Dr. Elaine Craig and Sunny Marriner Announced as the
2019 Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award Recipients

Award acknowledges the Tribute’s 25th Anniversary and the commitment
of women who protect the rights of survivors

Toronto: April 25, 2019 – The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is excited to announce Elaine Craig and Sunny Marriner as the 2019 Torys LLP Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award recipients.

To commemorate our 25th Anniversary and to recognize the national attention that gender-based violence has received over the past years, the Clinic’s Award Committee chose to present the Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award to these two remarkable women. Elaine and Sunny have dedicated their lives to improving access to justice for survivors of sexual assault. Both have played vital roles to shine a light on the experience of women who report sexual violence; and to correct systems that allow racism, misogyny, and sexist stereotypes to persist within the justice system. Sunny’s 20-year leadership in bringing out the issue of “unfounded” classifications of police investigations of sexual assault, and Elaine’s meticulous exposure of the failures of the legal system, represent the full range of advocacy required to make lasting change for generations to come.

“We are honoured to have two incredibly deserving candidates accept the Award this year,” says Deepa Mattoo, the Clinic’s Interim Executive Director. “Both Elaine and Sunny are exceptional women who are driven to expose and correct systemic failures in a process established to serve and protect survivors fairly and without bias.”

Elaine CraigElaine Craig is an Associate Professor of Law at Dalhousie University.  Through her impeccable research, advocacy and academic writing, including her most recent publication, Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession, she has redefined the ethical obligations of defence counsel in sexual assault trials. As well, Elaine successfully affected systemic change by initiating with three colleagues, the review that led to the public hearing and removal of former Justice Camp from the bench, followed by legislation to better educate judges on the pervasiveness of racist and sexist stereotypes in rape trials. Through her dedication and commitment, she has made a profound difference in the lives of women who are traumatized by sexual violence and later retraumatized by our legal system.  Through her research, she provides front-line advocates with concrete information that supports the women we serve.


Sunny MarrinerSunny Marriner’s career spans more than 20 years of leadership in law reform for criminal justice treatment of sexual assault.  Among her most significant accomplishments is the implementation of the Philadelphia Model of Violence Against Women (VAW) Advocate Case Review to ensure thorough police investigations and accountability,  for which Sunny is recognized as the Canadian expert. This model mandates feminist frontline advocates to review thoroughly and make recommendations on sexual assault and domestic violence investigations that fail to result in charges, including those that police have closed as “unfounded.” Her advocacy to mobilize frontline women’s groups, and to educate the police, government and broader community on the need for police accountability, was the subject of the Globe and Mail’s 2017 expose of “Unfounded” rape allegations by police.

“Torys LLP is honoured to have Elaine Craig and Sunny Marriner as this year’s recipients,” says Sarah Whitmore, Schlifer Clinic Board Member and Senior Associate at Torys LLP. “Their passion resonates with our mission as a law firm that is community-oriented and committed to effecting positive change. As advocates, we deeply admire Elaine’s rigorous approach to seeking justice and Sunny’s commitment to improving the quality of police investigations and insisting that expertise includes women on the frontline who are witness to gender-based violence.”

Elaine and Sunny will receive the Award on June 6, at the Annual Tribute, hosted by Blakes LLP, the largest fundraising event for the Barbra Schlifer Clinic.  The Annual Tribute will take place on Thursday, June 6 from 6:30 to 9 pm at Steam Whistle Brewing, located at 255 Bremer Blvd.  To purchase tickets, please call (416) 323-9149 or go to tribute



About Dr. Elaine Craig

Elaine is an associate professor at Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie.  She researches and teaches sexual assault law, constitutional law and feminist legal theory.  She is the author of Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession as well as Troubling Sex: Towards A Legal Theory of Sexual Integrity.  Her work strives to make the legal profession and the legal system more accountable for the harms it causes and more humane for sexual assault survivors.

About Sunny Marriner

Sunny Marriner has been working as an advocate, activist, trainer, frontline support worker, researcher, consultant, and community leader on issues relating to violence against women (VAW) in Canada for more than 20 years. As the founder of Ottawa’s first support and outreach program for young marginalized and criminalized survivors of sexual violence, Sunny has provided thousands of hours of support and advocacy to young women survivors of violence and state intervention. As Executive Director of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Sunny mobilized an organization providing support and advocacy to survivors of sexual violence, while advancing community development and education around issues relating to sexual violence, marginalization and women’s equality. Sunny’s focus has been law reform in criminal justice treatment of sexual assault. In particular, she is a Canadian expert in the implementation of the Philadelphia Model of VAW Advocate Case Review to ensure thorough police investigations and accountability in reported cases of violence against women.


About the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is a specialized clinic for women experiencing violence, established in the memory of Barbra Schlifer – an idealistic young lawyer whose life was cut short by violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario on April 11, 1980. In her memory, the Clinic is a multi-disciplinary, front-line service provider that assists more than 5,000 women a year to build lives free from violence through counselling, legal representation, and language interpretation. Since it was founded in 1985, the Clinic has assisted more than 70,000 women.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Elaine Craig or Sunny Marriner, please contact Pamela Rice, [email protected] or 416-323-9149 ext. 228