Satinder Virdi, executive director of the Society of Friends of St. Ann’s Academy will join Eva Silden, a criminal justice instructor at Camosun College for a panel discussion titled Professional Women and the Justice System, part of an ongoing conversation series on gender justice and leadership. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Gender and the Canadian justice system topic of Victoria discussion

Ongoing conversation series takes a look at gender justice and leadership

An Oct. 25 panel discussion exploring professional women in the justice system will look at aspects of the Canadian justice system from the perspective of those working inside it.

Part two of a six-part conversation series exploring gender and leadership will bring together VicPD Sgt. Shannon Perkins, Crown counsel Paula Donnachie, Treena Smith, a parole supervisor with Correctional Services Canada and Holly Craig, a probation officer.

Satinder Virdi, executive director of the Society of Friends of St. Ann’s Academy, says after hosting a women and leadership conference in October of 2016, the society was left with a resounding need “to carry on the conversations” they had opened around gender justice.

“There’s still a lot of that sort of old-school thinking at play in different workplaces,” Virdi says, which is important to address. She’s encountered situations with people, often men, who think society has moved past the limitations that give way to gender disparity. “But people that are [working] in the system, they don’t feel the same, regardless of the profession you’re looking at.”

The informal structure of the discussion is to encourage a personal element from the panelists, to speak truth to the powers that be. Much of the structure of the justice system was built by and for men, says Eva Silden, chair of the panel and criminal justice instructor at Camosun College.

“I think it’s so important to keep having these conversations,” she explains. “Women are a unique population, so we do need to do things differently. I think there is a lot yet to learn, and a lot to change, both for women who are experiencing the system and for women who work in the system.”

While the focus remains on females, Virdi points out that opening these dialogues aims to ensure social justice for all genders. The pair encourages audience participation; they’ve created this space for the community to come together and speak up, asking questions they need answers to, in what Silden hopes will be an “exploration.”

“We can’t be silent,” she says. “The minute we become silent, becomes very dangerous.”

To register to attend the panel discussion, email Virdi at sfsaa.vic@gmail.com or call Darlene Clover, 250-721-7816 or Lynne Milnes, 250-472-5031. The event runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Darlene Clover, 250-721-7816 or Lynne Milnes, 250-472-5031.

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