Kim Pate was appointed to the Senate of Canada on November 10, 2016. First and foremost, the mother of Michael and Madison, she is also a nationally renowned advocate who has spent the last 40 years working in and around the legal and penal systems of Canada, with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized — particularly imprisoned youth, men and women. Senator Pate graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1984 with honours in the Clinical Law Programme. She was the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) from January 1992 until her appointment to the Senate in November 2016. She has developed and taught Prison Law, Human Rights and Social Justice and Defending Battered Women on Trial courses at the Faculties of Law at the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University and the University of Saskatchewan. She also occupied the Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 2014 and 2015. Kim Pate is widely credited as the driving force behind the Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, headed by Justice Louise Arbour. During the Inquiry, she supported women as they aired their experiences and was a critical resource and witness in the Inquiry itself. Senator Pate is a member of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Canadian Bar Association’s Bertha Wilson Touchstone Award, and six honourary doctorates (Law Society of Upper Canada, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, St. Thomas University, Wilfred Laurier University, and Nipissing University).
Despite a constitutionally enshrined Charter of Rights and Freedoms and priding ourselves on a stellar human rights record internationally, Canada has often followed the United States when it comes to criminal and penal legislation and policy. During the past decade, efforts to decolonize, decriminalize and decarcerate have paradoxically resulted in exponential increases in the criminalization and imprisonment of Indigenous Peoples, particularly Indigenous women. In this session, Senator of Canada Kim Pate presents a critical perspective on approaches to criminal and penal (in)justice, and their implications for equality and fairness in Canada and beyond. She also shares her experience with alternatives to incarceration, for and with Indigenous, poor, and otherwise marginalized women and youth. Seminar participants are encouraged to review and discuss these reports: