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Happy Feminist Friday with Jena McGill!

For our last Feminist Friday of the season, we are thrilled to feature Prof. Jena McGill, a true feminist superhero!

Prof. McGill joined the Faculty of Law in 2011. She graduated from the joint LL.B./M.A. program of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, and then served as a law clerk to Justice Louise Charron at the Supreme Court of Canada.  Jena worked at the United Nations International Law Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, and completed her graduate studies in law (LL.M.) at Yale Law School, where she focused on constitutional law, human rights and equality issues related to gender, sexuality and the law.

Jena’s research centers on equality law and human rights, and particularly on questions related to gender, sexuality and the law.  She has researched and published on topics including sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations; constitutional privacy rights under section 8 of the Charter; Canadian prison policy and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and the Supreme Court of Canada’s equality jurisprudence under section 15 of the Charter.

  1. The qualities I admire most in a law professor are… patience, creativity, humility and a sense of humour.
  2. The trait I deplore in a law professor is….inflated self-importance.
  3. The best time of day for writing is…7-10am.
  4. My feminist heroes are… mother, who has devoted her life to working with and advocating for survivors of sexual violence; Ruth Bader Ginsberg; Abby Wambach; Audre Lorde; Ani DiFranco. 
  5. Right now I am working on…. a re-consideration of the Supreme Court’s section 15 decision in R v Kappas part of the Women’s Court of Canada project. I am also working on caring for my two young sons, which is by far my most challenging and rewarding project to date.
  6. Right now I am reading…Hilary Clinton, What Happened; John Burrows, Canada’s Indigenous Constitution; Maneesha Decka, “Situating Canada’s Commercial Surrogacy Ban in a Transnational Context: A Postcolonial Feminist Call for Legalization and Public Funding” (2016) 61:1 McGill Law Journal
  7. And I wish I were reading…Rachel Giese, Boys: What it Means to Become a Man– I’m hoping this new book will have some useful insights on raising boys to be caring, engaged, feminist men – and the New Yorker.
  8. I would recommend that all IFLS readers read…Dean Spade, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Trans Politics and the Limits of the Law
  9.  A song I love that doesn’t get enough airplay is….I’m really on a podcast kick these days, but I will always turn up anything from Joni Mitchell’s Bluealbum.
  10. If I wasn’t a law professor, I would spend my time…In another life I’d like to be a professional athlete and/or an arts and culture critic for the New York Times and/or a musician.

Thank you so much Jena! We are lucky to have you.

Congratulations to Michelle Miles OHLS’18, this year’s IFLS Vanguard Award Receipient

For your Feminist Friday inspiration, here’s recent Osgoode graduate Michelle Miles, this year’s IFLS Vanguard Award recipient.

Awarded annually since 2014, the Vanguard Award recognizes:

“…a graduating student who has shown bravery and intelligence in bringing attention to issues of importance for feminism(s). The Award winner will have displayed leadership qualities including the ability and willingness to engage in critical &/or constructive difficult conversations.”

Nominated by a long list of folks – including students from every year of the JD, an alumna, a professor and two lawyers from two different clinical programs – Michelle Miles was a summer intern at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, part of the Feminist Legal Advocacy program at Osgoode, took a leadership role with the Osgoode Feminist Collective, and served as the Vice President of the Osgoode Black Law Student’s Association.

She’ll  be articling at a family/criminal law firm in Toronto and continuing to be an advocate for women and vulnerable communities.Osgoode IFLS Congratulates MICHELLE MILES IFLS Vanguard Award Winner Osgoode JD 2018. (quote" "For students in need of feminist spaces, ways of thinking, and leadership, Michelle was a beacon in the storm of law school." Photo of Michelle, arms crossed & hair in brads, in a glen plaid suit (upper 3rd). Osgoode and IFLS logos.

Here’s what some of her nominators wrote about Michelle:

“…always quick to raise the voices of others, to initiate and guide much-need and rarely-had conversations, and to call in rather than call out.”

“….[the] recommendations to combat anti-Black racism at Osgoode are the result of Michelle’s diligent activism, organization and guidance.”

“…compassionate, dedicated, and an utter joy and relief to be around.”

“…Michelle vocally and eloquently defended equity seeking groups and their needs. It is one thing to do so when everyone in the room is nodding with you. It’s a completely different situation when you keep getting pushback from other students, who do not come to the table with the same life experiences as you, and from lawyers, who have a lot more authority and influence than you.”

“Michelle is THE feminist advocate many of us associate with our time at Osgoode.”

“I don’t think anyone is as committed or as patient or as tireless as Michelle Miles.”

“Our profession will only benefit from having a resilient Black woman like Michelle in the lead.”

“For all that she has done in her three years at Osgoode (and it is more than most people know and more than Michelle herself will acknowledge), she deserves the IFLS Vanguard Award.”


A further thank you from the IFLS to this amazing alum of Osgoode.  Pretty sure students don’t always appreciate how much their work can mean for their professors.  Putting this post together provided mid June inspiration through thinking about the hard conversations Michelle pushed for, and the ways her feminist peers appreciated that work.

[If you’re at another school and thinking ‘maybe we could have one of these awards’, here’s a page describing what it’s for – we spent some time thinking about this and some of the details might be of interest to you: ]