In this virtual Facing Resistance Speaker Series we will discuss increasing diversity in the justice system.
When: April 27, 2021 from 12:30 - 2:00 pm EDT
Register for free: https://bit.ly/frss2021april
Level’s Facing Resistance Speaker Series offers a diverse virtual platform that not only increases knowledge about the justice system and critical thinking, but also enhances the cultural humility of Canada’s legal profession. In this Facing Resistance Speakers Series, we will discuss how we can increase diversity in the justice system.
Since the Liberal government overhauled the judicial appointments system in October 2016, Canada's judiciary is more diverse than it was before, with more women, visible minorities, LBGT and Indigenous people on the bench. However, despite the Liberal government's promise to increase diversity on the bench, change has been slow. Since 2016, only three percent of federal judicial appointments self-identified as Indigenous and eight per cent identified as visible minorities, according to the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.
A diverse bench means more judicial impartiality and public confidence in the administration of justice. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin spoke to the issue of judicial impartiality in her 2012 comment: “Understanding impartiality begins with the recognition that judges are human beings…They arrive at the bench shaped by their experiences and by the perspectives of the communities from which they come. As human beings, they cannot help but to bring these ‘leanings of the mind’ to the act of judging.”
We also have to go further and incorporate more diverse perspectives in law. In a CBC article about judicial diversity, Associate Dean of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, Beverly Jacobs, said merely appointing a more diverse bench won't be good enough if the laws themselves don't change. "It just means that it becomes a brown system with the same colonial laws so it's not going to work," Dr. Jacobs said. Dr. Jacobs advocates for a justice system that incorporates more Indigenous perspectives in law. She says that the existing system ignores the fact that Indigenous nations had their own laws prior to European contact.
Ish Aderonmu - Ten years ago Ish Aderonmu found himself on bail and awaiting trial for a drug trafficking charge. Today he’s paying that experience forward as an aspiring lawyer and criminal justice advocate. Ish spent more than 500 hours observing cases at the Superior Court of Justice from 2018 until its shutdown due to COVID-19. He sat through almost every case imaginable and soon enough, he became a regular at the courthouse. It was all in an effort to understand the Canadian justice system and see if a career in law was truly what he wanted to pursue. His experience in the criminal justice system has given Ish a front-row seat to the important role lawyers play in clients’ lives and the need to help young people navigate the criminal justice system. A former triple jump “star” from his youth, Ish was born in Nigeria, grew up in the United States and now calls Toronto home. Ish is currently pursuing a law degree at Ryerson University Law School.
Bhavan Sodhi – Legal Director at Innocence Canada (IC). IC is a non-governmental organization working to identify, advocate for, and exonerate individuals who have been convicted of a crime they did not commit. In her role as Legal Director, Ms. Sodhi and her team have successfully represented individuals in overturning their wrongful convictions. She also has general oversight of the organization’s national case load, which at this time strictly focuses on homicides, and leads IC’s legal team on law reform and policy initiatives. Before joining Innocence Canada, she was an Assistant Crown Attorney in Toronto and also has experience working as a criminal defence lawyer.
Margaret Froh - Metis lawyer and educator, and President of the Metis Nation of Ontario.
Partnership with Cheekbone Beauty
As part of our promotion for this event, we are running a campaign in collaboration with Cheekbone Beauty, the first Indigenous owned and operated beauty brand and innovation lab. Donate to Level's Indigenous Youth Outreach Program and enter a chance to win a $100 gift card to Cheekbone Beauty. We will have two winners for this promotion!
Click here to view the campaign and donate!
Thank you to our event sponsors: Torys LLP, Krista Hill and Linda Plumpton, McMillan LLP, Mccarthy Tetrault, WeirFoulds LLP, Cheekbone Beauty