Congratulations to the 2022 Distinguished Service Award Recipient Shawna Paris-Hoyte O.N.S., KC

We’re pleased to announce that Shawna Paris-Hoyte O.N.S., KC is the recipient of the Society’s 2022 Distinguished Service Award (DSA).

Established in 1999, the Distinguished Service Award is presented to a member who has made significant contributions to their community, the legal profession, and the Society.

Learn more about the Distinguished Service Award.

“As Chair of the Society’s Distinguished Service Award Committee, I am truly delighted to recognize Shawna Paris-Hoyte as this year’s recipient of the award.  Shawna’s nomination and letters of support spoke of her roles as mentor, educator, leader, volunteer, and trailblazer, working tirelessly for the marginalized and disenfranchised people of Nova Scotia.  She has devoted her legal practice to the betterment of all, focusing on social justice and access to justice. These roles were epitomized in her representation of a youth who challenged the voluntary nature of his statement to the police in a leading case on rights of young people, under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  The case resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada’s clarification of the test to be applied before statements made by youth to police are admissible in court.  This is but one of many examples of Shawn’s tireless efforts to enhance the administration of justice.  Shawna is indeed a most worthy recipient of this award.”

Marjorie Hickey KC, Chair of the DSA Committee and 2013 DSA recipient.

Congratulations, Shawna!

“It is an honour to receive the 2022 Distinguished Service Award from the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and to have my name added to the list of distinguished colleagues. I want to thank my nominator, members of the award committee and all those who have supported me and my work as a lawyer and public servant over the many years. To be considered someone worthy of such recognition is humbling to say the least. As the first Black lawyer/African Nova Scotian and person of color to receive this award, I am beyond words.

“I am grateful for the sacrifices of my children in supporting my career. I acknowledge my community, and my ancestors who guide my path, always. I believe that “to whom much is given-much is expected”. I will endeavor to live up to those words as I continue to set a path for others and remain steadfast in my work and commitment to bring integrated law and social work to a broader public forum in the name of social justice and access to justice. Thank you.”

–        Shawna Paris-Hoyte O.N.S., KC

The Society will be hosting the annual Recognition Reception on January 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to present this award and recognize our fifty-year practitioners. An invitation will be sent to membership in the coming weeks.

About Shawna Paris-Hoyte O.N.S., KC

Shawna Paris-Hoyte, formerly of Truro (the Hill), Nova Scotia, is a fifth generation Black Nova Scotian. She holds fours degrees from Dalhousie University (BA 78’ (TYP), JD 94’ (IB&M), BSW 01’, MSW 03’). She has certificates in Health Law Administration (Dal 14’), Advanced Mediation (’UPEI & AG 96’), Community Development (Henson College 96’) and Forensic Social Work (USA 19’). In 1994 Shawna articled with the firm of Cox Downie (as it was then). In 1995, Shawna commenced her legal practice as a community legal worker and in 1996 became a staff lawyer at the legal aid “clinic” where she continues to practice in the areas of youth justice, family law, administrative law, and child protection. Shawna’s practise as a lawyer has taken her to all levels of the courts and tribunals in Nova Scotia and Canada, including to the Supreme Court of Canada when she successfully argued R. v. LTH (08) under the YCJA. She has adjudicated matters under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act. Shawna recently concluded her work on the Mass Casualty Commission Public Inquiry as legal counsel for Be the Peace Institute a participant organization with the Gender Based Violence Coalition which also included Women’s Shelter Canada and the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia.

As a public servant and volunteer, Shawna’s commitment to community spans to almost five decades. She has dedicated 28 of those years to public legal education, Pro bono legal services and legal aid as a tool and means to provide access to justice for the marginalized and disenfranchised populations. She has contributed to the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society (NSBS) as a member of the Complaints Investigation Committee. She has contributed with written articles to the NSBS Society Record over the years, and she was involved in the NSBS moot court training for article clerks and was often called upon, throughout the years, to assist the NSBS in guiding/mentoring Black lawyers. By virtue of her role as a lawyer, she has received numerous federal and provincial appointments to Boards, Task Forces’ and Committees that serve all members of society.

Shawna has been involved in many exciting and innovative initiatives over the years which include (briefly) being a member of the nine person Federal Task Force in Canada to draft the foundational strategic hiring workplan for the Federal Public Service entitled, Embracing Change in The Federal Public Service (01). She is the past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Community Justice Society, she is a founding member of the Black Community Advocates Association of Nova Scotia (BCANS), she was the Project Manager for Conference 2000 (Halifax), which was the first conference held in NS to review the recommendations of the Donald Marshall Jr. Royal Commission Report. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Strongest Families Institute, and she is a commissioned Elder for the African Nova Scotian Community- Road to Prosperity initiative which focuses on building a sustainable future for African Nova Scotians.

As a legal educator, Shawna has been instructing, supervising, and mentoring law students and lawyers since 1995, and generalist forensic social work students since 2009. Shawna has taught at several universities in Canada specific to integrated law and social work practice, as well she taught courses regarding diversity in Canada, cross-cultural perspectives, human development, and field practice. As a regularly called upon public speaker, Shawna has recently been sharing her knowledge of trauma-informed practice for lawyers at national law conferences (CAUL) and at professional development meetings and retreats in Ontario.

As a trailblazer, Shawna is the Founding Director/Consultant of the National Institute of Forensic Social Work (NIFSW-2016), which has a membership spanning three continents and five countries. Shawna provides expert consultation to grassroots community organizations, NGOs, and to federal and provincial governments on a variety of integrated social/legal issues. She designs, develops, and implements course curriculums and training programs at the university level, as well as professional development courses for lawyers, social workers, social service workers locally, nationally, and internationally. In October 2022, Shawna facilitated an intensive forensic social work training program for various professionals working in the child welfare system in the Caribbean. She is also currently developing a trauma-informed training program for lawyers working with victims of sexual assault in Nova Scotia.

Shawna’s commitment to the legal profession and the Nova Scotian community has been significant for almost three decades. Her hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed. She is the recipient of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II -70th Anniversary Platinum Jubilee Medal (2022) for public service and volunteerism, the Order of Nova Scotia (2020) for her longstanding commitment to the betterment of life for all Nova Scotians, she received a distinguished Queens Counsel designation (2011) for her contributions to the legal profession, the Distinguished Service Award for Social Work (2016) from the Nova Scotia College Social Workers/Canadian Association Social Work or her commitment to social justice and social work practice, she was inducted in the Honourable Justice Bertha Wilson Society (2014), she received the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Service Recognition Award (2014), she is the Inaugural recipient of the Honourable Justice Lorne Clarke Award for Access to Justice (2010), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Law Students Association of Canada (2014), the National Black Law Student Association: People Making a Difference Award (2009), the Elizabeth Frye Society-Rebels with a Cause (2006), the Black Community Advocates Association of Nova Scotia-Recognition Award as Founding Member (2002), the Treasury Board of Canada-Embracing Change Task Force Contribution Award (2001) and numerous other recognitions for her work and dedication to her community and her professions.