The Honourable Justice Nancy S. Kastner of the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton received the Ontario Justice Education Network’s (OJEN) Chief Justices’ Award at a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, November 17, 2021.
Presided over by Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve of the Ontario Court of Justice, Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz of the Superior Court of Justice, and Chief Justice George R. Strathy of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Justice Kastner was honoured for her leadership in advancing justice education in Peel Region.
The Chief Justices’ Award is an annual award that recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to promoting public understanding, education and dialogue in support of a responsive and inclusive justice system. Justice Kastner is the 16th recipient of the award.
Justice Kastner was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton in 1999, and has been actively advancing justice education in the region for over 20 years. She was instrumental in establishing several of the first justice education programs still offered to students in Peel. She took a leading role in developing the Peel Mock Trial Tournament in 2002 and continues to take an active role in organizing it each year. It is one of the most successful high school mock trial programs in the province, with approximately 20 schools competing annually.
In 2003 Nancy invited the former Ontario Premier (and long-time Brampton lawyer), the Honourable William G. Davis, to speak to students competing in the mock trial tournament. The following year, the family of Mr. Davis provided an annual award, the Davis Cup, for the top ranking team. Students continue to compete for the Davis Cup to this day.
In addition to the Mock Trial Tournament, Justice Kastner played a key role in establishing:
- The Courthouse Visit program, with judges assigned to speak to the visiting students
- The Classroom Visit program, with volunteer lawyers from the local bar speaking to classes
- The annual Mock Bail Tournament, involving Justices of the Peace and local police officers,
- The Adopt-a-School program, where law firms make lawyers available to schools as a resource,
- The Criminal Code Donation program, where judges donate old Criminal Codes Law classrooms
As a result of her dedicated efforts, thousands of young people have enjoyed enriching educational experiences through court visits, participating in mock trials or one of the many other programs that Justice Kastner helped to establish in the Peel region.