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.
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.
YOU. ARE. NEVER. ALONE.
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 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.
Designed by Rachel Gold.