Debra Parkes

B.A. (Trinity Western), LL.B. (UBC), LL.M. (Columbia)

Personal profile


Professor Parkes joined the Allard School of Law in July 2016. She was a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba from 2001 to 2016 where she served a term as Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) from 2013-2106. She has also been a visiting researcher at the University of Woollongong and the University of Sydney. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law from 2009-2013 and President of the Canadian Law & Society Association from 2007-2010.
Professor Parkes' scholarly work examines the challenges and possibilities of addressing societal injustices through rights claims, with a focus on the criminal justice, corrections, and workplace contexts. The lens she brings to this work is feminist, intersectional, and socio-legal. Professors Parkes takes a particular interest in the incarceration of women, the limits of prison reform, and the framing and adjudicating of prisoners’ rights claims.
With funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Professor Parkes has examined mechanisms for oversight and accountability of imprisonment in Canada and she is collaborating on a new SSHRC-funded research partnership to develop participatory-action research methods for prison research that bring academics, former prisoners, and community agencies together to systematically collect and document prisoner experiences. In 2015 she guest edited a special volume of the Canadian Journal of Human Rights on solitary confinement and human rights.
Before beginning her academic career, Professor Parkes worked as a law clerk to justices of the BC Supreme Court (1997-1998) and practiced with the litigation group at Gowlings LLP in Toronto (1998-2000). She maintains strong connections with the bench and bar, welcoming opportunities to present at judicial education conferences and at continuing professional development workshops for the practicing bar.
Professor Parkes supervises graduate students in the fields of sentencing, penal policy, and the criminalization of women.

Professional Affiliations

  • Centre for Feminist Legal Studies


  • Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Human Rights Law
  • Public Law and Legal Theory
  • Constitutional Law