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From the OJEN Blog

OJEN’s 20th Anniversary Volunteer Profile – Justice Patricia Hennessy

I have found that schools, classrooms and student activities are some of the best places to learn from and about other communities.”

The judiciary has played a vital role in the establishment and ongoing success of OJEN throughout our 20 year history.  Justice Patricia Hennessy of the Superior Court of Justice has championed justice education initiatives in Ontario’s Northeast Region during her time as chair of the local OJEN committee from its inception in 2002.  She is responsible for developing many innovative justice education programs in both Sudbury and Manitoulin Island, including a thriving annual mock trial tournament in Sudbury and responsive justice education programs on Manitoulin Island.  She has also taken steps to address the under-participation of French schools.

OJEN was pleased to support Justice Hennessy’s study leave, in which she researched and developed new approaches to justice education with Indigenous youth. Not only does Justice Hennessy strive to ensure young people have access to positive and meaningful first interactions with the justice system, she promotes to her fellow judges the value of engaging with students in the classroom.

I started going into classrooms in Sudbury over 15 years ago, then I switched my focus to Indigenous communities, setting up Mock Trials in classrooms, bringing students into the courtroom, and later adapting activities to offer all kinds of substantive legal exercises and career days. I learned more than I ever could have imagined.”

I have found that schools, classrooms and student activities are some of the best places to learn from and about other communities. The community classroom really can become our classroom for building cultural competence. If we go into communities as a learner, not a teacher, not the holder of all knowledge, the opportunities to learn are deep and rich.”

— From Justice Patricia Hennessy’s article in the January 2022 Ontario Superior Court Judges Association (OSCJA) Newsletter

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