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Portrait of Professor Karen Busby

Professor Karen Busby to receive prestigious MBA Award

Isabel Ross (MacLean) Hunt Award given for contributions as excellent role model for women lawyers

January 11, 2023 — 

The Office of the Dean of Law extends congratulations to Professor Karen Busby, who was recognized by the Manitoba Bar Association as the 2022 recipient of the Isabel Ross (MacLean) Hunt Award for her contributions as an excellent role model for women lawyers in Manitoba. Professor Busby will be presented with the award on January 20th at the MBA’s 2023 Mid-Winter Conference Awards Luncheon.

Karen Busby has been with the Faculty since 1988, and she was the founding Director of the Centre for Human Rights Research. She has a J.D. (Manitoba, 1981) and LL.M. (Columbia, 1988). She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1982 and she practiced for a year with Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatman. After studying in France for a year, she was the first clerk with the Federal Court of Appeal (1984-87).

Professor Karen Busby’s research and teaching interests include gender-based violence (GBV), constitutional law, in particular human rights and equality law, civil procedure and administrative law. The GVB and equality law research is action-oriented, inter-disciplinary and collaborative; civil procedure research involves conventional legal scholarship (a fastidiously technical pursuit); and administrative law marries law and politics. Her research is also directed at diverse audiences including equality theorists (legal and non-legal); students in different disciplines (Law and Women’s Studies); practitioners; judges across Canada and the grassroots women’s movement.

In September, 2021, the Faculty of Law celebrated her more than 30 years of teaching at the University of Manitoba, and the legacy of her contributions to Human Rights research.

Isabel Ross (MacLean) Hunt (1894 – 1990) was the first woman to earn a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the University of Manitoba. She graduated in 1916, was called to the bar in 1917, and was the first woman in Western Canada to establish a law office in 1918. She temporarily withdrew from practice upon getting married, but returned after her husband’s death in 1923. In 1928, she joined the City of Winnipeg’s legal team, served as a solicitor in the department of welfare for 30 years, and was an expert in family law.

In 1952, she was the first woman to receive the Queen’s Counsel designation in the province of Manitoba. In 1983, she received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her role in improving the status of women in the legal field in Canada.  The Manitoba Bar Association created the Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt Award in 2011 to recognize role models for women lawyers deserving of special recognition.

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