Tag Archives: scholarship

Gender & Professionalization Projects: Rethinking Stories of Early Women Lawyers: Mossman at the Berks

Following the IFLS co-sponsored panel at the Berks (Cutting Edge Contributions and Critical Reflections in Canadian Feminist Legal HistoryConstance Backhouse, University of Ottawa LawMary Jane Mossman (Osgoode) Bettina Bradbury, York University (History)  & Shelley Gavigan (Osgoode) both Profs. Gavigan and Mossman have kindly sent their remarks  for posting as blog posts.With great thanks! photo of Prof Mary Jane Mossman

Today: Mary Jane Mossman,  Gender and Professionalization Projects: Rethinking Stories of Early Women Lawyers

 (and Wednesday, Osgoode’s Shelley Gavigan on Not Taking a Break from Feminism:  Reflections on the Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains)

In my research about early women lawyers, there are three intersecting strands of ideas and approaches:

One is a focus on changing relationships between the traditional idea of law as a ‘gentleman’s profession,’ and the nature and impact of gender challenges presented when women succeeded in gaining admission to the legal profession. This strand focuses primarily on developments in legal history.


A second strand focuses on stories about the experiences of early women lawyers, and particularly, how early women lawyers negotiated challenges based on their engendering of the legal profession. This strand requires attention to critical approaches to women’s biography, not only taking account of emerging patterns among cohorts of early women lawyers, but also paying careful attention to individual circumstances, aspirations, and opportunities (or lack thereof).


And a third strand in this research focuses on connections between early women lawyers and feminism. That is, while few early women lawyers overtly identified themselves as feminists, is it possible that feminist approaches to researching their lives might reveal feminist goals embedded in hidden strategies?


My earlier research, published in The First Women Lawyers in 2006, was a collective biography of the first women lawyers, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in the United States, Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia, India and parts of western Europe. My current research now focuses on a longitudinal study of women lawyers who entered the legal profession in Ontario in the seven decades between the 1890s and the early 1970s. This current study begins with the admission of Clara Brett Martin in 1897 (about whom Constance has written extensively), and explores the experiences of some of the approximately 300 women lawyers who were admitted to the Ontario bar up to the early 1970s.

The First Women lawyers by Mary Jane Mossman

Gender and Professionalism

As Ontario historians, Gidney and Millar argued, women’s entry into the traditional ‘gentleman’s profession’ of law in the 19th century challenged men’s monopoly on the distribution of knowledge and authority, as well as creating economic competition. In addition, Christopher Moore suggested that, although the legal profession in Ontario in the early 20th century experienced changes in professional organization, new developments in legal work, and increasing legal specialization, the legal profession never relinquished its traditional ‘patina of dignified and gentlemanly tradition.’ In my research, I am also exploring Michael Grossberg’s assertion, in the context of his study of masculinity in the US legal profession, that although women entered the legal profession, they never effectively confronted the gender premises of law or the legal profession.


In this context, the legal arguments presented in litigated cases routinely focused on principles of common law disabilities for women, male pronouns in statutes and Civil Codes, and significant precedents denying such claims such as Bradwell v Illinois in the United States. Judicial prejudices about new roles for women were also often on display.  For example:

When Mabel Penery French applied to the court for admission to the New Brunswick Bar in 1905, CJ Tuck rejected outright ideas based on ‘the advanced thought of the age and the right of women to share with men in all paying public activities.’ The court rejected her application unanimously. When she later moved to British Columbia and was admitted to the bar, the Law Society records noted ‘the admission of twenty gentlemen, including Mabel Penery French.’

For decades into the 20th century, male lawyers routinely lunched at all male clubs, including lawyers’ clubs, for both business and social purposes. In the 1940s, Eileen Mitchell Thomas, an elected member of the Can Bar Assoc National Council, was precluded from attending the Council’s dinner meeting because it was held in an all-male club in Montreal. A decade later in the 1950s, the Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School welcomed students in September, announcing that there were 935 students enrolled altogether, of whom 903 were men and 32 were of the ‘contrary sex.’


Mabel Penery French

The traditional ‘gentleman’s profession’ of law was also imbued with discriminatory culture towards both men and women who were not middle class, not white, and not Christian (especially Protestant) – and there is some evidence that these views created more challenges when coupled with gender. For example, the first Chinese-Canadian woman was called to the bar in Ontario in 1946, and the first Black woman lawyer was not admitted to the bar until 1960; and the first Aboriginal woman lawyer in Ontario was called in 1976 – while Chinese, Black and Aboriginal male lawyers had been called to the bar earlier. The first Jewish women lawyers were called to the bar in 1929 and 1930, and both women clearly experienced the combination of gender and Jewishness as creating significant problems for them in the legal profession. Indeed, antisemitism was widespread in the legal profession in Ontario, as elsewhere: there are reports of comments by both Clara Brett Martin in Ontario and Myra Bradwell in the United States that are disparaging about Jewish lawyers, for example.


The intersection of professional culture and gender also created practical problems for early women lawyers. For example:

Bertha Wilson, who became the first woman appointed to the SCC in 1982, recalled later in her life how, as a practising lawyer in the 1950s, a male client had angrily told her, ‘I don’t want any bloody woman drafting my will.’ Indeed, as a judge in the 1980s, Wilson regularly advised women law students to be ready to ‘prove themselves again and again in their careers.’ As she explained, it was her view as late as the 1980s that ‘all your life as a woman you are proving yourself … proving … that you can do it.’

Bertha Wilson

There are also numerous stories about the lack of facilities for women lawyers in courthouses, including both robing rooms and washrooms. Even in the mid-1970s, women lawyers appearing in the SCC usually had to robe in the furnace room in the basement. Moreover, women litigators often felt disadvantaged because male barristers routinely engaged in settlement negotiations in their robing rooms. In the 1960s, one intrepid woman barrister (Judy LaMarsh) confronted this challenge head on in the Toronto courthouse – by ‘degendering’ the men’s robing room. Her decision to robe in the men’s robing room resulted in the creation, shortly thereafter, of robing rooms for women.


These examples reveal how the engendering of the gentleman’s profession of law continued to be experienced, in a variety of different ways, for decades after women first gained admission to the bar in Ontario – and there are similar stories in other parts of Canada and in other jurisdictions. Yet, while there is considerable evidence that, as Grossberg claimed, women entered the legal profession without challenging its gender premises, an assessment of relationships between gender and professionalism in law needs to attend carefully to stories of early women lawyers. As Joan Wallach Scott suggested in a slightly different context:

How are those who cross the threshold received? If they belong to a group different from the one already ‘inside,’ what are the terms of their incorporation? How do the new arrivals understand their relationship to the place they have entered? What are the terms of identity they establish?


Telling the Stories of Women’s Lives

In telling the stories of these 300 early women lawyers in Ontario, who represented a very small group within the legal profession for nearly seven decades into the 20th century, there are a few reported cases, Law Society records, and press reports, as well as some detailed information in the archives of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario (established in 1919). As Hermione Lee lamented, however, while biographies include facts, there are also ‘absences, gaps, missing evidence, knowledge or information that has been passed from person to person, losing credibility or shifting shape on the way…’ In such a context, reconstructing the context in which these early women lawyers experienced opportunities or setbacks; made choices about where or how to practise law; decided whether to marry at a time when women were expected to have either a career or a marriage, but not both; or elected an identity as a lawyer – ungendered – all create challenges. Moreover, as Jill Ker Conway argued, we need to attend carefully to these ‘silences’ in women’s life stories. Or, as Carolyn Heilbrun suggested more pointedly, biographers of women must ‘reinvent the lives their subjects led, discovering from what evidence they [can] find the processes and decisions, the choices and unique pain, that lay beyond the life stories of … women.’


Here are some examples of the challenges in telling the stories of early women lawyers.

Some stories of these early women lawyers appear rather amusing at first glance. Probing more deeply, however, they may reflect quite significant efforts to ‘fit into’ the legal profession (ungendered). For example, when Winnifred Wilton arrived in London in 1917, having been called to the bar in Manitoba, to work in the office of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, she gave a report to the British press. In 1917, women were not yet eligible to join the legal professions in England, and Wilton thus exclaimed, ‘I am trying to discover why people think that a woman lawyer must be a freak of some sort.’ Interestingly, decades later in the 1970s, when Laura Legge became the first woman elected as a Bencher for the Ontario Law Society, she later explained that it was important for her to demonstrate that she was not a ‘monster,’ and that she was not going to ‘make a lot of waves.’ In the context of such language, ‘fitting in’ to the legal profession appears to have been a significant concern for women lawyers.


Laura Legge

Another feature of early women lawyers’ experiences was invisibility, not only in the legal profession but also after women began to be appointed to the judiciary. After Mabel Van Camp became Ontario’s first SC justice in 1971, she travelled by train to sit as a judge in a town in northern Ontario. On arrival at the train station, she was unrecognized by the court staff who had a car waiting to take her to the courthouse, and she hailed a cab herself to go there. On arrival at the courthouse, she found everything in an uproar. As the clerk explained, ‘We’ve lost the damn judge.’ Apparently, without missing a beat, Justice Van Camp replied, ‘I am the damn judge.’


Perhaps most significantly, early women lawyers were not ‘women lawyers;’ they were ‘lawyers’ (ungendered). In the US context, Nancy Cott argued that turn of the century ideas about ‘dispassionate professionalism’ were powerfully resonant among women professionals (including women lawyers), especially after suffrage was achieved after World War I. Since formal barriers had been removed, women relied on the professions’ neutral and meritocratic … ideology’ as the best strategy for achieving professional success. For example, one of the most successful women lawyers in Ontario in the mid 20th century was Margaret Hyndman, who gave a report to the press in 1949, stating: ‘Only the fact that I am a lawyer matters. That I am a woman is of no consequence. I make a point of not knowing how many women lawyers there are in Canada.’


Early Women Lawyers and their Feminist ‘Silences’

In the context of second wave feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, women quite suddenly began to populate university law schools, both in Canada and elsewhere. Indeed, although only about 300 women had entered the Ontario legal profession in seven decades between the 1890s and the 1970s, more than 300 women were called to the Ontario bar in the seven years between 1969 and 1975. Women began to be appointed as judges, as tribunal chairs, as university law professors, and as partners in large law firms. After the enactment of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, women as lawyers and as judges began to reshape legal principles and practices. In such a context, the ‘silences’ about gender and feminism among earlier cohorts of women lawyers often appeared puzzling to these new women entrants to the legal profession.


Nancy Cott’s arguments about professional ideology and its attractiveness to women professionals suggest how early women lawyers became ‘lawyers’ – ungendered. As she stated:

The professional ethos, with its own promise of freedom from sex-defined constraints, was released to flourish in aspiring women’s minds…. [Women professionals did not deny the instrumentality of feminism in breaking down barriers to women’s first entry to the professions, but they [accepted] the professions’ hallmarks [of] objectivity, empiricism, [and] rationality, [as well as collegially determined standards…. Feminism seemed to openly conflict with those hallmarks….


In Canada, Sylvia Bashevkin similarly concluded that a schism developed between women professionals (who were usually unmarried and economically independent) and the middle class married women who formed the nucleus of social feminism in early 20th century Canada (and who argued for suffrage based on women’s purifying influence). Moreover, there is evidence that some early women lawyers fully embraced a professional, rather than a gendered, identity. As a prominent early woman lawyer proclaimed, ‘The only battle that needed to be won by women lawyers was won by Clara Brett Martin in 1897. Our attitude was: “You’re a lawyer, get on with it and do it.” And we did.’ In the context of problems finding articles or employment, lack of acceptance by firm clients, courthouses without proper robing rooms and washrooms, and the use of all-male clubs for both legal negotiations and social activities for the profession, such a comment suggests a strategy for achieving success in the legal profession – and the rejection of a feminist strategy that was to become so much more useful when the numbers of women lawyers increased in the 1970s and 1980s.


Some confirmation for this conclusion is available in one response to a survey conducted by Cameron Harvey in the late 1960s, in which Marguerite Ritchie, a woman lawyer in the federal  Department of Justice (and an expert in human rights) suggested that:

You may discover that some replies indicate an apparent lack of discrimination [in the legal profession]; in many cases I have found that women are unwilling to admit discrimination, either because they are trying to conceal the fact from themselves or because they must play the role of ‘Uncle Tom’ and that their chances of promotion depend absolutely upon their conformity to and acceptance of existing patterns.


It is in these ‘existing patterns’ of opportunities and choices for early women lawyers that we may find confirmation of Grossberg’s assertion that women entered the legal profession without challenging its gender premises. Moreover, as Carol Sanger argued, we must understand that ‘women who chose to locate their professional lives in law are likely to [leave behind] stories of piecemeal progress and circumscribed success.’


Nonetheless, there are two reasons for searching for the stories (and the silences) of early women lawyers. One is to identify how, even as they often appeared to conform to the professional norms required to be a lawyer ungendered, they also contributed to changing norms, both in the profession and in Canadian society. For example, Margaret Hyndman, who strongly asserted that she was a lawyer, and that being a woman was of no consequence, was among the influential group of women who pressured the federal government to establish the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in the late 1960s, and Judy LaMarsh, acting within the federal cabinet, helped to make it happen. Even Justice Van Camp’s statement that ‘I am the damn judge’ may have changed ideas about gender and judging in the 1970s. The second reason for exploring the experiences of early women lawyers relates to the contemporary context, in which both professional and societal norms may not ensure equality for women in law. As Scott concluded:

Feminist history is not the recounting of great deeds performed by women but the exposure of the often silent and hidden operations of gender that are … present and defining forces in the organizations of most societies.

Mary Jane Mossman Graduate Scholarship (Deadline April 15)

Mary Jane Mossman Graduate Scholarship for in-program students

[note only current Osgoode graduate students continuing in the program are eligible for this scholarship]

This scholarship was established in recognition of the contribution made by Osgoode Professor Mary Jane Mossman to issues of legal scholarship and education, and particularly as they relate to concerns of women. One scholarship or in exceptional cases, two scholarships,  with a total value of $15,000 will be awarded. The main criterion for this scholarship is a demonstrated potential for excellence in feminist legal theory, supported by a strong academic background and/or other activities or projects of relevance undertaken by the applicant.

Applicants should submit the Osgoode Graduate Program in Law

1. A cover letter addressing the applicant’s eligibility and qualifications, with reference to the award as described above.

2. A copy of the student’s thesis or dissertation proposal submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

3. An updated CV

4. Two references (can be copied from admissions file)

5. A letter from the supervisor describing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the program


Osgoode: Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship (Deadline Monday April 15)

2013 Call for Applications

Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship

APPLICATION DEADLINE:         Monday, April 15, 2013


This scholarship honours the life and work of Helena Orton, whose tragic death in 1997 cut short a distinguished career dedicated to using law as a tool to pursue equality for women, most latterly for women in the workplace.  Helena’s many friends, colleagues and family members have established a graduate scholarship in her name to continue her path breaking work for women through her contributions to legal scholarship and practice.



The scholarship is available to a student undertaking either full-time or part-time thesis graduate studies, at Osgoode Hall or in the York University School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, whose graduate work will explore relationships between law and social equality.  Preference will be given to candidates committed to studying workplace issues of benefit to women.  Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of academic achievement, and demonstrated commitment to equality issues.


Value Up to $5,000.00


One scholarship may be awarded annually; the amount may vary but will be in the vicinity of $5,000.00.


To Apply


The following items must be included in the application:



a)   A cover letter addressing the applicant’s eligibility and qualifications, with reference to the Terms of Award and Interpretive Note

b)   A copy of the student’s thesis or dissertation proposal (for incoming students, taken from the application *; for in-program students, this should be the thesis/dissertation proposal submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies)

c)   An updated CV (for entering students, the CV on file for the admissions application will suffice*)

d)   Two references (taken from the admissions application*)

e)   For in-stream students, a letter from the supervisor describing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the program.

f) Submit all hardcopy applications to the Graduate Program in Law, 4044 IKB – Osgoode by deadline. Monday, April 15, 2013



The Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship

Helena Orton was a LL.B. student at Osgoode Hall Law School from 1980 to 1982.  While completing her undergraduate law degree, Helena was active in local and national women’s organizations working for social and economic justice.  She graduated in 1982 from Osgoode Hall and was called to the Ontario bar in 1984.

Helena’s search for a feminist law practice took her first to Ottawa to Join Aitken, Greenberg, a respected all-woman family law firm.  As a volunteer with the community-based women’s group Justice for Women, Helena was asked to act as counsel in the first equality rights case championed by LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.  Helena successfully challenged the provincial government’s discriminatory spouse-in-the-house rule which was amended following an out of court settlement with then Ontario Attorney-General Ian Scott.

The position of Litigation Director with LEAF brought Helena and her husband Fred Bever back to Toronto in 1987.  During Helena’s six-year tenure at LEAF, the real world of women’s lives was firmly established as the framework for the analysis of legal equality issues.  She was LEAF’s lead counsel in the landmark Moge case at the Supreme Court of Canada, a case which firmly entrenched the principle that spousal support awards in divorce cases must take into account the real economic burdens which divorce imposes upon women in our society.  Helena’s two daughters, Andrea and Gillian, were born during her time at LEAF.

Helena left LEAF to join the Toronto labour law firm of Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish in 1993.  As a labour lawyer, Helena continued to champion women’s rights with a focus on workplace equality issues.  Helena made unique contributions in this area of law through her special ability to weave equality rights analysis into the resolution of collective bargaining and employment problems for trade unions and employees.  As always, Helena brought to this work a relentless determination to make the law examine, analyse and address the issues women actually confront in their working and professional lives.

Helena’s life and work were marked by her commitment to finding ways to make the law understand the lived realities of women’s inequality and thereby find remedies to redress these inequalities.


The Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship was established by Helen’s many colleagues, friends, and family members, to support a graduate scholarship, which will both honour and continue Helena’s path-breaking legal work for women in the area of workplace equality rights.


A copy of work done with the support of this scholarship, whether published or unpublished, will be provided to Helena’s family members.  The support of this scholarship will be acknowledged in any published version of work done in connection with the completion of the graduate degree for which it was awarded.





1)         Eligibility: “full-time or part-time thesis”


The award is limited to students pursuing a “full-time or part-time thesis” degree in either Law or Women’s Studies.


With respect to the reference to a “thesis”, the award is intended to be limited to the research-stream (i.e. thesis-based) LL.M. and M.A., as well as the Ph.D. (formally D.Jur.) in either discipline.


“Part-time” refers to the status a student may have within York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies after the mandatory period of three full-time terms for a Masters and six full-time terms for a Doctorate.


2)            Substantive eligibility threshold and primary evaluation criterion: “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality”


This thematic criterion is meant to play two roles: (i) a substantive eligibility threshold and (ii) an ordinal role in terms of scoring/evaluation weight.  With respect to (i), the applicant’s proposed or continuing thesis/dissertation topic must clearly qualify as “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality” before the application can be considered.  With respect to (ii), this theme is the primary, or overarching, criterion in terms of substantive fit between the award and the applicant’s thesis/dissertation work.


Whereas (i) operates in an either/or way, (ii) is a question of degree.  The greater the extent to which the thesis/dissertation satisfies this thematic criterion, the greater is the scoring/evaluation weight to be assigned to the applicant.


In terms of the meaning of the thematic criterion, (a) “law” includes not only formal law and legal institutions but also legal policy and social policy connections to legal issues; (b) “social equality” is to be interpreted broadly; and (c) applicants are asked to address, in their application, how they see their thesis/dissertation addressing “relationships” between law and social equality.


3)            Secondary evaluation criterion: “preference…committed to studying workplace issues of benefit to women”


As to the ordinality of this criterion, “[p]reference will be given” means that additional weight will be given to applications fulfilling this subject-matter criterion, and candidates are invited to address this criterion if they feel their thesis/dissertation meets this preference.  It is not, however, a threshold requirement for eligibility.


In terms of the meaning of this criterion, “workplace: and, within that focus, “work” is to be interpreted broadly.


4)            Merit criteria: “academic achievement” and “demonstrated commitment to equality issues”


These two merit criteria are to be assessed and given appropriate weight by selection committee members.


As to “academic achievement”, this includes an assessment of the quality of the application itself in the context of the applicant’s stage of academic work.  Also, whereas entering students need only rely on the application on file for their references, in-stream students must, in addition, arrange for their supervisor to provide a letter assessing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the year or years since their admission to the relevant York graduate program.


As to “demonstrated commitment to equality issues”, this is different from the subject-matter criterion of “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality.”  Evidence can include:



  •             Relevant work experience
  •             Involvements in voluntary activity
  •             Writing and research
  •             Participation in social equality movements or related political activity
    • In addressing this criterion, applicants are invited to provide any relevant information on how their involvements in any of the above have influenced their choice of thesis/dissertation work and/or impeded their academic progress.



5)         “Renewable for a second year for a doctoral student”


The Orton Award is not simply an entrance award: in-program students are eligible.  The question arises, however, of what the conditions of renewal are for an in-program student who has already received the award.


“Renewable” means “awarded again.”  The fact of being the current holder of the Orton does not give the holder either a right to automatic renewal or any right to a priority consideration for a second award automatic renewal.  Current award-holders must apply again and be considered on equal terms in comparison with the other applicants.


“Renewable for a second year for a doctoral student” means that a student may not be again awarded the Orton for a second or subsequent year of the LL.M. or M.A..


The situation may arise in which an applicant has received the award for the LL.M. or M.A. and then applies again with respect to the PhD.  “[F]or a second year” must be interpreted in the spirit of the award. No one may receive the award more than twice.  Thus, a student who receives the award for the LL.M or M.A. is eligible to receive the award for a second time for a Ph.D. year, but may not receive it for a third time.


An applicant who currently holds or who has held the award previously does not have to meet a higher standard than other applicants.  As with all in-stream applicants, the academic achievement of the current or past holder of the award includes a contextualized assessment of the progress achieved since the first award.






the one who starts things with words: Patricia Monture

A friend sent along this sad note today:

With a sense of loss I am passing along the news that Trish Monture died earlier this week of cancer. Most of you know Trish’s work. Her Mohawk name means “the one who starts things with words.” She started much and inspired and challenged many. In the coming days, I know that many of us will be thinking and connecting about ways that we can honour Trish’s many contributions.

I don’t have the details yet but I understand that she will be taken home to Six Nations for ceremonies.Feeling this loss today, I am listening to Trish’s voice that has been captured here: click for video.

Her words

Here you can hear her from 2007, on police/Aboriginal relations in Saskatoon.  It’s categorized by Rabble.ca this way: Artist: Patricia Monture Genre: Blues – very accurately.

Here are some articles:  Thinking about Aboriginal Justice: Myths and Revolutions

(These next three links are to Hein online, which requires a subscription).

Ka-Nin-Geh-Heh-Gah-E-Sa-Nonh-Yah-Gah 2 Can. J. Women & L. 159 (1986-1988); Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian Criminal Law: Rethinking Justice (with Turpel, M. E.)  26 U. Brit. Colum. L. Rev. 239 (1992); Standing against Canadian Law: Naming Omissions of Race, Culture and Gender 2 Y.B. N.Z. Juris. 7 (1998)

Her books are Thunder in my Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks (1995) and Journeying Forward: Dreaming First Nations Independence (2000).  She’s contributed to so many organizations, ideas, initiatives – I will not try to capture those things – I will add links to any piece which presents a complete picture of this remarkable woman.   For now, here is a very brief bio from the National Centre for First Nations Governance website:

Patricia Monture is a citizen of the Mohawk Nation, Grand River Territory (near Brantford, Ontario).  She is mother, sister, auntie.  Trisha was educated as a lawyer in Ontario and has graduated from the University of Western Ontario, Queen’s University and Osgoode Hall Law School.  From 1989 to 1994, she taught in Canadian law schools.  In 1994, Trisha joined the Department of Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan as an associate professor.  She was granted tenure in 1998 and promoted to full professor in 1999.  From 2001 to 2004 in addition to her teaching responsibilities, she was Special Advisor to the Dean of the College of Arts and Science on Indigenous Initiatives.

When I was in law school, she came to give a talk – it was after Thunder in my Soul was published.  I remember it quite vividly, such a pivotal kind of moment in law school for me, a first year student feeling more than slightly lost and in some ways, alone.  It was in the Solarium at U of T law school, and I was sitting in the nook of the glass doors on the east side, squashed into a chair with my bag on my lap and looking out over the parking lot.  Maybe it was in the fall, since my mind’s eye fills the parking lot with bright sunlight and a brisk wind.   Here was this brown woman talking to students of colour as though we were the only ones in the room. I can only imagine that for the First Nations students it was that much more meaningful.  She said, “Doing well is the best revenge.”  I think she meant, “at their game”.  It was like being given a very encouraging (but very firm) shove forward.  And then, each time I’m in the Solarium at U of T law, I think of Patricia Monture saying that to us, and let me tell you, that has been quite helpful over the years.