Former dean appointed to Ontario appellate court continues Osgoode legacy

Close-up photo of judge's gavel on a desk with unseen figure writing on paper in the background

Justice Patrick Monahan has become the third former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School to be appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, joining Justice Lorne Sossin and Supernumerary Justice James MacPherson.

Patrick Monahan close-up portrait
Patrick Monahan

Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti announced the appointment May 15. Monahan replaces Justice I.V.B. Nordheimer, who became a supernumerary judge effective Sep. 1, 2022.

An Osgoode graduate and, later, a faculty member for more than two decades, Monahan served as dean of the law school from 2003 to 2009. He went on to become provost and vice-president academic of York University from 2009 to 2012 and deputy attorney general for Ontario from 2012 to 2017. He was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in 2017.

Similarly, MacPherson was Osgoode dean from 1988 to 1993, while Sossin’s term stretched from 2010 to 2018.

The three former deans share the Court of Appeal bench with 10 other Osgoode graduates, including Chief Justice of Ontario Michael Tulloch (LLB ’89). Other graduates include Justice David Brown (LLM ’05), Justice Steve Coroza (LLM ‘03), Justice C. William Hourigan (LLB ’90), Justice Alexandra Hoy (’78), Justice Peter Lauwers (LLM ’83), Justice Sarah Pepall (LLM ’83), Justice Gary Trotter (LLM ’90) and Justice Benjamin Zarnett (’75).

Osgoode graduates have served at every level of court across Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada, where three graduates are current sitting judges: Justice Malcolm Rowe (LLB ’78), Justice Andromache Karakatsanis (LLB ’80) and Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin (LLM ‘14), the apex court’s first Indigenous justice.

Congress 2023 screens Indigenous-focused films

film camera

A group of female directors will bring their Indigenous-focused films to York’s Keele Campus during Congress 2023 in late May.

Both conference attendees and the general public will have the opportunity to see the works of Ange Loft, Martha Stiegman, Angele Alook and Paulette Moore free of charge as part of the conference’s community programming. They touch on a variety of issues and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including reduced inequalities, life on land and gender equality.

Loft, a multidisciplinary artist, and Stiegman, an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), are part of Jumblies Theatre & Arts’ Talking Treaties project which is produced By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto and screens on May 28. The piece was created to explore the treaty negotiations between the colonizing British and the Mississaugas of the Credit, for the land the City of Toronto now occupies. Afterward, Amar Bhatia, co-director of Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments, will facilitate a discussion with members of the creative team.

“Using archival records and minutes of the treaty negotiations, we see the underhanded calculus and fraudulent means used to acquire Mississauga lands,” says Stiegman. “It [the film] uses sardonic humour as sugar on the medicine of truth to draw people in and engage them in a different way of learning about history so they don’t feel like they are doing homework.”

Alook, assistant professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies brings her work, pîkopayin (It Is Broken), to the screen on May 27. Part of the Just Powers project on energy transition and environmental and social justice, the film looks at the impacts of resource extraction on the community of Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta, Alook’s home territory, which sits amidst the oil sands in the boreal forest. It documents traditional land users’ practices such as hunting, harvesting, and land-based teaching, while talking to the residents about their visions of the future on these lands.

The final films, VeRONAka and Rahyne, screen on June 1 and are followed by a panel discussion moderated by director Paulette Moore, an EUC PhD student, filmmaker and owner of The Aunties Dandelion media organization. VeRONAka is a 10-minute live-action fictional film, both humorous and serious, that explores the true story of how a Mohawk clan mother gave COVID-19 a Mohawk name, personifying the out-of-control virus. Once a person is in relationship with the virus, they can understand why it is here and ask it to leave. Rahyne is a short, animated film about an Afro-Indigenous non-binary teen whose identity is united through two water spirits. Moore will talk with Rahyne’s co-directors Queen Kukoyi and Nico Taylor about how film can help explore concepts of identity and naming. 

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend; community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

York receives $300K from provincial agency to advance research commercialization

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Commercialization efforts for York University research have received a $300,000 boost in funding from Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON). 

The new funding will support the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation and the IP Innovation Clinic at York University to enhance its intellectual property and commercialization services to York researchers and their partners, particularly for increasing research outputs related to artificial intelligence, automotive and medical technology.

Jennifer MacLean
Jennifer MacLean

“With IPON’s financial backing, we will be able to streamline and develop a full-service IP and commercialization pathway for our faculty, students and our partners, and strengthen York’s pursuit of licensing and research partnership opportunities,” said Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president of innovation and research partnerships. “Our goal is to triple the number of disclosures and double the number of patents filed by York students and faculty per year, while supporting licensing and partnerships that move York’s great ideas forward.”  

The fund will help create two new staff positions – an assistant director for the IP Innovation Clinic and a business development and commercialization manager for OVPRI – and increase business and commercialization impact for IP holders in Ontario.   

“This investment is just one example of how IPON is supporting our province’s postsecondary institutions and innovators, by providing them with the funding, tools, knowledge and connections they need to harness the value of their IP,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities. “Initiatives like this are helping our province’s innovators benefit from IPON’s expertise and ensuring the economic and commercial benefits of home-grown innovation remain right here in Ontario.” 

Commercialization of research outputs can mean bringing a new product or service to the market. An invention by a researcher can solve a problem faced by consumers or businesses or help make life easier or more efficient. Commercialization can also extend the positive reach and impact University research has on society by driving revenue growth through sustained market opportunities. 

Pina D'Agostino with an AI robot
Pina D’Agostino with an AI robot

“The IPON funds will be invaluable to help scale the many successes of the IP Innovation Clinic working with Ontario’s startups,” said Pina D’Agostino, associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the founder of the IP Innovation Clinic. “With these resources we can serve many more clients who do not have money to pay for expensive legal fees. We are also able to train many more law students to be IP and business savvy to protect key assets in the disruptive tech economy.” 

York is among 10 universities and colleges in Ontario to receive funding as part of the provincial agency’s pilot project to strengthen Ontario’s knowledge economy.   

For the official announcement from IPON, click here: Intellectual Property Ontario investing $2 million to support innovation and commercialization at postsecondary schools — Intellectual Property Ontario (  

New Frontiers in Research Fund awards $2.4M to York University researchers

innovation research digital AI network
innovation research digital AI network

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Seven projects led by York University researchers were awarded a combined $2.4 million from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) in two of its funding streams: Exploration and Special Calls, announced at the end of April.  

The NFRF: Exploration stream is a federal program that supports high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary research. The Special Call stream in this latest funding round supports research for post-pandemic recovery.  

The total combined funding for the York-led research projects is $2,433,295.  

To learn more about the NFRF and the funded projects, read the announcement here: Government of Canada invests in high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary research to support world-leading innovation –

York-led projects in the Exploration stream ($962,079) 

Rachel Gorman, Faculty of Health
Training an AI to detect medical bias and unmet health needs through critical race and disability theory and community-generated data

Elizabeth Clare, Faculty of Science
The ethical challenge to non-invasive environmental e(DNA) technology  

Stephanie Ben-Ishai, Osgoode Hall Law School
The Debt Relief Project: Online and Low-Cost Access to Bankruptcy 

Zheng Hong Zhu, Lassonde School of Engineering
3D and 4D Laser Metal Additive Manufacturing in Zerogravity and Vacuum for Space Exploration

York-led projects in Special Calls stream ($1471,216)  

Mary Wiktorowicz, Faculty of Health
Governance of One Health challenges: Fostering collaboration 

Jonathan Weiss, Faculty of Health
Mobilizing environments to improve psychological and physiological experiences of thriving in Autistic people 

Jeannie Samuel, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Building equitable and resilient community-based emergency response strategies in rural Guatemala 

York University receives largest-ever research funding grant

Vari hall

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear colleagues,

Today marks a new level of achievement for York University research and our outstanding faculty.

We are thrilled to share with you all that York University – in partnership with Queen’s University – has been awarded a monumental grant of nearly $105.7 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). The funding from the Government of Canada is the largest single federal grant ever awarded to York and is in support of Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society.

As a research-intensive University committed to positive change, the Connected Minds program and its successful CFREF application elevates York’s research enterprise and allows our researchers to push the boundaries of purposeful research even further.

This innovative, new research program will be led by the inaugural directorate of:

  • Doug Crawford, Distinguished Research Professor, Faculty of Health, York University, Connected Minds Inaugural scientific director
  • Pina D’Agostino, associate professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Connected Minds vice-director
  • Gunnar Blohm, professor, School of Medicine, Queen’s University, Connected Minds vice-director
  • Sean Hillier, assistant professor, Faculty of Health, York University, Connected Minds associate director

In addition to the directorate, the core Connected Minds team includes York’s Shayna Rosenbaum, James Elder, Danielle Elliott, Robert Alison and Laura Levin, as well as Catherine Donnelly from Queen’s.

This historic CFREF grant awards York University with $82.8 million and $22.8 million to Queen’s University. When combined with the contributions (including in-kind) from multi-sector partners, municipal governments and collaborating institutions, the total value of the Connected Minds project is $318.4 million, making Connected Minds the biggest York-led research program in the University’s history.

Connected Minds is a pan-University effort and brings together experts in multiple fields, including the arts, humanities, engineering, law and life sciences, located across eight York Faculties and three Queen’s Faculties. Our researchers will examine the ways in which technology is transforming society – dubbed the “techno-social collective” – and will work to balance both the potential risks and benefits for humanity.

Connected Minds will fund 35 strategic faculty hires, three new Ontario Research Chairs, as well as partner-focused seed, team, and prototyping grants, knowledge mobilization and commercialization activities, and an ambitious multi-institutional micro-credential training program with 385 trainees and cross-sector stakeholders. All activities will require an interdisciplinary participation, and projects that benefit Indigenous and other equity-deserving groups will be prioritized.

Learn more about Connected Minds here:

Click here for York’s official announcement:

On behalf of the entire University, we want to express the community’s pride and excitement for today’s news and what this will mean for the future of York research.

Congratulations to the Connected Minds leadership team and for everyone involved in bringing about this significant milestone.

It’s a new era for research and innovation at York University.


Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor

Amir Asif
Vice-President Research and Innovation

L’Université York reçoit la plus importante subvention jamais accordée à la recherche

Chers collègues, chères collègues,

Aujourd’hui, un nouveau palier a été franchi par la recherche à l’Université York et notre remarquable corps professoral.

Nous sommes ravis de vous annoncer que l’Université York, en partenariat avec l’Université Queen’s, a reçu une subvention colossale d’environ 105,7 millions de dollars du Fonds d’excellence en recherche Apogée Canada (FERAC). Le financement du gouvernement du Canada est la plus importante subvention fédérale jamais accordée à York; elle appuie le projet appelé Esprits branchés /Connected Minds : Systèmes neuronaux et mécaniques pour une société saine et juste.

En tant qu’université à forte intensité de recherche engagée en faveur de changements positifs, le programme Esprits branchés/Connected Minds et sa candidature fructueuse auprès du FERAC rehaussent l’effort de recherche à York et permettent à nos chercheurs de repousser encore plus loin les limites de la recherche ciblée.

Ce nouveau programme de recherche innovant sera dirigé par l’équipe de direction inaugurale du programme de recherche :

  • Doug Crawford, professeur distingué de la Faculté de la santé, Université York, directeur scientifique inaugural d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds
  • Pina D’Agostino, professeure agrégée de l’École de droit Osgoode Hall, Université York, vice-directrice associée d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds
  • Gunnar Blohm, professeur de l’École de médecine de l’Université Queen’s, vice-directeur associé d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds
  • Sean Hillier, professeur adjoint de la Faculté de la santé, Université York, directeur associé d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds

En plus de la direction, l’équipe principale d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds comprend Shayna Rosenbaum, James Elder, Danielle Elliott, Robert Alison et Laura Levin de York, ainsi que Catherine Donnelly de Queen’s.

Cette subvention historique du FERAC attribue 82,8 millions de dollars à l’Université York et 22,8 millions de dollars à l’Université Queen’s. Si l’on ajoute les contributions (y compris en nature) des partenaires multisectoriels, des administrations municipales et des institutions collaboratrices, la valeur totale du projet Esprits branchés/Connected Minds s’élève à 318,4 millions de dollars, ce qui en fait le plus grand programme de recherche dirigé par York dans l’histoire de l’Université.

Esprits branchés/Connected Minds est une initiative panuniversitaire qui rassemble des experts dans de nombreux domaines, notamment les arts, les sciences humaines, l’ingénierie, le droit et les sciences de la vie, répartis dans huit facultés de York et trois facultés de Queen. Nos chercheurs examineront la manière dont la technologie transforme la société — appelée « le collectif technosocial » — et s’efforceront d’équilibrer les risques et les avantages potentiels pour l’humanité.

Esprits branchés/Connected Minds financera le recrutement stratégique de 35 professeurs; de trois nouvelles chaires de recherche de l’Ontario; des subventions de démarrage, d’équipe et de prototypage axées sur les partenaires; des activités de mobilisation des connaissances et de commercialisation; ainsi qu’un ambitieux programme multi-institutionnel de formation aux microcrédits avec 385 postes de stagiaires et des intervenants intersectoriels. Toutes les activités nécessiteront une participation interdisciplinaire, et les projets bénéficiant aux autochtones et aux autres groupes en quête d’équité seront prioritaires.

Pour en savoir plus sur Esprits branchés/Connected Minds :

Cliquez ici pour l’annonce officielle de York :

Au nom de toute l’Université, nous tenons à exprimer la fierté et l’enthousiasme de la communauté à l’égard de l’annonce d’aujourd’hui et de ce qu’elle signifie pour l’avenir de la recherche à York.

Félicitations à l’équipe dirigeante d’Esprit branchés/Connected Minds et à toutes les personnes qui ont contribué à la réalisation de cette avancée majeure.

Une nouvelle ère commence pour la recherche et l’innovation à l’Université York.

Sincères salutations,

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Amir Asif
Vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation

York professor co-authors international report on costs, benefits of community-based justice

Judge's gavel and translucent globe marble sitting on a dark grey backdrop

A new report by Professor Trevor Farrow analyzes research from three African countries and Canada, highlighting the benefit of grassroots support in addressing the global justice crisis.

Community legal clinics, paralegal services, social workers and others assisting those who cannot easily access legal help, are a few ways of narrowing the gap in accessing justice that’s prevalent across the globe, says Farrow, Osgoode Hall Law School associate dean, research and institutional relations, and co-author of an international report released on April 21.

Trevor Farrow
Trevor Farrow

The report, Exploring Community-Based Services, Costs and Benefits for People-Centered Justice, is a review of recent studies conducted by researchers in Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Canada, to understand how effective grassroots support systems are in alleviating, if not eliminating, barriers to justice.

The research is part of Community-Based Justice Research (CBJR) project, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre. The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ), based at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, played a lead role in co-ordinating the project.

According to Farrow, the inaccessibility of legal services is a common issue, be it in Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Canada, or the rest of the world. In fact, the United Nations has identified access to justice as a global crisis that – through its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – requires collective efforts and shared solutions, continues Farrow.

According to earlier research from the CFCJ, approximately 50 per cent of adult Canadians will experience a legal problem in any given three-year period. “Like the rest of the world, there is an access-to-justice crisis in Canada,” notes Farrow, who also serves as Chair of the CFCJ. “Law and legal issues are everywhere, but very few people can afford legal help.”

Grassroots-level support can help change this situation for the better, says CFCJ Senior Research Fellow Ab Currie, who also co-authored the report.

“Getting access to trained social workers at drop-in shelters, support workers at community centres, paralegals, religious advisors and many others who work and interact with people where and when they most need help, are primary goals and benefits of community-based justice,” explains Farrow. “The core idea is to find ways to get legal services and law-related help to people in the places that they live and work, and to identify – and ideally avoid – legal problems or to help address them before they get worse.

“Generally, there’s a benefit to having these services in the community and the recent research indicates that the cost-benefit analysis is positive for these community justice services,” he adds. “There are also non-financial benefits of trust, access and awareness when it comes to supporting local help for local communities.”

South African researcher Busiwana Winne Martins, of the Centre for Community Justice, agrees. “Because support workers are close to the community, they understand their problems and socio-economic conditions,” she says. “They share the same geographic space and culture and can negotiate plural legal systems and determine how to straddle the formal law and traditional African customary law.

“People who work in the grassroots justice structures, especially community-based paralegals, are able to translate difficult legal and bureaucratic language into frames that local people can understand and help them to resolve their justice issues,” she adds.

Farrow agrees that managing problems within a community and with the help of community members is often simpler, quicker and allows for community values and interests to be present in the process. “Community justice initiatives can provide exciting opportunities for innovative and inclusive problem-solving that allows for important justice options and strategies,” he notes.

To help solve the access-to-justice crisis, Farrow concludes, “community-based justice provides significant and exciting opportunities for meaningful assistance – in addition to numerous other options and processes, including strong legal institutions.”

With the addition of access-to-justice to the UN SDGs, calling on all nations to work toward equal access by 2030 is a significant move and driver for action, according to the report.

Learn more at News @ York.

Osgoode launches app to aid in immigration, refugee hearings

Close-up photo of judge's gavel on a desk with unseen figure writing on paper in the background

A new online application from a team led by Sean Rehaag, associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and director of its Refugee Law Lab, is designed to equip lawyers with critical legal data needed to improve their odds of winning refugee protections for migrants at risk.

The Refugee Law Lab Portal (RLLP), which launched March 27, provides readily available legal analytics derived from all Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) decisions and judicial reviews of IRB judgments by the Federal Court.

According to Rehaag, the aim of the project – funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario – is to maintain the portal’s legal data so that lawyers can create “targeted” legal arguments, just as a doctor would use targeted medications to treat a patient’s unique symptom profile.

The Refugee Law Lab additionally receives grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Considering the support that public funding provides for both the RLLP, and the lab in general, a crucial goal of the project is to increase the accessibility and equitability of public services like immigration hearings.

“When lawyers appear before decision-makers, they often don’t know who the decision-maker is until they walk into the room, so this can give them a quick way to understand some information about the decision-maker,” Rehaag said.

“If you know you have someone who is never going to grant refugee protection, then your job as a lawyer is to get a review,” he added. “By contrast, if you have someone who’s very sympathetic, you might just want to let the process roll through without interruption to keep the decision-maker on board.”

Rehaag said that subjective decision-making by refugee adjudicators is a reality, but he hopes data provided by the portal will help level the playing field for lawyers.

“From my perspective,” he said, “the key takeaway is that we need to have safeguards for this kind of decision-making to prevent the worst outcomes for refugees.”

Those worst outcomes would include the recent drowning deaths of eight migrants as they attempted to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States.

“This [portal] can contribute to efforts to create those safeguards,” he added, “and help lawyers develop strategies to deal with the subjectivity of decision-making.”

The Refugee Law Lab plans to continue expanding the portal to provide additional information, including cases that decision-makers most often cite in their decisions. Rehaag said he also hopes that the legal data will help stimulate additional research into Canadian refugee law by other organizations.

Unlike high-priced legal databases, Rehaag said, the Refugee Law Lab Portal is committed to keeping the information accessible, offering it for free and in easy-to-understand formats while at the same time protecting privacy.

Rehaag explained that most of the work in creating the Refugee Law Lab Portal has gone into compiling the data, including developing a sophisticated, cloud-based internet scraping tool to continuously extract data from Federal Court dockets.

“I think it’s a good example of taking academic funding for research and transforming that research so it’s more accessible and useful for practitioners,” he said. “Lawyers are not always comfortable engaging with data.”

Schulich instructor earns 2023 Law Society of Ontario award

Close-up photo of judge's gavel on a desk with unseen figure writing on paper in the background

Ena Chadha, an adjunct lecturer teaching power and politics negotiations to MBA and JD students at York’s Schulich School of Business, has received the Law Society Medal for outstanding contributions to the profession and the community from the Law Society of Ontario (LSO).

“On a personal level, the medal represents the pinnacle of my career and I’m overwhelmed by gratitude to be honoured this way,” said Chadha. “The award speaks to the power of law to advance social justice and expose and eliminate systemic discrimination. At its heart, the Law Society Medal inspires me and all lawyers to use our legal skills for advocating progressive equity.”

Ena Chadha close-up portrait
Ena Chadha

In addition to her contributions to Schulich, Chadha also served as an adjunct lecturer instructing administrative law courses at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School – where she had previously earned her LLM while practicing as a lawyer in 2008.

Called to the Bar in 1994, Chadha has been a litigator, lecturer, adjudicator, mediator and public service leader. Throughout her storied career, Chadha litigated civil rights cases at various levels of the judicial branch, all the way up to Constitutional challenges before the Supreme Court of Canada.

She also served as litigation director at the ARCH Disability Law Centre from 1999 to 2007 and as vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario between 2007 and 2015. From July 2020 to August 2021, she served as the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, confronting not only the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, but also escalating bigotry and extremism permeating the prevailing social climate. With passion and dedication, she helped steward the province through an ever-changing landscape by strengthening relationships with government and by championing the rights of marginalized communities. Through her legal activism and extensive scholarship, Chadha has been a strong advocate for social justice reform and addressing systemic inequities to improve the lives of all Ontarians.

“On behalf of the entire Schulich community, I wish to congratulate Ena on being named a 2023 recipient of the Law Society Medal,” said Schulich Dean Detlev Zwick. “Ena’s steadfast advocacy on behalf of social justice reform and her work in championing the rights of marginalized individuals make her a worthy recipient of this award.”

In addition to Chadha, three of her fellow Osgoode alum were also named as award recipients in the same March 10 LSO announcement. Reva Devins also received the Law Society Medal, while Courtney Harris and Tami Moscoe each earned the the Laura Legge Award and the J. Shirley Denison Award respectively. Each recipient will have their award bestowed upon them at an in-person ceremony scheduled for May 24.

Find more information on the latest LSO award recipients.

Osgoode alumni establish $1.2M Davies Fellows Award to create positive change in legal profession

Osgoode Hall Law School alumni, representing Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, presenting a $1.2 million cheque for the Davies Fellows Award

Osgoode Hall Law School and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, one of Canada’s leading law firms, have jointly announced a $1.2-million Davies Fellows Award that is designed to break down barriers to legal education.

The new bursary is created with donations from Osgoode alumni at Davies with matching funds from the law school.

Every year, the bursary will help support one first-year student in the law school’s juris doctor (JD) program who has demonstrated financial need and exceptional promise.

The successful candidate’s personal and professional achievements will include overcoming obstacles related to financial means; racial, cultural, or gender inequalities; mental health; and physical or learning challenges. The recipient will be known as a Davies Fellow.

The award is renewable for the student’s second and third years in the JD program, provided the student remains in good academic standing and continues to demonstrate financial need and exceptional promise.

Osgoode Law School alumni representing Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP present $1.2 million cheque for the Davies Fellows Award
York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School receives transformative contribution to its No Barriers campaign from alumni working at leading Canadian law firm Davies

“We count among our lawyers at Davies, individuals who have overcome obstacles to achieve excellence in the profession, and we recognize that we have an opportunity to expand access to a legal education to students from equity-deserving groups,” says Osgoode alumna and Davies senior partner Patricia Olasker.

She adds that the initiative reflects the firm’s commitment to creating a more inclusive legal profession by removing barriers that stand in the way of remarkable students. “Our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is a core value of our firm, and the creation of the Davies Fellows Award is an impactful way for us to turn our values into action.”

“I am so grateful for the amazing support our alumni working at Davies have given to this initiative, which will see generous alumni donations matched by Osgoode to help reduce systemic barriers to law school for students from equity-deserving groups who will, in turn, change the face of the legal profession,” says Mary Condon, dean of Osgoode. “The creation of the award is a transformative contribution to the law school’s No Barriers campaign, which aims to make Osgoode one of the most diverse and inclusive law schools in Canada.”

As the first Canadian law school to adopt a holistic admissions policy 15 years ago, Osgoode has been a leader in making legal education more open, inclusive and diverse, the dean adds.

Learn more at News @ York.

Osgoode RedDress Week honours murdered and missing Indigenous women

Red dress hanging from tree branches beside lonely arboreal highway, stock image banner for missing Indigenous girls awareness

As third-year law students Megan Delaronde and Annika Butler recently wrote out the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, one fact became painfully clear: the Canadian justice system has not solved the vast majority of cases.

Butler, the co-chair of the Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association (OISA); Delaronde, OISA’s director of cultural and community relations; and a group of other volunteers, wrote out 300 of the stories for OISA’s “RedDress Week” (Feb. 13 to 17), posting them throughout the main floor of the law school along with a number of red dresses. They selected stories from thousands of cases chronicled in a database maintained by the Gatineau, Que.-based Native Women’s Association of Canada.

“There are stories that I have written out that will stick with me,” said Delaronde, a member of the Red Sky Métis Independent Nation in Thunder Bay, Ont.

She and Butler, a member of the Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin First Nation, pointed to examples like a nine-month-old baby girl who died in foster care – no charges were ever laid – or 20-year-old Cheyenne Fox of Toronto, whose three 911 calls just prior to her 2013 murder went unanswered.

“I think a lot of the time this problem stays abstract for people who aren’t Indigenous,” said Delaronde. “One of the things we were hoping to accomplish with our names wall was to show the vastness of this problem and for people to understand that these aren’t just names. Many of them were mothers and the vast majority of these cases have gone unsolved.”

Many of the postings on the wall did not carry a name. “A lot of the names of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) we don’t know,” said Butler, “but we still wanted to hold a place in our hearts for them.”

She noted that official statistics kept by police underestimate the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada compared with records kept by the Native Women’s Association and other Indigenous organizations and communities.

Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association members, from left: Megan Delaronde, Hannah Johnson, Sage Hartmann and Annika Butler.
Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association members, from left: Megan Delaronde, Hannah Johnson, Sage Hartmann and Annika Butler.

OISA’s “RedDress Week” this year was the most extensive in the club’s history. Inspired by Métis artist Jaime Black’s 2010 art installation, “The REDress Project,” Red Dress events are typically held in May to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women. But because the academic year is usually over by May, Delaronde said OISA decided to schedule the event in February.

She said the timing seemed appropriate considering one of the latest reminders of the continuing tragedy ­– the recent murders of four Indigenous women in Winnipeg: Rebecca Contois, 24; Marcedes Myran, 26; Morgan Harris, 39, a mother of five children; and a fourth unidentified woman who has been named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.

“We wanted to ramp it up this year so we poured our hearts into it,” said Delaronde.

The group also organized a trivia night event that raised almost $1,000 for the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Butler and Delaronde said that OISA’s first-year reps Sage Hartmann (Red River Métis) and Hannah Johnson (Secwepemc Nation) also played a key role in organizing the event, with support from OISA members Levi Marshall and Conner Koe, Osgoode’s student government and Osgoode’s Office of the Executive Officer.

Past and future OISA events

In September, OISA organized a special event for Orange Shirt Day (also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), with guest speakers and Osgoode alumni Deliah Opekokew (LLB ‘77), the first First Nations lawyer to ever be admitted to the bar association in Ontario and in Saskatchewan; and Kimberly Murray (LLB ‘93), who serves as the federal government’s special interlocutor on unmarked graves at former residential schools. In March, it plans to organize a Moose Hide Campaign Day. The Moose Hide Campaign is a nationwide movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians from local communities, First Nations, governments, schools, colleges/universities, police forces and many other organizations committed to taking action to end violence against women and children.