On December 8, 2021 our own Fergus (Chip) O’Connor was honoured with the Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award. The award was established in honour of Mr. Ed McIsaac, who served as Executive Director of the Office of the Correctional Investigator for 18 years, and recognizes the work and dedication of those who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving Canadian corrections and protecting the human rights of the incarcerated.
The announcement was made by Dr. Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, who said: “Chip is a legend in Canadian correctional law circles. He has been involved in some of the leading prison law cases in this country. Today, Chip is being recognized for his impassioned and long-standing advocacy as a champion for access to justice and defender of prisoner rights.”
Chip has practiced law in Kingston, Ontario since 1975. He was a founding member of the Canadian Prison Law Association and served as Director of the Correctional Law Project, now the Queen’s University Prison Law Clinic. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada a dozen times, arguing cases respecting the right to vote; search and seizure; habeas corpus and detention within the penitentiary; the right to apply to the Supreme Court; and extension of the application of Gladue principles for Indigenous offenders. In 1996 Chip also appeared before the Prison for Women Commission of Inquiry conducted by Madame Justice Louise Arbour.
Congratulations again, Chip, and thanks for blazing the trail for the rest of us!