Category Archives: Community News

An Intergenerational Conversation: the 2016 Equality Breakfast


By Professor Emerita Susan Boyd

Several members of the CFLS and Allard School of Law attended West Coast LEAF’s 2016 Equality Breakfast early on March 11th, including several at the Dean’s table. This breakfast is a great opportunity to celebrate women’s equality and to think about working together for equality. It’s also a chance for students, faculty and staff to meet up with Allard Law alumni, many of whom are involved in West Coast LEAF’s work. Of special note this year, the new Women’s Legal Clinic (a collaboration between Allard School of Law and West Coast LEAF) was proudly announced.

This year’s invited speakers were Michele Landsberg, renowned Canadian feminist journalist, and her daughter Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, a labour and human rights lawyer who is now Executive Director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which works on HIV/AIDS in Africa. The lively inter-generational conversation between Michele and Ilana was facilitated by Erica Johnson, a reporter for Go Public and EMCEE for the 2016 Equality Breakfast.

Michele and Ilana provided a passionate “reality check” for those who think or hope that having a Prime Minister who calls himself a feminist and who plans to put a woman on our currency is sufficient cause for celebration. They emphasized the urgency of holding the government accountable and pushing it to deal with the many difficult complex issues confronting women today, including the fact that public childcare is crucial and has still not been offered. These women were not afraid to use the word ‘socialist’ and to name capitalism as a key source of the systemic inequalities facing women that must be challenged. They also noted the disparagement of trade unions that has occurred and linked their demise to women’s economic inequality. Ilana spoke to the global crises facing young women, including climate change and economic inequalities. She applauded the ways in which young feminists and social justice activists fight across a range of issues and take the interaction of systems of oppression into account in their work.

Asked about the Ghomeshi trial, both women were sharply critical of a legal system where it seems that women complainants appear to be on trial rather than the accused man. While being pessimistic about the ability of the criminal justice system to deal with rape, Michele and Ilana were also inspired by the public conversation about sexual assault that has occurred. Michele noted that so many things have changed during her lifetime for the better, and this intelligent public discourse on rape is an example.

The conversation ended on a theme of the importance of finding ways to work across differences amongst feminists. Michele and Ilana emphasized that we cannot afford divisions any longer because the stakes are so high. Although debate and disagreement within feminist groups is healthy and inevitable, it needs to be conducted respectfully and in a manner that keeps lines of cooperation open. Michele spoke to the need for a national women’s organization. Finally, both women underlined the importance of more women being in leadership positions and the responsibilities that come with such positions, including the need to consult with the communities that are involved in the issues being tackled, such as the inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

Overall, we came away with a sense that much has been achieved but so much remains to be done. The need for feminist approaches remains clear, as does the need for feminists to raise children with feminist values and a commitment to social justice. Both Michele and Ilana are doing precisely that.

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March 10: Buttedahl Memorial Lecture with Shelagh Day

The 2016 Paz and Knute Buttedahl Memorial Lecture will take place Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 7- 9pm in Allard Hall Room 104, co-sponsored by UBC’s Department of Educational Studies and the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies.

The lecture will feature Shelagh Day, speaking on “The National Inquiry on Murders and Disappearances of Indigenous Women and Girls: What Is It? How Should It Work?”.

Buttedahl Memorial Lecture 20160

In PDF: Buttedahl Memorial Lecture Poster 2016



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February 10: Inaugural Public Lecture for Janine Benedet


The Inaugural Public Lecture for Professor Janine Benedet, “A Revindication of the Rights of Women”, will be held on Wednesday, February 10th at 5:30pm.

Please see here for details and to RSVP.

UPDATE: Here is the recorded lecture, for those who missed it.

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Remembering Judy Mosoff

mosoff_resJudith Paula Mosoff
June 20, 1947 – December 20, 2015

The Centre for Feminist Legal Studies lost an important member of our community to cancer, on December 20, 2015. Professor Judith Mosoff was a faculty member at UBC Law for 24 years. She played a key role in the clinical program before moving into the academic stream, teaching courses such as administrative law, criminal law and procedure, regulatory state, perspectives on law, disability law, children and the law, and, most recently, legal ethics and professionalism. Judy was a past member of the CFLS Steering Committee and she also organized several of the annual Marlee Kline Lectures in Social Justice.

Judy’s scholarly work on disability and disability rights was known across the country. She challenged the legal system to grant human rights to persons with disabilities but also challenged the human rights paradigm to address disability rights in a fulsome manner. For instance, her article “Excessive Demand’ on the Canadian Conscience: Disability, Family and Immigration” (1999) 26:2 Man. L.J. 149-179 was quickly followed by “Is the Human Rights Paradigm ‘Able’ to Include Disability: Who’s In? Who Wins? What? Why?” (2000) 26:1 Queen’s L.J. 225-276. Other articles on human rights and disability, as well as corporal punishment, were published with her colleague and friend Professor Isabel Grant.

The feminist community will likely remember Judy best for her work on law and mothers with mental health issues. Her well-known 1995 article “Motherhood, Madness and Law” (1995) 45:2 U.T.L.J. 107-142 was groundbreaking for its exploration of how mental health law and child protection law intersect in a way that dramatically affects women with psychiatric disabilities. Together with her chapter “’A Jury Dressed in Medical White and Judicial Black’: Mothers with Mental Health Histories in Child Welfare and Custody” in Challenging the Public/Private Divide: Feminism, Law, and Public Policy (1997), this work is a rare Canadian example of in depth scholarly consideration of how the ideology of motherhood intersects with attitudes about mental illness in judicial decision-making about parental fitness and can result in the legal system severing the relationship between mother and child. Judy had returned to this subject and was working on a second paper when she became ill.

Perhaps the project that meant most to Judy was her role as a founding member of Steps Forward, an inclusive post secondary initiative: Her passion for social justice and for issues such as how to include those with developmental disabilities in educational systems will be much missed. Steps Forward is currently taking donations towards a Judith Mosoff Bursary or scholarship to support future students.

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Celebrating George Fuller

The Centre for Feminist Legal Studies is sad to hear that George Fuller has passed away. He was a loyal supporter of the Centre and our feminist lecture series who cared deeply about law and social justice. His obituary can be found here.

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