The National Security Student Helpline (NatSecHelp) is a support service for students at the University of Toronto, co-sponsored by the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA), the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), and Dowtown Legal Services Clinic (DLS). The Hotline supports students who have been approached by an agent of a Canadian national security agency, such as Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for an informational interview unrelated to criminal investigations or prosecution. The service exists in response to a range of reports over a course of years that national security agents, most often employed by CSIS, approach university students at Canadian campuses for a broad ranging interview about the scope of student activity on campus and the possibilities of radicalization. As a civilian agency with a broad scope of authority, CSIS in particular presents a unique set of challenges to those deciding whether to voluntarily meet with a national security field agent. NatSecSSH’s focus on students is premised upon maximizing the education of students as civic participants in Canada’s democratic public sphere.
The Helpline’s mandate is narrow: to connect University of Toronto registered students approached by national security officials to volunteer lawyers who will provide limited legal consultation at no cost, or pro bono. The volunteer roster lawyers are all licensed by the Law Society of Ontario and insured for pro bono representation. Through this narrow mandate, NatSecSSH fulfills its educational mission in the safety of the lawyer-client relationship.
In addition to offering the lawyer referral service, the Helpline will offer annual trainings to educate our volunteer lawyers on the changing landscape of national security law. Check back for periodic updates on programming and events.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the Helpline’s service only for University of Toronto Students? Yes, only students currently registered at the University of Toronto can make use of this service.
- Is the Helpline only for Muslim students registered at the University of Toronto? No, the Hotline’s service is available to any currently registered University of Toronto student, regardless of race, gender, religious identity or ideological viewpoint.
- Can only UofT students who are also Canadian citizens use the Hotline’s services? No, University of Toronto students who are permanent residents or foreign nationals can also use the Hotline services. However, given complex issues that lie at the intersection of immigration law and national security law, the scope of service will differ.