Chair’s Report for 2014-2015

Posted on Friday, December 18, 2015


The Gift Agreement established the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law in 2005 provides as follows:

The ‘Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession’ is designed to strengthen University of Ottawa teaching, research and administration as they relate to feminist perspectives on law.  It is also designed to maintain and develop links between women in the legal academy and women in the legal profession.

The Chair builds upon the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section’s international reputation as a leader in the field of social justice initiatives by engaging both internal and external communities in feminist legal research, curriculum development, mentoring and a variety of lectures and colloquia.

The holder of the ‘Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession’ works with an existing group of scholars, all committed to women’s equality through law, to encourage women to enter the profession, to train legal professionals to deliver services to women, to connect women in law school with women in the legal profession, and to further law reform and research impacting on women as clients and women in the profession.

As ongoing Chair, I acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary gift that Shirley Greenberg has made to the Faculty of Law and the broader community of women in the legal profession. Shirley’s gift has allowed us to undertake research, education, training and support for women students and faculty and to help build and maintain feminist community. Her gift in turn contributes to the enrichment of the legal profession and the public good. Hopefully this report on the Chair’s activities for the past year will give a flavour of the wonderful experiences and opportunities this generous gift makes possible.

Annual Activities of the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair in 2014-2015

Several new initiatives were added this year to the Greenberg Chair activities: a Feminist Welcome Party, aimed at bringing together and supporting feminist-identified students; a Shirley Greenberg Graduate Studies Bursary to assist an LLM or LLD candidate in pursuing feminist legal studies at the graduate level; a third feminist legal internship, this one at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic in Toronto; and two consultations with delegations from Sweden and Zambia on rape law reform and gender-based violence, respectively.

A.    Feminist Welcome Party

In September 2014 the Chair hosted a Feminist Welcome party for new and returning law students, staff and faculty. Approximately 15 faculty and staff were joined by 25 women students for a late afternoon meet and greet. We expect the Fall 2015 event will be even bigger.

B.    Shirley E. Greenberg Lecture Series

The 2014-15 Greenberg Lecture Series successfully drew audiences of students, professors, staff and members of the general public to hear critical and engaging speakers discuss their research and advocacy. At each talk a light lunch was provided to all. Speakers generally presented for 45 minutes, allowing ample time for questions and interaction with members of the law school’s feminist teaching faculty, and the broader feminist community. 

This year, the Greenberg Lecture Series included the following events:

1.      September 17, 2014

 Le Groupe de travail sur le respect et l’égalité de l’Université : le chemin à suivre / The University Task Force on Respect and Equality: The Road Ahead

With Task Force Members Elizabeth Sheehy, Michael Orsini, Simon Lapierre and Pam Hrick

2.      October 15, 2014

“Surveillance and Self: Young Women’s Experiences with Online Social Media”

Professors Jane Bailey & Valerie Steeves

3.      October 20, 2014

Launch of the Alison Dewar Scholarship in Women’s Equality, Labour and Human Rights Law

National Association of Women and the Law/Association Nationale Femmes et Droit

With Elizabeth Sheehy, Julie Shugarman, Andy Raven, Andreé Côté, and Karin Galldin

4.      November 19, 2014

“Diversité et la nomination à la magistrature: qui, quand, pouquoi et comment?/ Diversity and Judicial Appointments: Who, When, Why and How?”

Professor Rosemary Cairns Way, Arleen Huggins, (Partner Koskie Minsky and President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers) and Tamara Thermitus (Counsel, Department of Justice Canada)

5.      February 19, 2015

“Why Entrepreneurial Thinking is For Everyone” “L’esprit d’entreprise, c’est pour tout le monde !”

“Strategy is nothing without taking thoughtful risks. As law students continue to push themselves to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market, they’re looking for new ways to communicate who they are and how they can make a difference. Join Bedrock’s founder and University of Ottawa Faculty of Law alumna, Leila Banijamali, for a discussion about treating your career like a startup by fostering your curiosity, increasing your tolerance for risk, and thoughtfully executing in order to create meaningful opportunities for yourself.’

Leila Banijamali, LLB (U Ottawa 2004), LLM (IP) (Golden Gate 2005)

She is a Startup Attorney in San Francisco. By 24 she had launched her first of three successful tech startups, Musiclick, a royalty-free audio download site. Now, at 34, she is the founder and principal attorney at Bedrock, a San Francisco-based law firm that is passionate about helping innovative companies to launch and grow. Aside from working on her own startup ventures, Banijamali has counseled and helped launch hundreds of other tech startups within the last three years and has led negotiations for numerous young startups with Facebook, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Time Warner, Disney, Clorox, LinkedIn, Groupon, and Living Social.

6.      February 24, 2015

“Law’s Role in Canada’s Disgrace: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”

Dr Pamela Palmater

7.      March 25, 2015

“Where Have All the Women Gone? The Mail Order Bride Industry”

Cecilia Diocson, directrice de la National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada

8.      March 26, 2015

“The Hunting Ground”

Ottawa’s Premier Screening of the Film and Discussion: La Violence Sexuelle sur le Campus/Sexual Violence on Campus

With Professor Elizabeth Sheehy and Julie Lalonde


C.    Greenberg Internships: Fostering Feminist Lawyering

Two local internships to support the development of feminist lawyers were continued this year, and a third feminist internship was added for the benefit of our Toronto students. Sunny Marriner, ED of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Leighann Burns, family lawyer and head of Harmony House, a second stage housing in Ottawa for abused women, and Marilou McPhedran, legal director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, which offers legal counselling and interpretive services to women who have experienced violence, devised and supervised internships that would further their community-based advocacy work for survivors of sexual assault and wife assault and provide legal training and experience for feminist law students.

Harmony House: Sidra Naseem

On June 8, 2015, I started my ten-week Directed Public Interest Fellowship at the Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDVC) at the 311 Jarvis Courthouse. The IDVC court is unique because it is a pilot project and is one of its kind in Toronto. Leighann Burns, the Director of Harmony House, was my supervising lawyer on this project. The nature of my work was to read through Family Law case files heard by the IDVC in order to analyze and record how domestic violence charges were accounted for in these family law cases. I also attended the  IDVC sittings bi-weekly where I heard the criminal trials as well as the family case conferences and some settlement conferences.

The files I read, as well as the criminal matters I heard, allowed me to scrutinize the way the court and the Crown dealt with domestic violence charges. Firstly, most of these charges ranged from assault, assault with bodily harm, threatening bodily harm, threat with a weapon, failure to comply with a peace bond, and/ or uttering death threats. Secondly, the crown often withdrew the charges stating that there was no reasonable chance of conviction or the Applicant withdrew the charges. Additionally, when the accused was found guilty, the judge frequently issued them a peace bond. In the cases that I read and the criminal trials I attended, the accused was not given any jail time.

Although the IDVC hears both the domestic criminal charge as well as the family matters relating to custody, access, and support issues, it focuses most significantly on the family matters.

The great deal of experience that I gained from this fellowship and the lessons I learned will certainly follow me into my legal practice in the future. Being a woman, with a background from a vulnerable society in which violence against women is extremely prevalent, the cases I read about and actually witnessed at court sittings made the literature I read on domestic violence tangible. I saw the fear, insecurities, and trouble women face when subjected to domestic violence. Coupled that with custody and access issues regarding their children, the stress and pressure they must have faced was almost unimaginable. When women are faced with violence, children are also significantly impacted. I learned that eradicating violence from a household would not only save women, but will also save their children ahead.

Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre:Tharmini Kuhathasan

During the summer of 2015, a University of Ottawa law student was provided a Greenberg fellowship to support the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC) in its role on the Advisory Group to Ottawa Police Chief on Violence Against Women (VAW-OPS Advisory Group). The objectives of the VAW-OPS Advisory Group are to examine and improve the police response to violent crimes against women in Ottawa. The VAW-OPS Advisory Group is comprised of representatives of various community-based organizations leading the campaign to eliminate violence against women, as well as high-ranking officials from Ottawa Police Service (OPS). Members of the VAW-OPS Advisory Group form three sub-committees – the Research, Response and Prevention Sub-committees – that undertake projects in their respective focus areas.

The Greenberg Fellow contributed specifically to the work of the Response Sub-committee. The fellow’s main task was to research and compare legislation pertaining to privacy legislation, and policing standards, and best practices in implementing civilian-oversight-styled models in order to assist the Response Subcommittee in developing pilot models in Ottawa.

Beneficiaries:This fellowship had both direct and indirect beneficiaries.

Direct Beneficiaries:

  • Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre
  • Ottawa Police Service
  • New Directions
  • Harmony House Women’s Shelter
  • University of Ottawa
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa
  • Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women
  • Other VAW-OPS Advisory Committee members & agencies

Indirect Beneficiaries:

  • Girls and women in Ottawa attempting to report Violence Against Women (physical/sexual) to Ottawa Police Service (past/future)
  • Women-serving agencies in the Violence Against Women sector
  • Scholars and interested parties analyzing privacy legislation and transparency.

Contribution to the ORCC: The Shirley Greenberg Fellowship allowed ORCC to participate in the work of the Response Subcommittee of the OPS-VAW Advisory Committee work on a level the organization would not otherwise have reached. Through the efforts and acumen of the Fellow our organization was able to liaise with other uOttawa scholars to tackle difficult privacy barriers and complex legislative arguments to advance the committee’s work. Through the Fellowship our organization enjoyed greater capacity to offer critical analysis to research and methodological questions to ensure that survivors’ experiences of policing form a foundational component of future police planning, as per the stated priorities of the OPS.

Contribution to the Student:

The Fellowship allowed me to play a significant role in the development of an innovative pilot project aimed at improving police response to reports of crimes against women. I was primarily responsible for providing research support and assistance. I critically analyzed sexual assault law, police responses to women who report sexual violence, and projects designed and implemented by VAW agencies in Canada and the United States. I was exposed to the legal and procedural challenges involved in developing collaborative community models between police services and women’s frontline agencies and I worked with VAW activists and academics to develop strategies to advance the project.

I hope to continue to support the VAW-OPS Advisory Group as a volunteer for the ORCC during the 2015-2016 academic year. I look forward to interacting and learning from ORCC staff and other VAW agencies and academics. 

The Fellowship empowers feminist law students by creating opportunities for us to gain the invaluable practical experience necessary to pursue legal careers whereby we may continue to work to create a safer and more equitable community. I am immensely grateful to the Shirley Greenberg Fellowship and the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre for this invaluable experience.

Barbra Schlifer Clinic:Savannah Gentile

Through my fellowship with the Schlifer Clinic, I was given the opportunity to explore my interest in family law.  Specifically, I was tasked with researching the intersection of domestic violence and child custody and access disputes. I began my research by familiarizing myself with custody and access disputes generally. My first interview with a staff lawyer provided useful insight into the procedural side of these legal disputes and set the background for my research.

The research I conducted was two-fold, focusing on caselaw and domestic violence literature. Interviews conducted with staff lawyers and case support workers highlighted some persistent concerns with domestic violence custody and access decision-making. Many of these concerns were also identified by the literature.

The end goal of this research was to create a consultation paper that addresses the relevance of domestic violence to parenting. The paper emphasizes the need to prioritize the safety and well-being of victim parents and their children when creating parenting plans.

During my time at the Clinic, I was also fortunate to sit in on client interviews and family law cases at the local courts. Overall, the experience I gained through this fellowship was invaluable to my development as a law student and future lawyer.

Nilufa Husein, Staff Family Lawyer reports:

At all times, Savannah was engaged, committed and worked very well both independently as well as connecting with staff, including law and Articling students at the Clinic.  She is an extremely diligent and professional student.  In addition to her extensive research and organization of the paper, she also managed to research cases when asked as updates to ensure the best and most recent cases, articles and examples were included in her paper. 

I would highly recommend Savannah to any prospective employer in the future and wish her all the best in her legal career. We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity under the Fellowship to have someone like Savannah assist us this summer.  

D. LEAF Ottawa Persons' Day Breakfast

The Greenberg Chair made a substantial contribution to the Ottawa chapter of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) for its annual “Person’s Day” breakfast. Ottawa's 2014 Persons Day Breakfast marked the 85th anniversary of the famous Edwards v Canada case. It was held Monday, November 10, 2014 at the Lord Elgin Hotel, Pearsons Room from 7:30 am to 9:30 am.

This year the keynote speaker was Dr. Cindy Blackstock. Dr. Blackstock is a sought after public speaker and a member of the Gitksan First Nation. She has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and indigenous children’s rights. As Director of the First Nations Children’s Action Research and Education Service (FNCARES) at the University of Alberta, her research interests are indigenous theory and the identification and remediation of structural inequalities affecting First Nations children, youth and families.  Her promotion of culturally based and evidence informed solutions, has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders and many others. 

Dr Blackstock was joined by BLG lawyer, Qajaq Robinson. Ms. Robinson’s practice focuses on Treaty Land Claims Interpretation; the duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal rights and title; governance; and business development. She is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Akitsiraq Law School and clerked with the judges of the Nunavut Court of Justice, under Chief Justice Beverly Browne. 

In addition to supporting the event, the Greenberg Chair purchased tickets to enable three first year students—Vanja Predovic, Harpreet Ahuja and Emily Kostandoff to attend the event.

E. Women and the Legal Profession Course

The Greenberg Chair taught the ‘Law and Society: Defending Battered Women on Trial’ course (CML 3144J) in the January 2015 term to 21 law students. The course, designed by Professors Elizabeth Sheehy and Kim Pate, is aimed at preparing future lawyers to defend battered women caught up in the criminal justice system and at developing a package of materials to aid defence lawyers charged with this important task.

F. First Year Common Law Jane Doe Lecture

In 1998, more than a decade ago, the woman know as ‘Jane Doe’ won a landmark legal victory, holding the Toronto Police Service liable for the violation of her constitutional right to equality and for the failure to warn her of the threat of a serial rapist. Presented by Jane Doe herself, the annual Jane Doe lecture focuses on the sex equality related tort and criminal law issues raised in the Jane Doe case.

Again this year, on October 25 2014, the Greenberg Chair sponsored Jane Doe’s annual lecture for all First year and National Program students. Her talk, “The Politics of Rape”, filled all three rooms of the Gowling Moot Court to capacity and, as always, garnered a standing ovation from the students. This annual lecture provides an excellent opportunity for Torts and Criminal Law professors to integrate a significant feminist issue into their courses and for students to embark upon difficult but important conversations about sexual assault and law’s response.

G. Greenberg Graduate Bursary for Feminist Research

This one-year scholarship, valued at $10,000, will be offered to an outstanding LLM or LLD candidate who is pursuing graduate studies in law with a focus on feminist analysis of law and/or advancing women's equality. The recipient will be selected by the Shirley Greenberg Chair in Women and the Legal Profession in consultation with the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies in Law.

Sharmila Mahamuni received the bursary this year. She is a PhD. candidate whose doctoral work critically evaluates jurisdictional uncertainty regarding transnational corporate crimes at the domestic and international levels.  Her research moves beyond a business law and human rights focus to include the largely unexplored gendered implications of transnational corporate crime. Her work investigates the impact on women of the changing nature of conflicts in global economic structures, including sexual violence against women. This research aims to deepen the understanding of the distinct and critical role women play as stakeholders in the society: as consumers, workers or employees and most importantly as the members of local communities. 

Sharmila reports: “I am deeply honoured to receive the Shirley Greenberg Scholarship for Women in Legal Profession for the past academic year (2014-2015).  As an international graduate student without any funding or bursary, I have a huge financial commitment to my education.  This award helped me to take care of the major financial obligations in terms of my course fees.  The bursary enabled me to venture into a neglected but very pragmatic area of research-- the intersection between transnational corporate crimes and sexual violence against women. I presented my preliminary findings at the Annual Graduate Student Conference organized by Graduate Student Association in Law, University of Ottawa. I was also able to engage in more specific research in this area to develop a case study of Guatemalan women who are the victims of such corporate complicity.  I presented this work at the Canadian Law and Society Association, Annual Conference (CLSA Congress) on a panel by the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), University of Ottawa. I am working on a paper on this issue that will appear in the working paper series of the HRREC.  I am hopeful that research and publication in this area will open doors to predominant areas of socio-legal scholarship in the future.”

H. Women’s Legal Mentorship Program

The Greenberg Chair again provided core funding of $5000 for this program, described as follows:

The WLMP is a comprehensive feminist legal mentorship program developed by women studying law at the University of Ottawa. The goal of the WLMP is to help women to develop a support system that will help them throughout their legal careers. The program — the first of its kind in Ontario — facilitates peer-to-peer mentorship, student-lawyer mentorship and professional development workshops.

WLMP uOttawa Chapter 2014 - 2015 Report Summary

The WLMP uOttawa Chapter's engagement among female law students continues to show results. The WLMP has seen the following results:

>     An unprecedented 19 applicants for the WLMP uOttawa Chapter's Volunteer Student Leader positions;

>     Strong student enrollment in the WLMP's Peer Mentorship and Student-Lawyer Mentorship programs;

>     Eight WLMP uOttawa Chapter events were held, this included the Legal Innovations event open to all Common Law students co-sponsored by the WLMP and developed in partnership with the Faculty's Professionalism Initiative;

>     Promotion of all WLMP uOttawa events on the WLMP National's blog/website as well as showcasing the jointly sponsored Legal Innovations panel on the WLMP's YouTube Channel;

>     Working with members of the uOttawa Faculty of Common Law regarding the WLMP uOttawa Chapter's Operational Policies;

>     Developing in conjunction with the WLMP uOttawa Faculty Advisors a directed research project; and,

>     Connecting graduating WLMP Participants with the WLMP GTA Alumna Chapter. This is the WLMP's latest Chapter expansion and consists of former WLMP Participants and legal mentors working in the GTA.

Ongoing Demand for WLMP Legal Mentorship Program:

The popularity of the WLMP's programming and access to the WLMP's Advocacy MentorshipTM model continues. During the 2014-2015 academic year a total of 228 female uOttawa Common Law Students registered as WLMP Participants through the WLMP uOttawa Chapter.

Out of the 228 registered WLMP Participants, 104 female students requested a legal mentor. Tatyana Loeffler-Vulpe, the WLMP Coordinating Assistant, worked with the Legal Links and Bridges ("LLB") work study student to ensure the WLMP's Student-Lawyer Mentorship Program ("WLMP SLM") complemented and worked in conjunction with each other.

After accounting for redundant applications between the LLB and WLMP SLM programs and changes in students' mentorship requests, 49 students were matched through the WLMP Student-Lawyer Program.

Currently, the WLMP has over 80 legal mentors, but the amount of active WLMP legal mentors and accessibility of mentors fluctuates due to maternity or family leave. This issue is unique to women's mentorship programming. Given changes in legal mentors' status, the WLMP SLM program was working with approximately 62 lawyers. Thankfully, a number of our WLMP legal mentors opt to mentor more than one WLMP Participant. The WLMP National Board is looking at engaged more of our alumna into mentoring uOttawa students.

WLMP's uOttawa Chapter's Events Programming:

The WLMP uOttawa Chapter offers a number of Professional Development events that are focused on helping WLMP Participants develop skills outside the classroom. The following is a list of all WLMP uOttawa Chapter events held during the 2014-2015 academic year:

September 17, 2014 - WLMP uOttawa Chapter Orientation

The WLMP uOttawa Chapter held its annual information session. This session was open to all interested Faculty of Common Law students. The session focused on explaining how the WLMP works and provides information on the WLMP's mentorship programming.

October 8, 2014 - Meet Your Match- (WLMP Peer Mentors)

Following the WLMP's peer mentorship model, the WLMP uOttawa Chapter provides a safe space for all registered WLMP Peer Mentorship Participants to meet for the first time. Over 90% of all registered WLMP Peer Mentors and WLMP Peer Mentees attended. During this session, a 10 to 15 minute Peer Mentorship Orientation overview, which included peer mentorship tips and ensured that all WLMP Participants understand the parameters of the program.

October10, 2014 - WLMP Legal Leaders Breakfast

The annual WLMP Legal Leaders Breakfast was well attended given the event was held on the Friday before the October long weekend. Over 65 lawyers, Faculty members and students attended to hear Ms. Barbara Jackman's keynote address on the importance of advocacy in the legal profession.

November 5, 2014 - Demystifying the Moot - English Section

This annual event, held in advance of the English Common Law Nelligan O'Brien Payne Moot was rescheduled due to October 22nd lockdown. As part of the WLMP's goal of increasing peer mentorship, the WLMP uOttawa Chapter works with the Faculty's mooting coaches to connect with uOttawa's top female mooters. This panel of former mooter panelists answered all moot questions while also encouraging female students to moot. They shared their tips with first year English Common Law students. The event was open to all female students who wish to participate.

November 19, 2014 - "Innovations in Delivery of Legal Services"

Co-Sponsored Event The WLMP partnered with Faculty of Common Law's Professionalism Initiative and held a panel on "Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services" on November 19, 2014 as part of the Cavanagh LLP Professionalism Speaker Series. The panel consisted of Mr. Malcolm Mercer, Ms. Monica Goyal and Ms. Shelby Austin. The Shirley Greenberg Fund provided the funding to film the panel.

February 17, 2015- WLMP Equity Event - "Human Rights and You - The Law in Action"

WLMP uOttawa's annual event feature Juliet Knapton an Ottawa based lawyer and educator. Drawing on her human rights knowledge and legal experience, Ms. Knapton discussed how students can equip themselves with the tools and understand the issues related to harassment, discrimination, racial biases and stereotyping that might occur in the workplace. For more information please refer to the WLMP site.

February 25, 2015 - Demystifions la plaidoirie - French Common Law

This event is similar to the event offered in Fall to English Common Law students, but is offered to all interested female law students participating in French Common Law first year moot.

March 18, 2015 - WLMP uOttawa Mentorship Appreciation Event

The WLMP uOttawa Chapter Mentorship Appreciation Event was well attended bringing out WLMP Legal Mentors as well as WLMP Peer Mentors and Mentees.

Working with uOttawa Associations and Clubs:

The WLMP uOttawa Chapter strives to build relationships and support sister clubs and associations within the law school. The WLMP is thrilled that feminist uOttawa law students have established the Feminist Legal Collective. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the WLMP uOttawa Chapter participated in the Feminist Legal Collective meetings as well as promoting feminist and women's groups' events such as the Ottawa LEAF Breakfast and UOAWL events.

WLMP and Professionalism Initiative Partnership on YouTube:

The WLMP National identified that law schools were not talking about Alternative Business Structures ("ABS") with students. Given the eventual introduction and the likelihood of ABS models within the legal profession, the WLMP partnered with the uOttawa Professionalism Initiative to develop a panel for the Cavanagh LLP Professionalism Speaker Series.

To highlight the uOttawa Faculty of Common Law's engagement with law students and its partnership with the WLMP, the WLMP posted the footage of this event on YouTube channel as a means of showcasing the issues and the law school. The Shirley Greenberg Fund provided the funding to film the panel.

Their enrollment for peer mentorship for 2013-14 was 205 members, and for the matching student-lawyer mentorship they managed to match 64 women students with women lawyers. In addition the WLMP hosted a number of leadership and professional development workshops aimed at their members. A more complete description of their activities is found in their annual report for 2013-14, attached.

I. Sponsorship of the Women, Law and Human Rights Research collection on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

The Greenberg Chair continues to pay the annual fee to host the SSRN ejournal, Women, Law and Human Rights, edited by Professor Elizabeth Sheehy and Professor Lucie Lamarche, Gordon Henderson Chair and Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre. As described on SSRN: “This eJournal distributes working and accepted paper abstracts related to Women, Law and Human Rights. This eJournal is interested in a wide range of topics and interdisciplinary work is invited. Des articles peuvent aussi être soumis en français - Los artículos pueden ser presentados en español. We welcome abstracts of articles in French and Spanish as well. You can connect here:

This ejournal increases our Faculty’s research visibility, as well as confirming our exceptional faculty strengths in feminist analysis and human rights research.

J. The Canadian Journal of Women and the Law

The Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (CJWL) is the only feminist law journal in Canada and is once more housed at the University of Ottawa Faculty of La. With the support of the Faculty of Law and the Greenberg Chair, we are able 1) to offer release time to the faculty member taking over the editorship and 2) funding support to a student editor position (shared with the Faculty and the University of Ottawa work-study program for students). In addition, the CJWL created additional unpaid student editorships that allow students to learn important editing and research skills in the service of feminist legal publishing. The journal offers a scholarly home for Canadian feminist analysis, provides publishing opportunities for colleagues and students, and offers relevant and topical employment opportunities for feminist student editors.

In 2014-15, the CJWL has seen an effortless transition of English language editors from the able hands of Prof Rosemary Cairns Way (Ottawa) to the newly appointed Prof Natasha Bakht (Ottawa).  French language editorship has continued under the capable stewardship of Prof Annie Rochette (UQAM).  The CJWL renewed its by-laws in accordance with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act in October 2014 and took the opportunity to also update a new slate of Board of Directors and editorial board members from the energetic and intelligent Canadian feminist legal community. The CJWL was successful in its SSHRC application, receiving $62,600 over the next three years. This year also saw the publication of two new issues including a special issue guest edited by Prof Robert Leckey entitled After Equality: Family, Sex, Kinship. Upcoming projects include: (1) a special issue guest edited by Profs Susan Boyd and Elizabeth Sheehy on Men’s Groups as a Challenge to Feminism;(2)an entirely French issue, guest edited by Prof Louise Langevin concerning Law and The Regulation of Gender in Europe; and (3) a two-day roundtable consultation in partnership with FAFIA (Feminist Alliance for International Action), inviting leading Aboriginal scholars, activists and organizations to discuss the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

K. Pro Bono Students Canada Launch Event / Lancement du Réseau national d’étudiants pro bono

On September 10, 2014, the Greenberg Chair co-sponsored the Pro Bono Students Canada launch event held at Fauteux Hall. The launch event was followed by a reception in the Tsampalieros Atrium. The purpose of this event is to motivate and inspire student volunteers as they begin their placements with PBSC. This year the following speaks addressed the students: Michele Moreau, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice; Anne Levesque, Director of the French LPP and former human rights lawyer at Champ & Associates; and Michael Bossin, staff lawyer at Community Legal Services Ottawa Centre.

L. Human Rights Film Festival, October 2-5 2014

The Greenberg Chair agreed to share the costs of this new initiative organized by the Human Rights Research and Education Centre in collaboration with the Canadian Film Institute. This year the Greenberg Chair helped sponsor the following films:

  • The Supreme Price (dir. Joanna Lipper, USA and Nigeria, 2013, English dialogue, 75 min, Documentary) 
    This film tells the story of women who are fighting for women’s rights in Nigeria and focuses on the struggles of women in leadership roles.
  • For Those Who Can Tell No Tales (dir. Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2013, English and Bosnian dialogue, 75 min, Fiction)
    Trailer: This is a story of an Australian woman who goes to Bosnia on holiday and stays in a hotel where women had been systematically raped during the Serb-Bosnian conflict. She discovers this fact and begins to investigate and is met with silence and resistance and intimidation. 
  • I Am a Girl (dir. Rebecca Barry, Australia, 2013, Khymer, French, Ewondo, Farsi, Tok Pisin, and English dialogue, 88 min, Documentary) - this looks at teenage girls who are moving through adolescence to adulthood and deals with a variety of issues including mental health (depression), violence against women, poverty etc. - Our aim is to show this film to one or two High School audiences before the actual festival to raise awareness about human rights issues and the festival itself.
  • Additionally, the opening night film was * Gabrielle (dir. Louise Archambault, Canada, 2013, French dialogue, 104 min, Fiction)
    It is the story of a young woman with Williams syndrome (mental disability) and her desire to live a more independent life.

M.    Indigenous student support  

A.    Funding support to enable six members of the Aboriginal Law Students Association, four of whom were women, to attend the annual meeting and conference of the Indigenous Bar Association in Calgary Alberta in October 2014.

The students report as follows:

“The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) Conference was held in Calgary, Alberta from October 2, 2014 to October 4, 2014. The theme of this year’s conference focused on “Enriching Canada with Indigenous Laws and Perspectives” in a forum where Indigenous legal academics, practitioners and students were able to engage and discuss important issues relative to Indigenous communities nationally and internationally. This year, six students from the Indigenous Law Students Association (ILSA) received funding from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa as well as the Shirley Greenberg Chair for the female attendees. The students were: Jessica Saris, Ashley King (1L), Amanda General, Brooks Arcand-Paul, Chris Folz (2L), and Neegann Aaswaakshin (3L). This funding provided a means for Indigenous students to interact and represent the University of Ottawa in discussing innovative and pressing Indigenous issues.  Upon discussion about attending the conference, students expressed that participating helped to clarify how traditional Indigenous values can be applied into the practice of law. Students emphasized that attending the conference also helped to validate how Indigenous principles could have a place in the broader social context as well. 

“Discussions and workshops over the course of the weekend offered insight on the reception of Indigenous legal traditions while allowing students the opportunity to speak to Indigenous members and exchange ideas. The ability to engage in conversation about contemporary Indigenous legal issues offered practical feedback and instructions for the students who attended. In attending the conference, the Indigenous Law Students Association nominated Brooks Arcand-Paul as the Eastern representative for the Indigenous Bar Association. This position was assumed by Mr. Arcand-Paul and will continue to be filled for the next two years. The importance given to Indigenous legal traditions and related legal concepts at the University of Ottawa was mirrored in the reception that attending students received. Students expressed that attending the conference helped to contribute information into why attending law school is important for Indigenous students and also provided a means whereby students were able to network and discuss the process of becoming a lawyer with members of the IBA. This occasion allowed the students to have practical application to legal knowledge gained the course of studies.

“Without funding received, ILSA members would not have had to chance to attend the annual conference. It was noted at the conference that the University of Ottawa had the highest number of attendees and it was commented on frequently. The ability to send six students as representatives from the Common Law program was an opportunity that proved to be incredibly beneficial for all attendees. ILSA would like to extend our thanks to the Faculty of Law and the Shirley Greenberg Chair for making this a possibility.


Amanda General, Vice President, ILSA

On behalf of The Indigenous Law Students Association”

B. Funding support for Jessica Saris: 

I participated in the 3-credit course, “Water, Human Rights, and Indigenous Rights in Chile”, in Concepcion, Chile at the University de Concepcion. The course was taught by Professor Shin lmai from Osgoode Hall Law School and Professor Amaya Alvez from the University de Concepcion as well as a multitude of guest expert speakers from various social science and science backgrounds.

During the course we participated in many field trips. We toured the Chiflon del Diablo Mine in Lota, Chile and viewed the dams along the Bio Bio River. We also met with Indigenous people, the Mapuche, in their homes in the Andes Mountains and by the sea, to hear first-hand accounts of their struggles with water issues. The professors and guest lecturers were extremely friendly, and helpful, and would often take time to sit with students and answer any questions that we had. I had an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture in Chile and I also reciprocated this new knowledge by presenting a short seminar to Chilean students on Indigenous water issues facing Indigenous people in Canada. Most rewarding though, was the opportunity this course afforded me to meet with Indigenous legal professionals currently working with Indigenous people on important human rights issues. Especially worthwhile was being able to discuss frankly Indigenous world issues, the realities of being a female Indigenous lawyer, the profession itself, and establishing lifelong contacts and mentors with other female professionals.

In Canada, Indigenous women are often considered within their communities to be water keepers who are responsible for protecting and preserving water. During our field trip to the Andes we were invited into a female Mapuche leader's traditional home where we were able to listen to her discuss the water issues facing her people. We also had an opportunity to ask her questions and engage in dialogue surrounding Indigenous water rights and water conservation.

The most important thing I learned during this experience though is how many different facets there are to environmental issues. It is so much more than law. There are many social factors and science factors that are involved. They are not just issues about who has access to water, but rather it is a much bigger concept. World problems like this affect so many people as well as our fragile ecosystems. In order to solve these big problems, lots of people, and disciplines, need to be involved: governments, Indigenous people, scientists, sociologists, and engineers.

N.     International Presence

Three initiatives were pursued by the Greenberg Chair:

  1. Elizabeth Sheehy presented her paper, “The Banalization of Torture” (on domestic violence as torture) on the Closing Plenary for the Inaugural Asia-Pacific Conference on Gendered Violence and Violations at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia in February 2015. One outcome of this presentation was an invitation by Professor Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur to the UN on Violence Against Women, to co-author a publication on domestic violence as torture.
  2. Elizabeth Sheehy convened a Consultation at the Faculty of Law in April 2015 for a delegation of five members of the Sexual Offences Commission, appointed by the government of Sweden to review and propose reforms to their rape law. The Greenberg Chair invited a Toronto feminist lawyer, an Ottawa feminist lawyer, two professors who teach Sexual Assault Law, and four Ottawa community-based women’s activists to participate in this three-hour meeting. The Commission is now poised to recommend a legal shift to a sexual assault law based on affirmative consent instead of their current model that relies on proof of force.
  3. Elizabeth Sheehy convened a Consultation in response to a request by the High Commission for the Republic of Zambia to participate in a Study Tour on Gender-Based Violence in order to make recommendations to the government of Zambia on implementation of its international obligations under CEDAW. Four delegates from the Ministry of Gender and Child Development met Elizabeth Sheehy and a feminist family lawyer to discuss and share best practices.
Back to top