Reproductive Labour? Perspectives on the law, policy and practice of surrogacy

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

On November 14th, 2016, the Greenberg Chair in Women and the Legal Profession at the Faculty of Law,  and the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa, was proud to present a panel featuring a variety of perspectives on law, policy and practice of surrogacy in an international context.

The panel featured Prof. Bronwyn Parry, of the Faculty of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College London, Pam McEachern, lawyer at Nelligan, O'Brian, Payne LLP ( family and human rights law) and Erin LePine, lawyer at Nelligan, O'Brian, Payne LLP ( family and fertility law).

Both a podcast and a transcript are available here.

A Letter to Our Friends on Both Sides of the Border

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

To The Parties Affected by the Recent Wave of Hate Crimes and Ignorance,

                First, I send you greetings from a fellow North American who shares the shock, the pain and the hurt has resulted from the recent U.S. Election for many groups. I also acknowledge the pain and frustration that those who have suffered at the hands of hateful individuals who have decided to emerge from hiding and reek terror on the good people of our cities, whether here in Ottawa or beyond our borders.

There are some things in life we cannot explain. At this time, it's easy to sink into the dark recesses of fear and be prepared to expect the worst in human beings. It’s natural to feel as though you’re now in a world where every stake that could’ve been uprooted has been hammered in tighter while even more are driven into the ground of your path in life. It’s easy to feel alone when it seems as though people have turned against you, have turned their backs on basic, human decency. You feel isolated, scared, fearful, depressed, even angry. You feel as though your friends will call you crazy for letting these things get to you; that your parents will say to worry about what you can change; that your significant other will slowly begin to distance themselves from you because you’re not the same person you were before these things happened.

                But you’re forgetting something.

                You’re not alone.

To the minorities who fear having their race be the only judge of their character,

                Your ownership and stake in this land has not been diminished by the amount of melanin in your skin. Your accomplishments have shaped the nation and the world so profoundly that no one can erase you from history. Your blood, sweat and tears have formed the foundation for laws and principles of oneness and equality that no executive order can overturn. Your cultural uniqueness is an asset, not a burden.  You are not alone.

To the women of the country who fear being shackled by sexism,

                Your worth can never be summed up by your measurements. Your potential doesn’t depend on how many likes your Instagram photos get. Your power does not come from a man’s permission to lead, but your God-given right to rule like the queen you are. Your integrity is not for sale because you are not an object. Your intelligence is not a question because it is often the answer. Your voice is not nagging, it’s you saying, “I want something better.”  You are not alone.

To the religious groups who fear being targeted because of their faith,

                Our faiths may differ, but the bonds of humanity we share can never be severed by differences in doctrines. Our practices may be different, but our shared love for human kind is one that transcends those things that spark contentions between us. We know what it is like to have extremists deface the principles of our faith and mislead people about the character of our God. We know what it is like to have people believe that a minority of ignorant, hateful individuals who believe that perverting Holy Scripture to suit political agendas, speak for all of us, who pretend that their actions don’t break the heart of a divine, loving God, whatever name we choose to call Him. You are not alone.

To the members of the LGBTQ+ community who fear being persecuted for their sexual orientation,

                 Who you love, how you identify, is none of our business. How we treat you is everyone’s concern. Your lives have been open books that some people wish were closed. They fear the confidence you have to live as you are because they wear masks to hide who they are. Your humanity is not determined by who you love, how you identify yourself or even how you live your lives.  You are not alone.

To the immigrant families and communities who fear being deported,

                Your place is right here with us. Your sacrifices are so bound up in the fabric of this country, your diverse experiences and skills so essential to the essence of what has made this nation already great, that to tear you out of it would be tantamount to tearing out a chunk of our soul. Your children are our children, your families are our families, and your home is where the hearts of all citizens of the country lie: in the soil of the land you are standing on. You are not alone.

                Anyone who tells you to hate your brother because he prays to a different God, pray for them because they know not what they do or what they say. Anyone who says that being a certain skin colour makes you inferior, show them where the Founding Fathers declared in the document that gave America its freedom that ALL men and women are created equal. Anyone who believes that a woman is nothing more than a rating given to her by a man-child, remind them that royalty doesn’t need outside consultation on whether their pedigree is good enough to sit on the throne and rule. Anyone who allows for hatred to thrive against people who are of a different sexual orientation, who wants to treat them as though they’re second-class citizens in a first-world country, enlighten them to the fact that human beings deserve respect and equal treatment, no exceptions.
Politics may shape a country, but it is the individual citizens who choose if they will be defined by it. And time after time, in the face of adversity, we have always stood together, whether we be Canadians or Americans. Because we all know as I do that our people who are hurting right now, who need our support and our protection, are not alone. There will always be others who share your views, individuals who support your dreams and your visions, communities of all faiths, races, and orientations who want to see your hopes bear fruit.


And when individuals challenge you, if they want to stand in your way, if they dare you to make them move out of your way on the road to progress, your response…

Is not anger.
Is not guns.
Is not cynicism.
Is not violence.
Is not God-blaming.
Is not victim-shaming.
Is not establishment berating.
It’s nothing more than a smile and nine words.

“If we can move mountains, we can move you.” 

 ©Krystene Robinson

Krystene Robinson is a first year law student at the University of Ottawa in the JD/MA program. She is from Markham, Ontario and desires to pursue a career in international criminal law.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Greenberg Chair in Women  and the Legal Profession was thrilled to host Dr. Carys Craig on Wednesday, Sept. 21st, 2016. She delivered a talk entitled "A Feminist Copyright Agenda:
Open Access, Attribution & the Academy". You can find the transcript of this thought provoking talk here and the podcast here.

The 2016 Indigenous Bar Association Conference

By: Beth Kotierk

The 2016 Indigenous Bar Association Conference entitled “Redefining Relationships: With or Without You” was hosted in Musqueam Territory. There was a record-breaking student count at this year’s conference, which created a particular energy in the air - one that was forward-thinking and hopeful.

In our corner of the legal profession, women seem to outnumber the men and being surrounded by so many successful and inspiring Indigenous women was a rare and special experience. Looking around the conference, you could see distinguished and influential Indigenous lawyers and advocates. A deep respect for the work that has been done, and continues to be done by these individuals emerges as you navigate the conference and catch glimpses of their laughs and conversations.

The conference was filled with speakers that inspired and motivated like Senator Murray Sinclair, Jeffrey Hewitt, Dr. Val Napoleon, Dr. Tracy Lindberg, Tanya Kappo, and Jean Teillet.  All speakers spoke so eloquently - from their hearts - encouraging us all to remain critical and compassionate.

A common message of many of the speakers was to remember to love your communities more than you love yourself; a humble and powerful request of us. These tugs of responsibility and obligations, depending on your discipline, are overwhelming in isolation. Our ability to gather together and talk about culture, histories and current issues affecting our communities revealed the passion and pain of legal pursuits.

Val Napoleon, an absolute idol, was awarded the Annual IBA award this year at the gala. Val Napoleon was honoured by traditional Musqueam dancers and drummers; the ceremony was the most moving and beautiful honouring I have seen in a long time. I have a deep respect for this phenomenal leader and woman. A sense of joy, encouragement and connectedness filled the room during the gala, thinking about how far Indigenous peoples have come in our common struggle with the Canadian government; to be recognized and respected as nations.

Attending the conference provided us the opportunity to imagine what the future holds.This is only possible through the hard work of our community members and our women. Qujannamiik to the Indigenous Bar Association for being a revitalizing experience and support network for so many Indigenous women and female-identified Indigenous people.

Beth Kotierk is the daughter of Apayata and Juliet Kotierk from Igloolik, Nunavut. She is currently in her second year of law school at the University of Ottawa.

Nouveau cours appliqué sur la réforme féministe ANFD/ NAWL's applied course in feminist law reform

Monday, October 3, 2016

Chère amie, cher ami de l’ANFD,

Nous vous invitons à assister au lancement du nouveau cours appliqué sur la réforme féministe du droit intitulé : « Réforme du droit féministe 101 » du Fonds pour la recherche et l’éducation de l’Association nationale Femmes et Droit. Le lancement, suivi d’une réception, auront lieu le mercredi 2 novembre, de 18 h à 20 h, au Pavillon des diplômés Alex-Trebek, 157, Séraphin-Marion privé à l’Université d’Ottawa.

Il s’agit d’un tout nouveau cours en ligne d’accès ouvert et complètement bilingue qui se fonde sur l’expertise de juristes, de militantes et d’autres féministes activement engagées dans le processus de réforme du droit. Le cours se veut une sorte de « boîte à outils » permettant de développer les compétences nécessaires pour faire avancer les droits à l’égalité. Les sujets abordés comprennent notamment l’interaction avec des représentant(e)s du gouvernement et des députés, le recours efficace aux médias, et le travail au sein de coalitions. Ce cours combine des lectures avec de brefs clips vidéo et propose des questions à débat dans un format interactif susceptible d’être utilisé aussi bien en salle de classe que dans d’autres cadres. Après son lancement, le cours sera accessible ici.

Prière de répondre par courriel avant le 28 octobre à : N’hésitez pas à diffuser cette invitation parmi votre entourage et auprès de toute personne susceptible de vouloir assister à ce lancement. Nous espérons vous voir en grand nombre le 2 novembre ! 

Dear friend of NAWL:

We are writing to invite you to attend the launch of the National Association of Women and the Law Charitable Trusts’ new applied course on feminist law reform: ‘Feminist Law Reform 101’.  The launch and reception will take place on Wednesday November 2nd, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the Alex Trebek Alumni Hall, 157 Séraphin-Marion Private, at the University of Ottawa.

This new online open-access and fully bilingual course draws on the expertise of feminist lawyers, activists and others actively engaged in the law reform process and provides a “tool-kit” for pursuing systemic legislative change. Topics covered include interacting with the executive branch and MPs, making effective use of the media, and working in coalitions.  The course combines readings with short video clips and suggested discussion questions in an interactive format designed for use in both classroom and non-classroom settings.  The course can be accessed herefollowing the launch.

Please RSVP before October 28th by e-mailing Feel free to share this invitation with anyone who may be interested in attending and we look forward to seeing you on November 2nd

WLMP awards Shirley E. Greenberg

Shirley E. Greenberg recently received the Friend of the Women's Legal Mentorship Program Award. The WLMP has recognised Ms. Greenberg's dedication to women's legal mentorship and her work to increase the retention of women in the law.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Some of our fabulous uOttawa law students invite you to #DanceIsMyExpression—a night of youth choreographed dance in support of mental health.

The night will feature dance pieces choreographed by Ottawa youth between the ages of 6 and 18 that are expressive of something they wanted to share with the world. These dancers have really done a fantastic job with their choreography. Their stories range from being in their happy place, to losing a grandparent, to bullying, to depression/suicidal thoughts, to friendship, to taking everything life throws at you. The showcase features all styles of dance and aspecial guest performance by YTV host Carlos Bustamante!

The showcase is being held on Friday Oct 14th from 7pm to 9:30pm at St. Paul's High School and all the proceeds from the event are going to the Paul Hansell Foundationa non-profit organization aimed at supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of youth. 

Tickets are available at:

An evening with Trey Anthony

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Save the Date: An Evening with Trey Anthony

The Joint Chair in Women’s Studies at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa will be hosting an evening with Trey Anthony, the award-winning playwright, actor, executive producer, and director of the theatrical production “Da Kink in My Hair”. 

Anthony was the first Black Canadian woman to write and produce a television show of the same name for the Global Television Network and has been a writer and producer for the W Network, Comedy Network and CTV.  Anthony volunteers with Black Queer Youth Group in Toronto, mentoring female adolescent girls and in 2009, she founded a woman-focused wellness facility The Trey Anthony@One Centre in Toronto.
Please save the date to hear and welcome this Canadian icon on Tuesday, November 1st 2016 from 4 – 6pm.  This is a bilingual event.
Want to see the play?  Plan to stay and watch the NAC production of “Da Kink in My Hair” that night!  For ticket information, please consult the NAC’s website:  Please note that we are looking into securing discount tickets.
More details on both the event and the tickets to follow soon.

Prenez date : Une soirée avec Trey Anthony

La Chaire conjointe en études des femmes, de l’Université d’Ottawa et Carleton University, organise une soirée avec Trey Anthony, dramaturge, comédienne, productrice exécutive et réalisatrice de la pièce de théâtre « Da Kink in My Hair ».

Couronnée de plusieurs prix, Mme Anthony est la première femme noire canadienne à écrire et à réaliser une émission télévisée, qui porte le même nom que sa pièce de théâtre, pour le Global Television Network et a travaillé comme scénariste et réalisatrice pour le W Network, le Comedy Network et CTV. Mme Anthony travaille aussi comme bénévole avec le Black Queer Youth Group à Toronto, où elle offre un encadrement aux adolescentes. En 2009, elle a fondé à Toronto le The Trey Anthony@One Centre, un centre de bien-être pour femmes.

Veuillez réserver la date du mardi 1er novembre 2016, de 16 h à 18 h, pour accueillir cette idole canadienne. L’événement est bilingue.

Voulez-vous voir la pièce de théâtre? Restez pour assister à la représentation de « Da Kink in My Hair » au CNA ce même soir! Pour plus d’information sur les billets, veuillez consulter le site Web du CNA : Veuillez noter que nous explorons la possibilité d’offrir des billets à tarif réduit.

Plus de détails sur l’événement et les billets suivront prochainement.  

Looking for information on the Greenberg Chair's Sept 22nd and Feb 22nd events?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

For more information on the Greenberg Chair's Feb. 22nd, 2017 and Sept. 22nd. 2016 events showcasing a variety of opinions on legal responses to the sex trade, please scroll down.

Racism and the Robin Camp Inquiry

Daphne Gilbert, Lise Gotell & Elizabeth Sheehy

What does it mean to be “racialized” in Canada? And what does it have to do with our responses to sexual violence?

We used this term in our recent op ed on the Justice Camp Inquiry before the Canadian Judicial Council.  One of the points we made in this piece is that Justice Robin Camp’s alleged “re-education” on sexism (as it inhibited his ability to judge the issue of sexual assault fairly) seemingly failed to deal with the issue of racism, which we believe was also critical in this case.

We said this because the complainant at whom he directed his aggressive and disparaging remarks was a young Indigenous woman. We were reinforced in our view by the fact that the Crown prosecutor, whose effort to focus his attention on the law (as opposed to his opinions) he rebuffed with a cruel remark, was herself racialized.

But you won’t find the word in our op ed because the news agencies involved were not satisfied that we could demonstrate that the Crown prosecutor is either objectively a “woman of colour” or considers herself “racialized”. They were also understandably worried that ordinary readers would not know what this word means.

The difficulty is that being “racialized” is about how one is perceived and treated in a given society at a particular historical moment—it’s not about either “facts” such as physical appearance or “self-identity”. As our colleague Professor Joanne St Lewis observes, the issue is whether one is a member of a community that is subjected to racism. In other words, the word “racialized” recognizes that “race” and the subordination that accompanies this designation is not inherent in the person but is rather a social relation—an exercise of power.

So, while the “incomprehensible” and “unsubstantiated” word “racialized” was excised, we remain convinced that racism has been “whitewashed” out of the Camp Inquiry and that there is something critical to discuss. Too late—but we were able to substantiate our use of the word, with the help of our colleague Professor St Lewis. This Crown attorney self-identifies as “Arab” and even Statistics Canada recognizes that people viewed as “Arab” are “visible minorities.”  Arab-Canadians do experience discrimination in daily life in Canada. Lise Gotell comments that Ms Mograbee’s colleagues, including judges, saw this as a significant aspect of what unfolded in the now infamous sexual assault hearing before Justice Camp.

We hope by this comment to both acknowledge the gap between racialized and non-racialized communities in terms of knowledge and experience of racism, and contribute to our collective understanding of racism as a critical force in perpetuating and excusing sexual violence.  
Designed by Rachel Gold.