Provocation Ideas Festival presents Critical Conversations - Looking for a Familiar Face: The Justice System and Canadas Diverse Communities

Looking for a familiar face: The justice system and Canada’s diverse communities delves into the crucial intersection of representation, justice, and community. This critical conversation confronts pressing concerns related to the ramifications when the composition of our justice system fails to mirror the diverse tapestry of the communities it serves. Does this disconnect breed mistrust and hinder access to justice? The decision by Toronto Police to cease the collection of racial data also raises significant questions. What are the implications? How does it influence accountability, transparency, and the quest for equity within law enforcement? Join us as we navigate these complex issues and seek pathways toward a more inclusive and just system.


Christa Big Canoe is an Anishinabek woman, mother and lawyer. She is from Georgina Island First Nation. She has been the Legal Director of Aboriginal Legal Services since 2011. She took a 2.5 year leave of absence to be senior and then Lead Commission Counsel to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa has been before all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada; she represents families at Inquests; and has been before various tribunals providing Indigenous perspective and representation. She passionately advocates for Indigenous women and children in multiple forums and legal processes.

Dr. Julius Haag is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. His areas of interest include policing, youth justice, racialization, ethnicity and criminal justice policy. His research draws on urban sociology, critical race theory, and cultural criminology to explore the individual and community-level impacts of policing and criminalization on young people from racialized and marginalized backgrounds. In particular, his research focuses on the experiences of young people from the Afro-Caribbean community.

Keith Merith is the author of the recently published A Darker Shade of Blue: A Police Officer’s Memoir (ECW Press, 2024), a transparent first-hand account of a Black officer maneuvering through three terrifying yet rewarding decades of policing, all while seeking reform in law enforcement.

Kevin Donovan, Moderator, is the Toronto Star’s Chief Investigative Reporter. His focus is on journalism that exposes wrongdoing and effects change. Over more than three decades he has reported on the activities of charities, government, police, business among other institutions. Donovan also reported from the battlefields in the Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan following 9/11. He has won three National Newspaper Awards, two Governor General’s Michener Awards, the Canadian Journalism Foundation award and three Canadian Association of Journalists Awards. As the Star’s editor of investigations for many years, Donovan led many award-winning projects for the paper. He is the author of several books, including “Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation” and the “Dead Times” (a fiction novel).

Presented in partnership wth the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

Saturday, June 8 • 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Habourfont Centre

Lakeside Terrace

235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON

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