Furthermore, they would also like to expand free legal services to help single or low-income parents prepare wills, as well as host legal educational sessions and workshops for the community.

“There’s a lot of promise for the project in the future and we hope after the pilot year it’s going to continue and evolve,” said Catalano.

Since the Mamas for Mamas Organization and the Pro Bono Students Canada are both national organizations, Catalano also hopes the project will expand into the organizations’ other sectors located in other provinces.

“So we’re hoping to just keep expanding and ultimately solve the problem of there not being accessible resources available that are vetted and easily digestible for an audience that’s potentially in a panic or stressful situations when they’re seeking them,” she said. 

For more information about the Mamas for Mamas Legal Information Project, visit the U of C website.

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