Chair’s Report 2007-2008

Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

As set out in the Gift Agreement establishing the Greenberg Chair in 2005:

The ‘Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession’ is designed to strengthen University of Ottawa teaching, research and administration as they related 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.

In July, 2007, Martha Jackman assumed the Greenberg Chair, taking over from Professor Sanda Rodgers, who occupied the Greenberg Chair from 2005-2007 and Professor Elizabeth Sheehy, who was the first holder of the Greenberg Chair. 

Professor Jackman was appointed to the French Common Law Program in 1988, where she teaches in the areas of constitutional law and litigation, women and the law, and social justice.  She has occupied leadership positions in several feminist legal organizations, including managing editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law; member of the National Legal Committee and Board of Directors of LEAF; member of the National Steering Committee of the National Association of Women and the Law; and member of the Equality Rights Panel of the Court Challenges Program.  She has acted as legal counsel in a number of Charter test cases raising women’s equality issues, including in Gosselin and in G. (J.) before the Supreme Court of Canada.  She is the recipient of the Marion Porter Prize, awarded by the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women for the most significant feminist research article from a journal or anthology; the Augusta Stowe-Gullen Affirmative Action Medal; and, in 2007, the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal.


Activities of the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair in 2007-2008

Annual Women’s Alumni Tea & Talk

On September 29, 2007, the Greenberg Chair sponsored the annual Alumni Tea & Talk for Women Graduates at fall homecoming, on the theme: ‘Celebrating 50 Years of Women in Common Law’.  The Tea, catered by Tulips & Maple, took place in the Tsampalieros Atrium at Fauteux Hall, and was co-hosted by Rose-Marie Perry and Professor Martha Jackman.

The Tea, attended by over 50 graduates and current law students, marked the 50th anniversary of the Common Law Section, and the 30th anniversary of the French Common Law program, by focusing on the unique experiences of women in Common Law during this remarkable first half century of the law school’s existence.  Rose-Marie Perry, LL.B. 1961, the first woman University of Ottawa Common Law graduate and Chelsea Paradis, LL.B. 2007, reflected on their respective experiences as law students and on the question of how the law school experience has changed over the years and in what ways has it remained the same.

Graduates were also asked to consider sponsoring a current Common Law student to attend the Tea as their guest, with a view to sharing their respective law school experiences and furthering ties between past and future women graduates of the law school.  Many graduates did so, providing an opportunity for current students to make valuable connections with women already in practice.


The Shirley E. Greenberg Lecture Series

The 2007-2008 Greenberg Lecture series was again a great success, drawing a monthly overflow audience of students, professors and members of the general public, who were treated to a sandwich lunch and a stimulating presentation by members of the law school’s feminist teaching faculty.
 
This year, the Greenberg Lecture Series included the following presentations:

Sept. 26 – Professor Martha Jackman, ‘Health and Equality: is There a Cure?’

Oct. 10 – Professor Natasha Bakht, ‘Protecting Women by Protecting Them from Religious Arbitration in Ontario’

Oct. 31 – Professor Lucie Lamarche, ‘The Right of Women not to be Poor: Good Intentions but Wrong Human Rights Policy’

Nov. 14 – Professor Marie-Êve Sylvestre, ‘Criminalization of Itinerancy: Controlling Incivilities in Montreal and Rio de Janeiro’

Jan. 16 – Professors Sanda Rodgers & Daphne Gilbert, ‘The 20th Anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision’

Feb. 27 – Professor Joanne St. Lewis, ‘Unchained but Not Yet Free: What can Black Feminism Contribute to Contemporary Geopolitics?’

Mar. 19 (joint Greenberg and Environmental Law Lecture Series) – Professor Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, ‘Feminism and the Environment’


African Women’s Equality Project Presentation

On April 2, 2008 the Greenberg Chair sponsored a lunch time lecture, attended by over two dozen feminist faculty members and students, given by Professor Joanne St. Lewis and feminist lawyer Fiona Sampson, who presented their Law Foundation of Ontario funded project to set up a clinic at the Faculty of Law that will provide support to African women and women’s organizations advancing equality agendas.  A lively question and answer period followed the presentation.


LEAF Ottawa Persons’ Day Breakfast

On October 18, 2007, LEAF Ottawa hosted its annual Persons Day Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa.  LEAF Ottawa is the only entirely student-run Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) caucus in Canada, and the members of the LEAF Ottawa executive are all students at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law.  The Greenberg Chair sponsored 40 student tickets for the Breakfast as well as 5 tickets that were made available, free of charge, to low income women.  The keynote speaker at the Breakfast was CBC Radio reporter Yvette Brend, who spoke movingly of her experience covering the story of the serial murders of numerous Aboriginal and other women from Vancouver’s lower-East side.

In the Spring of 2008, the LEAF Ottawa executive thanked the Greenberg Chair for its support throughout the year, noting in particular that: ‘The Chair’s financial commitment to our Persons’ Day Breakfast was particularly important to us, as it allowed dozens of common law students to attend the event at an accessible cost.’


Student participation at the Women’s Court of Canada Symposium

As described by its founders, the Women’s Court of Canada (WCC) is a project that brings together feminist academics, activists and practicing lawyers to operate as a virtual court, reconsidering and rewriting leading equality decisions so as to articulate fresh conceptions of substantive equality in the form of full judgments.  A symposium, marking the publication of the first six judgments of the WCC in a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, took place in Toronto on March 6 & 7, 2008.

The Greenberg Chair sponsored Professors Natasha Bakht and Professor Rosemary Cairns-Way (who were invited to perform in the opening gala), and six University of Ottawa law students to attend the symposium: Yinka Olusoga (French Common Law), Julie Shugarman (English Common Law), Jena McGill (English Common Law), Carol Eshkakogan (English Common Law), Danielle Lussier (LL.M. program) and Kerri Froc (LL.M. program).
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Student Participation at the Annual Black Law Students Association Conference

The Greenberg Chair sponsored two University of Ottawa women students: Vivene Salmon and Keri Davis, to attend the 17th Annual Conference of the Black Law Students Association of Canada in Vancouver on February 22 & 23, 2008.  The Black Law Students’ Association conference is held annually to allow black students from law faculties throughout Canada to engage with leaders in the legal community with the goal of fostering their participation and advancement in legal education and the legal profession.  Vivene Salmon provided the following summary of her experience:

One of the most salient and interesting sessions we attended was entitled, “The Legal View: A conversation about the intersecting barriers of race and gender”. The panel was comprised of Chantal Da Silva, Beverly Jacobs, Sharon McIvor, Zara Suleman and Jacy Wingson. These women shared very poignant personal experiences of their struggle to balance children, careers, friends and partners. Other issues were also raised at this session including, the challenges faced in the workforce when the perspectives of female lawyers are callously dismissed, the loneliness many women of colour experiences as the sole visible minority women in their firm, the stress experienced by constantly having to prove oneself and the challenges of working with other women in the legal environment. Also discussed was the high level of attrition of female lawyers several years into their careers. While there appears to be no quick solutions to address systemic gender and racial barriers in the legal profession, we came away feeling inspired by a generation of female lawyers that have gone before us to ease our entry into the legal profession and encouraged that we can make a difference in our society as women and as black people, despite significant challenges.  


Women and the Legal Profession Course

The Greenberg Chair provided funding for release-time to enable Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, to continue co-teaching the ‘Women and the Legal Profession: Defending Battered Women on Trial’ course (CML 3374D) with Professor Elizabeth Sheehy in the Winter 2008 semester.  Professors Sheehy and Pate’s course 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.

Speaking Engagements and other activities by the Greenberg Chair

In her capacity as holder of the Greenberg chair, Professor undertook a number of speaking engagements, including the following:

Nov. 2007, ‘The Implications of Auton for Equality Rights Claims in the Health Care Context’, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund Nape/Auton/Hodge Consultation, Ottawa, Ontario

Nov. 2007, ‘The Impact on Women of Abolishing the Court Challenges Program of Canada’, House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women, Ottawa, Ontario

Feb. 2008, ‘The Charter and Access to Abortion Twenty Years After the Morgentaler Decision’, Federation of Medical Women of Canada Seminar on Reproductive Choice and Access to Abortion Services, Ottawa, Ontario

Apr. 2008, ‘Charter Equality as an Accountability Mechanism in the Health Care Context’, Federal Court Clerks Speaker Series, Ottawa, Ontario


Proposed projects of the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for 2008-2009

Proposed Greenberg Chair projects for 2008-2009 include the Annual Women’s Alumni Tea & Talk, this year on the theme: ‘Women in Private Practice: Old Challenges, New Solutions?’ with guest speakers Shirley Greenberg and Josée Bouchard, Equity Director for the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the annual Greenberg feminist lecture series.  In addition, the Greenberg Chair will be sponsoring a major conference in March, 2008, organized by Professors Elizabeth Sheehy and Pascale Fournier, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Jane Doe decision. 

Finally, as her principal Greenberg Chair project, Professor Jackman is proposing to publish an updated Annotated Bibliography of Canadian Feminist Literature on Law.   In 1999, Professor Jackman coordinated and obtained funding to enable the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law to produce the first Canadian Feminist Literature on Law: An Annotated Bibliography (1980-1998 en français//988-1998 in English).  In addition to providing a crucial teaching tool, the original Annotated Bibliography was an invaluable resource for lawyers, researchers and activists engaged in feminist litigation and law reform efforts.  It is anticipated that the update, which will include French and English feminist legal writing and cover the period from 1998 – 2008, will fill the same need.

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