The B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers recently hosted a group of girls from Lakes District Secondary School in Burns Lake for a tour of the court and presentations on the justice system.
The event on Dec. 10 coincided with International Human Rights Day and the United Nation’s annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The group of 23 students from Grades 8 to 12 were selected from over 50 applicants to attend the Lady Justice Law Talk at the Supreme Court, explained trip organizer and law articling student Peggy Mills.
Several speakers gave presentations to the students including Madam Justice Mary Humphries of the B.C. Supreme Court, Judge Craig Sicotte of the Provincial Court, Justice of the Peace and judicial case manager Sharon MacGregor, Crown Prosecutor Nina Purewal and lawyer Megan Olson, founder of the newly opened Parents Legal Centre in Smithers.
The topics covered career opportunities for women in legal professions, how the justice system works and human rights and equality in Canada, among others.
“Opening an educational dialogue with young women about the justice system may be interpreted as a positive response from the local legal community to the ‘Justice for Jessica’ campaign, which has arisen and taken root in response to the growing number of murdered and missing women (many of whom were Indigenous) along Highway 16, the so-called ‘Highway of Tears,’ ” Mills explained.
The body of 18-year-old Jessica Patrick, a member of the Lake Babine First Nation, was found along a steep bank on Hudson Bay Mountain Road outside Smithers in September. Police and the Coroner’s Office have not confirmed any cause of death.
A criminal investigation into her death is ongoing.