Pam Hrick, award-winning law student
Pam Hrick (Law’13) first became engaged in feminist advocacy as an undergraduate student in political studies at the University of Ottawa. She was president of her student association when a female student came to the organization to share her experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the university community.
The student organization’s interaction with the woman spurred a campus-wide campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault. The campaign led to changes at the university, including more counselling and the creation of an advocate’s office to support students.
Now, at Queen’s, Ms Hrick is pushing forward with her work on feminist legal issues as she completes her law degree. She serves as vice-chair of the board for the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston and earlier this year, the Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies (DJLS) published a paper she wrote on the federal government’s creation of a conditional permanent resident status for sponsored spouses and partners, which she argues places sponsored immigrant women in danger. This paper received the John D. Stevenson Essay Prize, which is awarded annually for the best paper submitted for publication.
“I hope it raises people’s awareness of the vulnerability of sponsored immigrant women to abuse at the hands of their sponsors,” says Ms Hrick of her paper in DJLS. “I also hope it brings attention to and a foundation for analyzing the impact these new regulations will have.”
Ms Hrick’s paper outlines the problems with the amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, which the federal government claims it introduced to combat fraudulent marriages in Canada’s immigration system. The amendments, which came into force in October 2012, mean sponsored spouses or partners who have been in a relationship for two years or less, and who don’t have children together, must remain in a relationship with their sponsor for a period of two years after their sponsorship application is approved. Ms Hrick argues the changes force women with abusive partners to choose between staying in a violent relationship or risking deportation.
After graduation, Ms Hrick will clerk with Queen’s alumnus Justice David Stratas (LLB’84), a judge in the Federal Court of Appeal. A self-described political junkie, Ms Hrick has worked in provincial and federal politics and sees the importance in both government and legal structures. But, regardless of where she ends up down the road, Ms Hrick says equality issues will always play a big role in her life.
“Advocating for women’s equality and working to end violence against women are things I will always be involved with, whether as a volunteer or in a professional capacity,” she says.