Indigenization & Osgoode

On April 15, 2016, Osgoode held a faculty retreat led by Professor Signa Daum Shanks on Indigenization and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission attended by over 50 full-time and adjunct faculty. I want to share some reflections on this work-in-progress. The guiding principles behind our approach to Indigenization and responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action for Law Schools has been to listen – to our students, our staff and faculty, our alumni, and the Indigenous communities around us – with listening comes reflection, and from reflection, change. Nandagikend is an Anishnaabe term I have recently learned that can be translated as “seeks to know it; seeks to learn it” – this captures well what I hope lies in store for Osgoode – and for me…

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Legal Education, Costa Rica and “Pura Vida”

This reading week, I endured the hardship of leaving the warmth of Toronto for Costa Rica, in order to meet with Dean Alfredo Chirino of the Faculty of Law of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and explore future partnerships between UCR and Osgoode. I was joined by York colleagues Professor Martin Bunch, who leads the President Advisory Council on Environmental Sustainability and Professor Felipe Montoya-Greenheck, Director of the Las Nubes Environmental Research Centre in Costa Rica. Given the significant Canadian connections to Costa Rica, and Costa Rica’s leadership within Latin America in areas of human rights and social justice, I believe this collaboration has great potential. Continue reading “Legal Education, Costa Rica and “Pura Vida””

Reflections from A Roundtable on the Development of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women


On February 6, 2016, Osgoode Hall Law School hosted a remarkable Roundtable to explore issues relating to the Federal Government’s recently announced Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. With the support of the Federal Government, and in particular the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, over 40 experts participated in the Roundtable, representing Inquiry Commissioners, counsel, advocates, and participants, together with 40 observers from Government and volunteer Law Students. The insghts shared were compelling, challenging and constructive. Continue reading “Reflections from A Roundtable on the Development of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”

Launching York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative

This past week, York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative was publicly launched with enthusiasm and energy. The launch includes a new website for the Initiative (which I encourage you to explore). The site has links to obtain more information on educational opportunities for students and community members, information on refugee sponsorship projects, student and other York Initiatives as well as links to each of York’s refugee sponsorship and fundraising teams. The site highlights the sustained engagement and impressive history of the Centre for Refugee Studies in responding to the global refugee crisis, as well as further advocacy and volunteer opportunities as we build toward future activities and projects. Continue reading “Launching York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative”

A Tale of Two Discretions: Trinity Western University and Kanthasamy

Two important Administrative Law decisions came down this month – one from the Supreme Court of Canada and one from the B.C. Supreme Court. Each engages the enduring and vexing question of how to understand the legal limits on discretionary decisions by those authorized by statute to apply their own independent judgment. In Kanthasamy, the Supreme Court quashed a decision by a humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) decision maker involving an application by a child for an exemption to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In Trinity Western University, the Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court weighed in on the ongoing saga of TWU’s attempt to establish a law school. The Court quashed a decision of the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) to deny admission of graduates of the TWU program based on the discriminatory nature of a covenant all students and staff must agree to be bound by. In each case (although the facts and circumstances were very different) the court overturned discretionary decisions because the decision-makers fettered their discretion and failed to consider all the relevant factors they should have. Looking a little more closely at each reveals something important about why we so often get discretion wrong.

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York Steps Up to respond to Global Refugee Crisis

As the Global Refugee Crisis deepens, particularly the exodus from Syria to uncertain European shores, it is moving to see so many quarters at York University stepping up to respond. I have focused on Osgoode’s initiatives and York’s collaboration with WUSC to provide support for refugees studying at York in a previous post, but here I wish to look more broadly at the University’s efforts. York is a large, vibrant and young University, with a particular focus on social inclusion and social innovation.

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Osgoode’s Response to the Global Refugee Crisis

As the heart-wrenching images from Europe continue to shape the refugee debate in Canada (how many refugees should Canada take? How can the time-consuming process be expedited? What are the legal and social implications of these efforts? How will the new Trudeau Government make good on its ambitious campaign pledges?), the place of Universities has come to the fore. Ryerson University partnered with the NGO Lifeline Syria to create the Lifeline Syria Challenge which facilitates private sponsorships through the University and has established a target of raising funds for 25 families (with a minimum threshold of $27,000 each), in addition to volunteer efforts to support resettlement of those families in Toronto for a first year after arrival. The GTA’s other Universities, including York, have joined forces to support this initiative, in addition to pursuing others to bring more resources to supporting refugees (York, for example, working with World University Students of Canada (WUSC), plans to expand the tuition waivers and financial supports for refugees coming to the University to study as discussed in today’s Y-File story).

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The TRC Calls to Action & the pursuit of “Reconciliation”

This weekend, I participated in the Indigenous Bar Association’s annual Conference, this year themed around the pursuit of “Reconciliation” in the wake of the Indian Residential Schools’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. I was asked to share thoughts on what Reconciliation meant, both in the sphere of legal education and to me personally. The Conference was lively, thoughtful and hopeful and I hope its momentum continues to place Indigenous lawyers, law students, law reform activists and legal educators at the forefront of charting a way forward. Continue reading “The TRC Calls to Action & the pursuit of “Reconciliation””

Global Legal Education at the Crossroads


I had the privilege to attend and speak at a landmark conference on Global Legal Education held at Tsinghua University’s Faculty of Law in Beijing this past weekend (though admittedly an unusual place to spend Canadian Thanksgiving). The conference helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of Tsinghua’s Law School (now among China’s very best, and one of Osgoode’s newest global partners), and to mark a moment of significant reform in Chinese legal education, as well as disruption and change in many other jurisdictions. This led me to ask whether there is a distinctly Canadian approach to Global Legal Education? Continue reading “Global Legal Education at the Crossroads”

A Day with “FACL” & 10 Tips for New Lawyers

This Saturday, I was invited to speak at the annual Conference of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL), this year with the theme “Paving the Way.” Each year I attend, the gathering gets bigger, livelier and represents a snapshot of the legal profession’s vibrant future. In addition to participating on an engaging panel exploring the end of the first full year of the Law Practice Program (LPP), I was asked to join the final plenary panel ambitiously titled “60 tips in 60 minutes”! Six lawyers were asked each to offer 10 tips on how to serve clients better, manage practices more efficiently, develop business relationships, increase profile in an increasingly diverse profession, and ensure ethical compliance. I was joined by Ian Hu of LawPro; Phillip Tsui of MAG; Law Society Bencher Jeffrey Lem; Bindu Cudjoe, the Deputy General Counsel of BMO; and Lai-King Hum, National President of FACL and owner of her own firm. I understand the tips from the whole panel will be posted shortly on the FACL site and I found the tips from others invaluable, but in the meantime, in hopes these may be of interest to some who were not in the room, below are my ten tips on enriching personal and professional success for young lawyers. Continue reading “A Day with “FACL” & 10 Tips for New Lawyers”