Fareeda Adam is a panelist at the upcoming Equal Are We conference. She is a practising lawyer in Toronto with Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC). Fareeda has her BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies, with a minor in Indigenous Studies from McMaster University, and has her law degree from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Since beginning her legal career, Fareeda has learned of the importance of naming anti-Black racism and using a critical-race lens to understand the interactions Black people have with the legal system. Fareeda is proud to be part of the BLAC team and to embark on the journey of meaningfully engaging and challenging the legal system on behalf of her community. We are thrilled to have Fareeda joining us on October 22! Read our interview with her below.
If you had to explain what you do to a five-year-old, what would you say? I am a human rights lawyer. That means I fight with people who treat people differently and badly based on who they are.
Can you recommend a book that changed the way you think? How? Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.
I have been always interested in the histories and narratives of black Canadians. How did ‘we’ get here and what are the ways in which that history is understood.
This book changed the way I think, because it led me to questions like, what does it mean to be black? What does it mean to be Canadian? What are the racial ‘truths’ in Canadian history? What about the other diverse communities that are implicated within Canadian history? This book helped me understand that to recognize black Canadian history, I had to locate Canada within a complex network of racism, oppression and violence.
In your opinion, what organization or individual should we follow on social media? Shaun King – Journalist
Favorite quote or motivational saying? “I’m rooting for everybody Black.” Issa Rae
What’s next in your work? The Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC), will be intervening in a case, R. v. Morris at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The case is about a young man, Mr. Kevin Morris, who on June 28, 2017, was convicted of three offences: possession of an unauthorized firearm, possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition, and carrying a concealed weapon.
Mr. Morris was sentenced to 15 months’ incarceration, less three months for Charter violations and an 18-month probation order by the Honourable Mr. Justice Nakatsuru of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
In sentencing Mr. Morris, Justice Nakatsuru considered a number of factors related to his race. They included the existence of anti-Black racism in society at large and in the criminal justice system. Justice Nakatsuru also considered the impact anti-Black racism may have had on the choices available to Mr. Morris and how a lack of choices and opportunities may have contributed to him being before the criminal justice system.
The Crown appealed the sentence on the basis that the sentencing judge erred in his consideration of how race factored into the sentencing analysis and the ultimate sentence imposed. Broadly speaking, the Crown alleges that the trial judge erred on his “overwhelming focus on systemic racism” resulting in a manifestly unfit sentence.
BLAC will argue that pursuant to the fundamental principles of sentencing, a sentencing judge must examine the systemic and individualized factors that reasonably arise for a Black offender and specifically how anti-Black racism can affect, but not eliminate their individual choices. BLAC will propose an analytical framework for sentencing judges to apply when sentencing a Black offender. The proposed framework will take into account the existence of anti-Black racism and how it manifests in the Canadian context.
Want to hear more from Fareeda? Join us October 22 at Conestoga College, Cambridge campus! This conference is jointly hosted by YWCA Cambridge, the City of Cambridge and Conestoga College. Find out more here.