The annual Ontario Public Service (OPS) Breakfast presented by York University’s School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) on Oct. 4 focused on Indigenous justice with a special talk by guest speaker Kate Forget, legal counsel, Indigenous Justice Division (IJD) at Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
The event attracted close to 100 people, hosting a number of faculty, students, invited guests, and alumni in-person at a downtown location.
Forget delivered a keynote speech titled “Advancing Indigenous Justice” and shared her experience and work on both MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) and inquiries into racism and policing in northern Ontario, as well as discussing the real and lived consequences of colonialism on organizations and individuals.
Forget is a member of Matachewan First Nation and grew up in New Liskeard, Ontario. In 2016, she joined the Indigenous Justice Division (IJD) to be on the MMIWG team and represent Ontario at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. During this period, Forget was also seconded to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director’s systemic review of the Thunder Bay Police Service. She currently acts as coroner’s counsel on inquests involving in-custody deaths of Indigenous persons for the Office of the Chief Coroner. Before joining IJD, she worked as duty counsel in London, Ontario. She was also a Gladue caseworker at Aboriginal Legal Services prior to and throughout law school.
Forget was introduced by Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Dean J.J. McMurtry, with special remarks by Professor Ruth Green, special advisor to the dean on Indigenous issues at the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).
SPPA students, faculty and guests had the opportunity to engage with Forget and Green during a Q-and-A session, moderated by Naomi Couto, graduate program director for the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program. The closing remarks were led by Professor Alena Kimakova, School of Public Policy and Administration director. The event wrapped up with a professional networking opportunity for in-person and online participants to encourage faculty and students to broaden their network of contacts within and outside of the OPS.
The annual event provides an opportunity to initiate discussions between academia and practitioners in an informal setting.