Sidney B. Linden Award
2020 Sidney B. Linden award goes to Danny Morton
The Sidney B. Linden Award for 2020 is awarded to Danny Morton, a lawyer with the Indigenous Justice Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG).
The Sidney B. Linden Award is given by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) to exceptional individuals who help low‑income Ontarians in the pursuit of access to justice.
Over the past 15 years, Danny Morton has worked in a variety of roles that have focused on improving the access that Ontario’s Indigenous, First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples have to justice.
In addition to his five years working at MAG’s Indigenous Justice Division, Danny has worked as policy counsel for LAO’s Aboriginal Justice Strategy. He was also a defence lawyer for nine years focused on representing Indigenous people in the GTA.
Among his accomplishments was the design and implementation of a province-wide Indigenous Bail Verification and Supervision Program, which provides culturally-relevant services that increase the likelihood of Indigenous people being granted bail. His recent work on the Indigenous Discharge Planning Program assists Indigenous people displaced from northern First Nation communities to return to their home communities.
“Danny Morton has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to improving access to justice for First Nation, Inuit and Métis people and has collaborated with Indigenous communities and organizations to support the development and implementation of programs specifically designed to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system,” stated Kirsten Manley‑Casimir, acting legal director of MAG’s Indigenous Justice Division, in her nomination.
She added, “At the outset of their careers, many lawyers aim to make a significant contribution to access to justice. Danny provides an inspiring example to other lawyers of how to do this both at an individual and systemic level.”
LAO chair, Charles Harnick, said, “Throughout his career, Danny Morton has focused on addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. The work Danny has done is deeply important and Legal Aid Ontario is pleased to honour his work in this way.”
Justice Jessica Wolfe of the Ontario Court of Justice also noted that, “There is no person more deserving than Danny Morton for the Sidney B. Linden award. Danny has fought tirelessly to amplify the voices of Indigenous communities who seek solutions to improve justice outcomes experienced by their members in conflict with the justice system. Danny does this work with deep humility, as he advocates for positive change and continues to play a critical role in many important justice initiatives.”
Danny will be virtually presented the award at the LAO board meeting on March 30, 2021, with a formal in‑person ceremony taking place when circumstances permit.
Legal Aid Ontario created the Sidney B. Linden Award to honour exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to helping low-income people, and have given their time and expertise towards ensuring access to justice in Ontario.
The award is named in honour of Justice Sidney B. Linden, Legal Aid Ontario’s first chair of the board of directors. Justice Linden has been involved with legal aid for over 35 years, and his distinguished professional career has been characterized by a genuine commitment to issues concerning access to justice.
Since its inception, the Sidney B. Linden Award has been presented to thirteen deserving recipients: Timothy Lutes, Mary Birdsell, Grace Pluchino, Ryan Peck, Bob Richardson, William A. (Bill) Sullivan, Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor, Peter G. Kirby, Michael Bossin, Barbara Jackman, J. Robert Kellermann, Paul Copeland and the late Dianne Martin.
The award statue
Toronto sculptor Siggy Puchta designed the Sidney B. Linden Award. The statue depicts the concept of access to justice through the upward and open gesture of ‘the lady of justice’ holding the scales of justice while at the same time welcoming those in need of legal aid services. Siggy’s design also captures the spirit of LAO’s logo.