Karen Pearlston Wins VIVE Award | Faculty News | Spring & Summer 2021 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | Faculty News | Spring 2020 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | UNB

Global Site Navigation (use tab and down arrow)

Faculty of Law
UNB Fredericton

Back to NEXUS Magazine

Karen Pearlston recognized for championing gender equality

Professor Karen Pearlston has been honoured with the inaugural Minister’s Award for Excellence in Championing Gender Equality, the VIVE Awards—Visionary, Inspirational, Vibrant, Empowered.

"I am honoured to have been nominated by my community and I accept this award in acknowledgement of the many activists who work to counter the harm done by governmental and social neglect of poor and marginalized people—who are disproportionately women—by advocating for protection from evictions, for paid sick days during the pandemic, and for a right to timely, responsive, and accessible mental health care—all of these are gendered issues.”

The VIVE awards were created to promote gender equality in all facets of society, recognizing and celebrating those who are forging paths and advancing gender equality. Prof. Pearlston was recognized with the Everyday Champion Award for her long history of social justice activism, countless volunteer hours working to advance women's equality, and her commitment to the fight for reproductive justice and abortion access in New Brunswick.

Prof. Pearlston, in collaboration with Reproductive Justice New Brunswick, coordinates reproductive justice activist and education campaigns, including online during COVID-19, and has been a strong advocate for the movement to save Clinic 554.

“I have been privileged to work with a great group of activists working towards the repeal of Reg 84-20 and to keep Clinic 554 open for the thousands of women, queer and trans people who need safe and appropriate health care.”

Prof. Pearlston has recently been elected a member of the Fredericton Pride Board, a non-profit that strives to promote inclusion and intersectionality in celebrating and advocating for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and communities. She also works with the Looking Out for Each Other (LOFEO) Project, an initiative developed through the New Brunswick Aboriginal People's Council. LOFEO assists the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

“I was honored to be asked to join the project. It was developed by a former colleague, Jula Hughes. When she left UNB Law to become Dean at Lakehead, I stepped up to provide research support for the family law aspects of the project, and to supervise research assistants—some of whom are UNB Law students.”

Prof. Pearlston has researched and written on the legal history of women, gender, and the family. More recently, she has published articles on lesbian legal history and is currently working on a historiographic assessment of that field. She was a member of the national organizing committee for the scholar/activist project Anti-69: Against the Mythologies of the 1969 Criminal Code Reforms and, as an outgrowth of that work, is preparing an article examining the relationship between queer activism and law reform.

“I was excited but not surprised to see Prof. Pearlston receive this award,” said third-year student Lori Wareham. “There's no one more deserving; it’s fitting that her hard work and activism be recognized at such a high level."

Wareham has taken several courses with Prof. Pearlston and was her research assistant in her final year of law school. The pair collaborated on several projects, including updating course materials for family law to reflect changes to the Divorce Act and improving delivery methods for virtual learning.

“What I really respect about Prof. Pearlston is she always makes her decisions in a student-centric way. Before we would brainstorm ideas for how to solve a conflict, she would immediately frame the question as a ‘what would be easiest for students’ or ‘what would cause students the least disturbance’ instead of what might be the simpler choice in the moment.” 

Prof. Pearlston’s commitment to promoting and protecting equality is evident in her research, teaching and community involvement. This award recognizes a life’s work devoted to anti-oppression and liberation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to add my voice to the unified voices of First Nations in New Brunswick,” said Pearlston, “who have called for an inquiry into systemic racism in the criminal justice system and I stand in solidarity with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) activists and communities, with reproductive justice, disability justice, anti-poverty, and queer and trans activists, all of whom devote countless unpaid hours in search of justice for their communities."

Continue reading this issue of NEXUS