Fergus (Chip) O’Connor Receives 2021 Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award


For Immediate Release 

Ottawa, December 8, 2021 – Today, Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator of Canada, announced that Fergus (Chip) O’Connor is the 2021 recipient of the Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award. 

“I am absolutely delighted to recognize Fergus (Chip) O’Connor as this year’s recipient of the Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award ,” said Dr. Zinger. “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 since 1975. He was a founding member of the Canadian Prison Law Association and served as Director of the Correctional Law Project (now Queen’s Prison Law Clinic) at Queen’s University. For more than four decades, Chip has been an active advocate for incarcerated persons. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada no fewer than twelve times, providing legal counsel in seminal prisoner human rights cases including: the right to vote; search and seizure; habeas corpus and detention within the penitentiary; right to apply to the Supreme Court; and, extension of the application of Gladue principles for Indigenous offenders. Chip also appeared before the Prison for Women Commission of Inquiry (1996), conducted by Madame Justice Louise Arbour.

Chip has lectured extensively on the rights of incarcerated persons and has published a textbook on the subject of prison law. Recognized for his advocacy for underprivileged persons in Ontario, Chip has demonstrated exceptional leadership, commitment and conviction. He is acknowledged among his peers as an elder statesman in the field of correctional law.

The Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award was established in honour of Mr. Ed McIsaac, who served as Executive Director of the Office of the Correctional Investigator for 18 years. Each recipient of the award receives a reproduction of a sculpture by Ms. Audrey Greyeyes, a Cree artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, entitled Medicine Man . The award symbolizes wisdom, clarity of thought and leadership. A virtual ceremony will take place this morning, hosted by the Office. Presented annually since 2009, there have been 12 other recipients of the award.

Details on nomination procedures for the Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award are available on the Office’s website at http://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/cnt/award-prix/nom-eng.aspx .

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Monette Maillet  
Executive Director  

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