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Getting Help

The BC Civil Liberties Association provides assistance to members of the public who are dealing with civil liberties issues.  Civil liberties issues often focus on the relationship between the government and citizens, although they can also involve private organizations.  Some examples of civil liberties issues that we might be able to assist with include those relating to police accountability, privacy violations, access to information requests, or free speech and freedom of expression.

The BCCLA receives well over 2000 calls each year from members of the public who request assistance.  While we do our best to do what we can to assist all callers, we are able to take an active advocacy role in only a small percentage of these cases.

We are most likely to get directly involved in cases that may involve changes to a law or a policy.  Concentrating our efforts on addressing laws or policies allows us to maximize the effects of our limited resources.  We take on cases that are likely to have an impact on people beyond the individual complainant.

Where considerable resources will be required to address the issue, we assess the likelihood of success of our efforts.  If we determine that our efforts are likely to involve many resources and are unlikely to be successful, we may not be able to pursue the complaint.

There are many incidents of unfairness and injustice that the BCCLA simply does not have the capacity or the expertise to handle.  If we cannot offer you assistance it does not mean that your complaint is without merit.

Please note that the BCCLA does not provide legal advice or legal assistance.  We also do not offer referrals to specific lawyers.

What we can do:

  • Assist individuals filing formal complaints with public bodies, such as privacy complaints and police complaints.
  • Provide resources to those filing Freedom of Information requests.
  • Provide contact information for other organizations that provide more specialized services, direct advocacy services, or low-cost or free legal assistance.
  • Provide individuals with general legal information (not legal advice) through our plain-language legal handbooks, such as The Arrest Handbook: A Guide to Your Rights.
  • Help individuals with formal written correspondence in their efforts to resolve their civil liberties concerns.

Self-help:

There is a great deal of information available on our website that individuals might find useful in dealing with civil liberties issues.  Browse our publications or to check out our self-help guide. Please note that some of the links and contact information on our self-help guide are out of date. It is always best to confirm contact information on the home page of the government body or organization whom you are trying to contact. We apologize for this inconvenience and are hoping to have the resources needed to update our self-help guide in the near future.

Contacting the caseworker:

The BCCLA has one caseworker, Alyssa Stryker.  She works Monday through Thursday.  There are four ways to contact her:

1. Email

 Email is the quickest and best way to make initial contact with the caseworker.  Many of the resources which we are able to provide are most easily sent in electronic form. Casework inquiries should be sent to alyssa@bccla.org.

2. Telephone

You can reach the caseworker by calling 604.630.9754 or toll free at 1.866.731.7507 ext. 208.

If she is not available to take your call you will get her voicemail.  Please leave a message with your name, phone number, and a brief description of why you are calling.  She will generally return your call within three business days, although occasionally it might take longer if call volumes are particularly high.

3. Mail

Inquiries through the mail should be addressed to:

Alyssa Stryker, Caseworker

BC Civil Liberties Association

900 Helmcken St, 2nd floor

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1B3

4. Fax

The BCCLA’s fax number is 604.687.3045.

Please mark all faxed materials “Attention: Alyssa Stryker”

A note on in-person appointments

While it is possible to make an appointment to meet with the caseworker in person, we request that you call or email ahead to make an appointment.  If you come to the office without an appointment, it is unlikely you will be able to meet with the caseworker right away.  Chances are you will need to make an appointment to come back later.

Handout + Tools for the Public:

HIV-Handbook-cover

HIV Testing Handbook: A Guide to Your Rights

This handbook covers some of the topics that you need to know to understand your rights in regards to HIV testing in a new environment where the push is for “routine testing”. It covers topics like informed consent, “non-nominal” (no … Read More

HIV-Pocketbook-cover

HIV Testing Pocketbook: A Guide to Your Rights

This pocketbook covers some of the topics that you need to know to understand your rights in regards to HIV testing in a new environment where the push is for “routine testing”. It covers topics like informed consent, “non-nominal” (no … Read More

20120917-How-to-Make-a-Police-Complaint 2012

Making a Complaint Against the Police

If you think that a police officer acted wrongly, you have the right to complain, whether or not you were personally affected the action. Find out when to complain, how to complain, and what to include by using our guide. … Read More

electronic-pocket

Electronic Devices Pocket Guide

The law around searches at the border was designed for a time when people could only bring a small amount of personal information with them, but seem out of date in a time when someone can bring every bit of … Read More

Arrest-pocketbook

The Arrest Pocketbook: A Guide to Your Rights

revised 2008. 20 pp. Available in: English Arabic Spanish The pocketbook is a mini-version of the handbook and explains in plain language the range of conduct citizens can expect from police in the lawful exercise of their duties.

Arrest

The Arrest Handbook: A Guide to Your Rights

This handbook explains in plain language the range of conduct citizens can expect from police in the lawful exercise of their duties. Revised 2008. 62 pp. Available in: Arabic English Spanish Vietnamese Contents: Introduction Chapter 1 - The Police and Arrest … Read More