Here is a pdf of the decision in R v Doering, in which Justice Pomerance convicts a police officer of (inter alia) criminal negligence causing the death of Debra Chrisjohn, a woman “of indigenous heritage” who died in London, Ontario, while in police custody. Ms. Chrisjohn died September 7 2016, of a heart attack.
Reading the media/social media reports of what happened to Ms. Chrisjohn (here; here) put me in mind of media reports about the Inquest into the death of Tanya Day, a Yorta Yorta woman who died in Castlemaine Police Station nr Melbourne December 22 2017. For a review see here. The Inquest took place this past August – I read coverage in the Guardian by Calla Wahlquist @callapilla in the Guardian (eg, this).
The decision of Justice Pomerance is highly critical of the police response. She also, in one of the last paragraphs, notes:
 Finally, Ms. Chrisjohn was of indigenous heritage. There is no suggestion that this played any role in decisions made by the police in this case. Nonetheless, it has been observed that indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to stereotyping. This includes stereotypes relating to alcohol and drug abuse. (see the Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls (Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls).. On this point, see also R. v. Barton, 2019 SCC 33.
Thanks to Kate Kehoe (@katekehoe1) who i have followed forever but never met, for reaching out and sending the judgment (which isn’t on CANLII yet).
As many of you know, there are so many scholars who have recognized the connections between police relations with Indigenous peoples in different settler-colonial states. The deaths of Ms. Chrisjohn, and Ms. Day, do illustrate that connection, the hard work that families, advocates and communities are doing to speak out, to mourn, bring these things to mainstream attention, to use law to demand accountability. So just…thinking transnationally.
THURSDAY 14 November 2019 1230PM Osgoode Hall Law School IKB 2027 (Faculty Lounge)
How did the world come to see women as “at risk” for HIV? How did a disease of men come to kill women? Against a linear narrative of scientific discovery and progress, Feminism’s Medicine argues that it was women’s rights lawyers and activists that fundamentally altered the legal and scientific response to the epidemic by changing core conceptions of who was at risk of contracting HIV. In other words, feminists not only changed the legal governance of AIDS, they altered the scientific trajectory of the epidemic. In doing so, they moved resources towards women in the epidemic. Feminists advocated for women to be seen as a risk group for HIV in multiple locations: in U.S. administrative agencies, courthouses across the country, as well as in global governance institutions. The talk will consider the impact of a diverse range of feminisms for its impact on scientific ideas, legal reform agendas, and the distributional consequences of feminist engagement in the AIDS epidemic.
Bethany Hastie of Allard (UBC) Law has just published Workplace Sexual Harassment: Assessing the Effectiveness of Human Rights Law in Canada (available here, open access). Hastie analyzes decisions in workplace sexual harassment at each of the BC and Ontario Human Rights Tribunals from 2000-2018. She’s particularly focused on “whether, and to what extent, gender-based stereotypes and myths known to occur in criminal justice proceedings arise in the human rights context”.
For instance, one finding: “the requirement that a complainant establish that the impugned conduct was “unwelcome” provides the most direct and expansive space for gender-based myths and stereotypes to influence the analysis and outcome of sexual harassment complaints”.
The Report concludes with 8 recommendations. An important resource.
Professor Davina Cooper, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College
Are there good reasons to retain a system in which people have a formal legal sex/ gender? What might change involve? And what are the challenges, risks and benefits of radical reform? This talk draws on a British, feminist, law reform research project, currently in its second year, to explore these questions. It approaches decertification, where the state no longer stands behind people’s sex/gender, from two primary angles: the politics of moving from gender-as-identity to gender-as-network (or something similar); and the politics of prefiguring what the law (and its options) could be.
If you would like to learn more about the research project this talk draws on? See here for the project website, and/or read this fascinating blog post from one of the Researchers, Dr. Flora Renz. It is up at the UK Socio Legal Studies Association blog.
” Part of the challenge of a prefigurative law reform project, is to think through what such options would look like. If we want to imagine and anticipate different ways of dealing with gender as a legal status, one useful starting point may be to think about how other identity statuses or categories are currently dealt with in social, policy and legal contexts. Disability as a category may offer a particularly rich source both for comparison, but also to think about how future changes to gender could be approached from a different starting point. In thinking through these issues I am using disability or chronic illness not as a direct comparison but rather as a prompt for considering some aspects of gender that are less prominent in current discussions, such as gender as a legal category whose intensity and relevance may fluctuate in different times and places.”
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BEFORE THE CANADIAN COURTS: INTERSECTIONS, IMPACTS, IDENTITIES
Friday 8-Mar-2019 Time: 01:30 PM – 03:30 PM Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School, Ignat Kaneff Building RSVP
JENNIFER KOSHAN (CALGARY LAW) & JANET MOSHER (OSGOODE)
Domestic violence cases present unique access to justice issues, especially when litigants are required to navigate multiple legal systems. In Canada, parties affected by domestic violence may face legal issues encompassing numerous laws, including criminal, family, child protection, civil protection, housing, social assistance, immigration and refugee laws, each of which has its own legal processes.
This presentation will explore the extent to which law/policy makers and judges take account of the difficulties and dangers that may arise for these parties when laws and legal systems intersect. Our initial findings indicate that state actors often ignore these intersections or proceed on problematic assumptions about them; they fail to attend to the complexities presented by litigants’ identities, such as their Indigeneity and immigration status; and they tend to minimize the impact of domestic violence on women and children, thereby jeopardizing safety and impeding access to justice