Last April, Pamela Cross, our Legal Director, was awarded the J.A. (Alec) Corry Distinguished Alumni Award (for excelling in a career outside the traditional practice of law) from Queen’s Law. A virtual ceremony on May 20, 2021, celebrated this year’s Queen’s alumni award recipients with last year’s. Here’s Pam’s speech from the event:
I am deeply honoured to be receiving this award, and I want to say a special thank you to Pam Hrick, also a Queen’s Law grad, who nominated me for it.
When I started law school in my mid-30s, I had plans to practice law and save the world. So I did, for about four years. Well, I practiced law, but I did not save the world.
In fact, I quickly realized that the women I represented – most of them survivors of gender-based violence – were denied meaningful justice when they turned to legal systems.
So, I gave up any fantasies I may have had about appearing before the Supreme Court or perhaps becoming one of its justices and shifted my work to the systemic advocacy I’ve been engaged with ever since.
I have not once regretted that decision.
I use what I learned at law school and in my few years of practice in my work almost every day; work that can be intense, challenging, humbling, infuriating and discouraging. Always, it is interesting and inspiring; occasionally, it is funny.
I get to work with smart, passionate and committed women across the country; driven in our work by the courage of survivors of gender-based abuse.
Laws in this country offer women considerable formal equality, but much work remains to be done to ensure that all women can rely on substantive equality and live free from abuse of all forms.
I believe that the privilege I have enjoyed throughout my life carries with it a responsibility to challenge, push back and open doors to invite others in. The law has given me a way to try to do that.
Once again, thank you very much for honouring me with this award.