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Law grad recognized for advancing reconciliation at Queen’s

[Bill Flanagan, Douglas Cardinal and Jason Mercredi]
Jason Mercredi (Law'18), right, displays his Dean’s Key while posing with Dean Bill Flanagan and honorary degree recipient Douglas Cardinal outside Grant Hall following the Faculty of Law convocation ceremony. (Photo by Greg Black)

For many years before pursuing a legal education, Jason Mercredi worked with several organizations dedicated to advancing Aboriginal rights. It was his involvement with Treaty 1-11 that familiarized him with treaty histories and law, and influenced him to study law in the first place.

“I wanted to be in a position where I could make ‘yeses’ happen for Indigenous people, and that’s why I chose to go to law school,” he says.   

During his three years at Queen’s the Mushkegowuk Cree from Winnipeg has honoured his heritage within the law school and the university, making “enormous and transformative contributions.” At this year’s convocation, he was awarded the Dean’s Key for best embodying the school’s community values, collegiality, professionalism and service.

As a Queen’s student, Mercredi volunteered with the university’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Task Force, worked collaboratively with Queen’s housing department to inspire a First Nations housing policy, helped implement more awareness and access to first-term and emergency bursaries, and he also gave guest presentations on Indigenous history. His work with the TRC Task Force culminated in a presentation of its final report and recommendations to the university community on March 21; a historical milestone commemorated with an event that day at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

“Jason has been a key leader in helping to shape the faculty’s and the university’s response to the TRC’s calls for action," says Dean Bill Flanagan. "Ever articulate, persistent and thoughtful, it has been a privilege to work closely with Jason over the past three years, and I look forward to his continued engagement with the law school as he launches what will no doubt be a remarkable legal career.”

“Jason worked extremely hard to help advance the goal of reconciliation by making positive changes at Queen’s,” adds Cherie Metcalf, who worked with Mercredi during her term as the Faculty of Law's associate dean (Academic) . “It was not easy work for Jason to constantly speak to Indigenous issues at the faculty and on campus. Jason dedicated a lot of his energy as a Queen’s Law student to work that was important to making the faculty a better place – not just for Indigenous students, but for all of us.”

Indeed, Mercredi’s time at Queen’s Law was replete with accomplishments. 

In the fall of 2015, he advocated for, and was elected to, the first seat on the Law Students’ Society (LSS) for an Aboriginal Student Representative – a position created to give a voice to First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives within the law school. He also was a voice on the LSS to endorse the Canadian Council of Law Deans’ response to the TRC calls to action, leading to the later creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee within the LSS. 

Moreover, he was instrumental in the drive to allocate an LSS surplus fund to the establishment of the Queen’s LSS Aboriginal Entrance Award, now an endowed fund in perpetuity to support Indigenous students coming to Queen’s Law. 

In his first year, Mercredi and fellow Indigenous student Ashley Pitcher (Law’17) created and continuously championed the Indigenous Law Students’ Alliance at Queen’s Law, now a strong student organization that will continue to be a force in the school. In 2016, he was elected as the law students’ representative on the Queen’s Senate. 

Mercredi organized and presented a number of Indigenous culture-based and issue-related workshops, including a panel on Legal Efforts of Reconciliation in March, and he played a strong role in the organization and execution of the Kawaskimhon Moot hosted at Queen's Law two years ago. In addition, he has been active in endorsing and encouraging the work of staff recruiting and supporting Indigenous students at Queen’s.

“More difficult to quantify is Jason Mercredi’s service to the school as a positive presence,” wrote one of his nominators for the Dean’s Key award. “Jason was never afraid to raise difficult questions or challenge issues, but always ultimately focused on finding solutions and paths forward. Queen’s Law is a better place for his having been here.”

Queen’s Law Clinics keep growing

Increasing number of experiential learning opportunities benefits both students in the Faculty of Law and the Kingston community.

The five Queen’s Law Clinics currently offer students in the Faculty of Law a total of 218 experiential learning opportunities each year. This growth means there are 46 per cent more credit, volunteering, summer, and articling opportunities than there were in 2014.

[Queen's Law Clinics]
The Queen's Family Law Clinic assists self-representing Family Court litigants by completing their documents, helping them negotiate the Family Court process and referring them to other family justice resources. (Photo by Greg Black)

The clinics provide legal services in business law, family law, elder law, poverty law and prison law. Student caseworkers and volunteers work under the supervision of the directors and review counsel to meet the needs of clients who would otherwise have difficulty affording legal advice.

Since 2015, the clinics have operated out of the same building in downtown Kingston and Karla McGrath has served as executive director since 2017.

“Like all good roommates, we do our own thing but we also find ways to share resources, realize efficiencies, and explore what each other has to offer,” says McGrath, who is also the director of the Family Law Clinic.

The biggest growth has been in the Queen’s Elder Law Clinic (QELC), the first clinic of its kind in Canada. The clinic, formed in 2010, had eight credit students in 2014; this fall, 16 student caseworkers mentored by three student leaders will help seniors in southeastern Ontario with a variety of issues related to aging, including files like elder discrimination, abuse and neglect, while also gaining skills which apply to other areas of the law, including planning wills and powers of attorney.

“The aging demographic is no secret. For the first time ever, Canada’s senior population is larger than the number of children in this country. So all services for seniors are in high demand,” explains Blair Hicks, director of the QELC. “Past student caseworkers have been diligent and creative in finding ways to alert the community to our service. Those efforts, and word-of-mouth from satisfied clients, have meant that the number of applicants continues to rise each year.”

Hicks says that the expansion of QELC will mean an even greater opportunity for Queen's Law students to have an impact in the community.

“With additional student caseworkers, QELC can now serve more low-income clients in a shorter time,” she says.

Hicks, a Kingston estate planning practitioner, began as a part-time review counsel before becoming the clinic’s director on a part-time basis in April 2017. As part of the clinic’s expansion, her position is now full-time. 

The Queen’s Family Law Clinic (QFLC) opened with eight caseworkers and in 2018-19 and Violet Levin (Law’20) will be one of 12 student caseworkers at the clinic. Since June 2016, QFLC students have helped 245 people to navigate the family justice system, including completing more than 750 court forms relating to divorce, support, custody, and access.

Levin believes that “the best way to learn is to actually apply yourself in the field and experience itself is not something you can learn out of a textbook.”

Hicks agrees.

“For the law school student body as a whole, every additional academic or summer position increases the number of students who will graduate with a clinical experience under their belt – something that is greatly valued by potential employers and students alike,” she says.

The Queen’s Business Law Clinic has continued to expand each year to the point where the number of student positions has more than doubled in four years. Clinic Director Morgan Jarvis (Law’10) cites student demand, that couldn’t have been met without generous alumni support, for the growth.

This fall, four second- and third-year students at the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic will pilot a new advanced clinical course. The prison law clinic is unique to Queen’s, enabling students to assist inmates in one of seven institutions in the Kingston area.

“This new course will provide an opportunity to develop advanced advocacy and litigation skills through intensive involvement in the test-case litigation practice carried on by the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic and by having carriage of more complex prison law files,” explains Kathy Ferreira (Law’01), the clinic director.

Queen’s Legal Aid, the longest-running clinic, continues to offer the most student positions: 100 in total. 

Queen’s Law Clinics can expand because of continuing support from Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Foundation of Ontario, Pro Bono Students Canada, the Class of Law’81 Clinical Programs Fund, the United Way, and alumni and industry sponsors.

Queen's Legal Aid Director appointed to Nunavut Court of Justice

Susan Charlesworth (Law'81) is heading back to Nunavut, and connecting with another Law alumnus.

[Susan Charlesworth Pond Inlet Nunavut 2015]
Susan Charlesworth in 2015 in Nunavut. "My job at Queen's Legal Aid has really prepared me for this role," she says. (Supplied Photo)
Two years after returning from Nunavut, Queen’s Legal Aid Director Susan Charlesworth (Law’81) is making a return as a federal justice.
 
Justice Charlesworth was appointed to the bench on June 21 alongside fellow Queen’s Law graduate Christian Lyons (Law’02). It’s a role that her time at Queen’s Legal Aid has made her distinctly well suited for thanks to Nunavut’s distinctive court structure. 
 
“Unlike most jurisdictions in Canada, in Nunavut there is only one level of court: the Nunavut Court of Justice,” she explains. “Judges do everything normally divided into two or more courts. In Nunavut, the one court – and its justices – do everything! I will be looking at cases ranging from theft with a guilty plea to murder requiring a jury trial, from family law and estates to constitutional issues.”
This breadth of scope and judgment is something that years of work supervising law students at Queen’s Legal Aid has prepared Charlesworth for. “I love criminal law, but my job here has really prepared me for this role,” she says. “As the Director of Queen’s Legal Aid, I work with law students on files ranging from landlord-tenant issues to small claims court, traffic matters – an entire gamut of issues that will have relevance. This ability to accumulate a wide variety of experience and expertise while working with students and the public in a pro bono context will definitely be a benefit.”
 
The call to the bench came not entirely unexpectedly – “I got a call earlier in June about CSIS security clearance, which gave me an inkling,” Charlesworth laughs – but was still in some ways abrupt. “I got the call at 3:30 on Thursday afternoon,” she says. “They told me I was a judge – the order had been signed that morning. That’s how it happens. They don’t ask ‘are you sure’?”
The announcement has left Charlesworth, "a bit nervous, a bit overwhelmed, but mostly happy and excited". This new position will mean stepping back from her role with Queen's Legal Aid, as an appointed judge cannot provide legal advice. 
 
Sill, she says she is looking forward to the next stage of a journey that began in 2013 with a first trip to the north – and now, almost five years later, returning to help shape its judicial future.
 
This article originally appeared on the Queen's Law website.

Five new Queen’s National Scholars announced

QNS program is designed to enrich teaching and research at the university while also supporting faculty renewal and diversity and inclusion efforts.

Designed to enrich teaching and research at the university, the Queen’s National Scholars (QNS) program has been bringing outstanding, early-career academics to Queen’s since 1985.

This year, five new faculty members will arrive on campus as Queen’s National Scholars, in fields of study from precision molecular medicine to African American gender history to computational neuroeconomics.

“The QNS program is an important initiative supporting our faculty renewal efforts, with a particular focus on newly-developing fields of knowledge,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion), who co-chairs the QNS advisory committee. “The program is also an excellent opportunity to reinforce the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through its recruitment efforts.”

The 2018 QNS are:

Carolyn Prouse – Queen’s National Scholar in Urban Economic Geography
Faculty of Arts and Science

Dr. Prouse’s research focuses on critical urban post-colonial geographies in South America; her work inhabits an exciting space that combines critical economic geography methodologies to explore issues around economic uncertainty, feminism, and racism. Dr. Prouse has a well-established teaching portfolio and is capable of developing and delivering new and interesting topics to students. She was awarded her PhD in 2017 from the University of British Columbia and, most recently, held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto.

[Chantelle Capicciotti]Chantelle Capicciotti – Queen’s National Scholar in Precision Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Arts and Science, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Capicciotti’s research focuses on identification and chemo-enzymatic synthesis of molecules (glycoconjugates: protein- and lipid-bound carbohydrates) that are crucial to a vast array of cellular recognition processes impacting human health and disease. The methodologies she has already developed, and those she plans to advance at Queen’s, are highly pertinent to the fields of disease biomarker discovery and modern biologic pharmaceutical design, both of which are primary goals of personalized medicine. She arrives at Queen’s from the University of Georgia.

Ashwini VasanthakumarAshwini Vasanthakumar – Queen’s National Scholar in Legal and Political Philosophy
Faculty of Law

Dr. Vasanthakumar’s research bridges law, philosophy, and politics. It is both theoretical and planted in the real world of lived experience and policy compromise. Her research focuses on migrants and migrant communities, exploring broader contexts of community membership, citizenship, allegiance, and transitional justice from the perspective of postcolonial states and migrant and other marginalized communities. Her most recent project seeks to understand the rights and duties of diaspora communities: in relation to each other, to compatriots remaining in their countries of origin, to victims and perpetrators of atrocities, and to their adopted countries. She arrives at Queen’s from King’s College London in England.

Laila HaidaraliLaila Haidarali – Queen’s National Scholar in African American Gender History
Faculty of Arts and Science

Dr. Haidarali’s research is broadly concerned with race, gender, and representation in the study of African American women in 20th-century U.S. history. She engages the feminist politics of beauty to examine how mass-media representations and women’s self-styling efforts reflected one strand of civil rights activism that developed throughout the interwar decades. Dr. Haidarali’s work focuses on the rise of a beauty ideal that was defined by women’s brown complexions; she queries how and why an ideal of brown-skin beauty accrued heightened cultural currency during the era of African America’s mass modernization. She arrives from the University of Essex in England.

[Anita Tusche]Anita Tusche – Queen’s National Scholar in Computational Neuroeconomics
Faculty of Arts and Science

Dr. Tusche’s area of research interest is computational neuroscience with a focus on social cognition and decision-making. Her work seeks to disentangle computations that are generic to decision‐making, specialized for social cognition, and their interaction. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a neurally‐informed cognitive model of social decision‐making that enables targeted, process‐specific modulations to foster prosocial, healthy, and sustainable behaviours. Her research uses a highly-interdisciplinary approach that utilizes insights and methodological tools of psychology, behavioral economics, neuroscience (with a focus on functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI), and computational modeling (machine learning techniques, drift diffusion modeling). Dr. Tusche arrives at Queen’s from the California Institute of Technology.

The program provides $100,000 annually for five years for each QNS and is intended to attract outstanding early and mid-career researchers to Queen’s.

Principal Daniel Woolf has identified faculty renewal as a high priority for reinvestment by the university in support of the academic mission. The five-year renewal plan will see 200 new faculty hired, which nearly doubles the hiring pace of the past six years and will result in approximately 10 net new hires per year.

Faculty renewal supports Queen’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by giving the university the opportunity to proactively seek representation from equity-seeking groups such as women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and racialized individuals. Faculty renewal also facilitates the building of Queen’s current areas of research strength, as well as developing newly-identified emerging research priorities.  The program directly supports the objectives outlined in the Academic Plan, the Strategic Research Plan, and various other institutional planning documents.

More information about the Queen’s National Scholar program is available online.

Introducing our new faculty members: Mohamed Khimji

Mohamed Khimji joins the Faculty of Law as the David Allgood Professor in Business Law.

This profile is part of a series highlighting some of the new faculty members who have recently joined the Queen's community as part of the principal's faculty renewal plans, which will see 200 new faculty members hired between 2017-18 and 2022-23.

Mohamed Khimji (Law) sat down with the Gazette to talk about his experience so far. Mr. Khimji is the David Allgood Professor in Business Law.

[Mohamed Khimji]
Mohamed Khimji joined Queen's as the David Allgood Professor in Business Law. (Supplied Photo)
Fast Facts About Mr. Khimji

Department: Law

Hometown: Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Alma mater: London School of Econonmics and Political Science (LL.M.)

Research areas: Shareholder democracy, business law

Hobbies include: Champions League football (soccer), listening to Indie pop music, cooking

Mr. Khimji's web bio
Why did you decide to join Queen’s Faculty of Law?
I have been in academia for a while now. I started at Dalhousie University in the Law school there, and later taught at the University of Western Ontario where I became a chair in corporate finance during my last year. Then the opportunity came up at Queen’s to take on the David Allgood professorship, which struck me as a very interesting and exciting opportunity.
For this role, the Faculty of Law was looking for someone to provide leadership to the business law program and increase its research profile. The opportunity to drive this initiative was very appealing. As an academic, it is an opportunity to go beyond teaching and research and to get involved in administration.
If you look at the major areas of practice, Queen’s is very strong in all of them. This is about taking the business law program a step further.
What got you interested in business law?
Like a lot of law students, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Business law is the default thing to do. It’s easy to default into it because the business law firms tend to have a very structured hiring program – if you just flow through it, you get a job and you get into it.
I happened to like it, so I stayed in it and I went to graduate school. I got a bit lucky…I took a leave of absence from my firm to do a master’s with a plan to leave my firm and do a PhD later. Once I published my LLM thesis, Dalhousie offered me a job – I didn’t need to obtain my PhD.
It made no sense to move to Nova Scotia, but when you’re young and naïve you make bolder decisions. So I packed up my car, moved to Halifax, and that started my teaching career.
How has teaching been at Queen’s?
I very much enjoy teaching at Queen’s and I like the students. They’re very smart and engaged. I think Queen’s students are especially nice to deal with as people. I get along with them very well, and part of that might be my leadership role in the business law department.
One thing I want to do is help the students to be more successful here. I want more of them to get the big business law jobs, I want more of them to be successful when they get those jobs. The learning curve is quite steep and I want them to be as prepared as possible, so I engage with them in terms of where we might improve.
Tell us about your research.
Last year I won a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development grant for a five-year empirical study on shareholder democracy.
This is a big corporate governance issue right now – the extent to which we allocate power to shareholders and management. There are different opinions about what is best for society, what is best for capital markets.
I want to find out why shareholders engage and how shareholders engage, and the extent to which they engage.
What I am working on now is a qualitative study where I am interviewing the different players in the shareholder democracy infrastructure. The interviews are necessary to find out information that is not publicly available.
After this, I want to combine some quantitative analysis with the publicly available information and make some policy recommendations.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I have been in academia long enough where some of my earliest students are now quite senior in the profession. My proudest moment is when I had one of my former students come back to my class to deliver a guest lecture.
This student was a partner in a transactional law practice and he gave a lecture in my mergers and acquisitions class. That was a very proud moment – the student coming back to teach the teacher.
How are you settling in?
My family and I have been living in Toronto. We enjoy the time we spend in Kingston, however. I like the small town community feel. I like bumping into people on my way to work and on my way home from work – I like knowing who my neighbours are.
I find I don’t bump into my students as much as you might think in a city this size – which means I don’t see them in compromising situations and they don’t see me in compromising situations!
The Faculty of Law is great and has been very welcoming. It’s an exciting time to be here with the hiring of seven new faculty members starting in July. We have become more diverse in terms of subject matters and methodologies.
I am also looking forward to working with Robert Yalden again. We will be working closely together as he was appointed the inaugural Stephen Sigurdson Professor in Corporate Law and Finance.
[Khimji office Faculty of Law Queen's]
Walking the halls of the Faculty of Law building, Mr. Khimji's office is not hard to spot. (University Communications)
Any hobbies or interests?
I love football (or soccer as Canadians like to call it) and I cheer for Liverpool in the Champions League.
When I was growing up in Tanzania, you could support one of two football teams. It was either Liverpool or Manchester United. My family happened to frequent this teashop that supported Liverpool, so they became my team. It has been an exciting season – Liverpool reached the final, but then lost quite badly in the final.
I also really enjoy cooking. Right now I am interested in Sichuan cuisine and I am a huge Fuchsia Dunlop fan. She is a food writer who went to the famous Sichuan cooking school for a year. I use her books…I love the spice.
And, of course, taking care of my son who is five months old!

Faculty Renewal

Principal Daniel Woolf has identified faculty renewal as a high priority for reinvestment by the university in support of the academic mission. The five-year renewal plan, launched in 2017, will see 200 new faculty hired, which nearly doubles the hiring pace of the previous six years.

Faculty renewal supports Queen’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by giving the university the opportunity to seek, proactively, representation from equity-seeking groups such as women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and racialized individuals. It will also build on Queen’s current areas of research strength.

To learn more about the Principal’s faculty renewal plans, read this Gazette article. Stay tuned for additional new faculty profiles in the Gazette.

Indigenous art proposal selected by Faculty of Law

Visitors to the Faculty of Law building this fall will see a unique Indigenous art installation.

[Hannah Claus and her proposal]
Hannah Claus showcases her proposal, which consists of wampum belts made of translucent purple coloured and frosted clear acrylic sheets and hung vertically from the ceiling of the Faculty of Law building. (University Relations)

“Words that are lasting,” an artwork by Montréal (Tiohtià:ke) visual artist Hannah Claus, has been selected as the winning entry in the Indigenous Art Commission competition held by the Queen’s Faculty of Law.

This goal of the initiative is to introduce Indigenous art into the Gowling WLG Atrium of the Faculty of Law, and is an important element of the law school’s multifaceted response to the Calls to Action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“This art installation will beautifully represent Indigenous legal traditions and reflect part of the commitment of Queen’s Law to respond to the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report,” says Bill Flanagan, Dean of the Faculty of Law and chair of the commission. 

Ms. Claus’ vision involves a suspended art installation based on wampum belts that will hang from the ceiling in the law school's atrium airy expanse. Made from translucent purple-coloured and frosted clear acrylic sheets, these laser-cut forms will interplay with the natural light that floods the atrium.

“I’m elated to have my project chosen as the artwork,” Ms. Claus says. “Wampum belts are mnemonic aids utilized by the Haudenosaunee and other Indigenous peoples within oral nation-to-nation agreements. They represent legal documents as reflected in this distinct worldview. It seems a fitting acknowledgement, as Queen’s University is located on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.”

This sentiment resonated with the 12 members of the committee who chose the winning entry.

“The representation of wampum in the faculty is representative of the oldest agreements or contracts between not only Indigenous peoples and settlers, but amongst Indigenous peoples as well,” says committee member Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Director of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives. “It’s most appropriate given there are wampum agreements between Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, and so this work is representative of both groups of Indigenous peoples acknowledged as the original landholders.”

Ms. Claus is a visual artist of English and Kanien'kehÁ:ka / Mohawk ancestries and a member of the Tyendinaga Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. She teaches contemporary Indigenous art as a sessional lecturer at Kiuna, a First Nations post-secondary institution, in Odanak, Québec, and her artwork has appeared in exhibitions across Canada and the United States, as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, and Chile.

She is now at work creating “Words that are lasting” with a goal of installing it this fall. Later this summer, Ms. Claus and renowned Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal, a member of the Indigenous Art Commission selection committee, will jointly record a video that will highlight and explore the themes embodied in her artwork.

Queen’s alumnus chosen as inaugural Sigurdson Professor

Faculty of Law announces Robert Yalden (Artsci'84) will fill the new position created by an endowment supported by alumni and donors.

Robert Yalden (Artsci'84), one of Canada’s foremost corporate lawyers, has been named as the inaugural Stephen Sigurdson Professor in Corporate Law and Finance.

[Robert Yalden]
Robert Yalden (Artsci'84), a nationally-recognized corporate lawyer, joins Queen's Law as its first Sigurdson Professor. (Supplied photo)

This new position commemorates the memory of Stephen Sigurdson (Law’84), one of Canada’s most well-respected corporate lawyers. The $1.5-million endowment to establish a professorship in his name was created through the contributions of alumni and donors.

“As a young lawyer, I had the privilege of working with Steve at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP,” Yalden says. “He was an exceptionally talented role model and a wonderful mentor, and I’m especially pleased to be the first Sigurdson Professor.”

Yalden, who graduated from Queen’s with an Honours BA in 1984 before earning law degrees at the University of Oxford (MA), the University of Toronto (LLB) and l'Université de Montréal (LLB), also served as a law clerk to Justice Bertha Wilson of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989-90. He brings a wealth of professional experience to the Sigurdson Professorship, having practised law with Osler for more than 25 years. He is a business law partner and head of the Corporate Department in the firm’s Montreal office, as well as the co-chair of Osler’s Mergers and Acquisitions Group, and has served as a member of Osler’s Executive Committee.

He is also no stranger to academia.

“I've taught courses on business law at McGill and U of T and published in the area since the early 1990s,” he says. “The opportunity to be part of a Queen’s Law community that’s thinking and writing about issues in this area day-in and day-out, and to work with talented students and colleagues who have a passion for sustained dialogue about these questions is something that I know will be endlessly rewarding.”

Yalden lauds Dean Bill Flanagan’s efforts to solidify the reputation of Queen’s Law as a leader in business law teaching and scholarship in Canada.

“Creating the Sigurdson Professorship and the Allgood Professorship in Business Law is an incredibly valuable way to build momentum that will continue to propel the Faculty’s business law program to new heights,” Yalden says. “These professorships speak to a desire on the part of the Faculty, as well as its alumni and friends, to ensure that Queen’s Law is an important contributor to dialogue and debate about pressing issues in corporate law and finance. It’s more important than ever to have centres of excellence committed to thinking about an area of law that has a profound impact on significant parts of Canadian society and on our economic and social well-being.”

The Sigurdson Professorship promises to do that and more. As Dean Flanagan notes, it will build on a robust existing business law program that includes not only the Allgood Professorship, but also the Bader International Study Centre program in international business law, the Queen’s Business Law Clinic, and the Law’80 Visiting Scholar in Business Law program.

Providing students with exceptional learning opportunities

The Faculty of Law's Erik Knutsen is the 2018 recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.

[Erik Knutsen]
The Faculty of Law's Erik Knutsen is the 2018 recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award. (Photo by Greg Black)

When Erik Knutsen talks about teaching and learning it quickly becomes clear that he is passionate about the topic.

It’s one of the reasons he re-designed three Faculty of Law core courses.

For this work and his ongoing efforts to foster active learning and student engagement, Professor Knutsen is the 2018 recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, which recognizes undergraduate, graduate or professional teaching that has had an outstanding influence on the quality of student learning at Queen’s University.

“Erik Knutsen’s dedication to providing students with exceptional learning opportunities is truly inspiring,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “He has purposefully redesigned his courses to ensure that they are engaging, relevant and provide students with the kinds of hands-on experiences and skills they will need in the legal profession. Professor Knutsen is deliberate and purposeful in his use of evidence-based pedagogies and yet he also has the ability to make learning come to life.”

The recognition, he says, is humbling considering the number of exceptional educators across the various faculties and departments at Queen’s. He also says the work wouldn’t have been possible without the “incredible support” he has received from Dean Bill Flanagan, associate deans, fellow faculty members, and Queen’s Law students.

Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award recipients:
2017 Catherine Donnelly, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
2016 Jill Atkinson, Department of Psychology
2015 James Fraser, Physics, Physics Engineering and Astronomy
2014 Stephen Lougheed, Biology
2013 Anne Godlewska, Geography
2012 Lindsay Davidson, Surgery
2011 Brian Frank, Electrical and Computer Engineering
2010 Mark Weisberg, Law
2009 Richard Ascough, Theology/Religious Studies
2008 Bill Newstead, Chemistry
2007 Ron Easteal, Anatomy and Cell Biology
2006 John Smol, Biology
2005 Maggie Berg, English
2004 Morris Orzech, Mathematics and Statistics

In nominating Knutsen for the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, Dean Flanagan pointed to the trailblazing role he has taken in an area of study that has long been resistant to change.

“Erik is on the forefront of rethinking how we can teach law in a way that is more engaging for our students and with better learning outcomes,” Dean Flanagan says. “ He cares deeply about his students’ development and growth, continually finding new and innovative ways to teach them about the law and also professionalism.”

In redesigning three core courses in the Faculty of Law, Knutsen tried to place himself in the position of the students with the end goal of providing them with the skills they need to become a lawyer. He then incorporated as much active learning and student engagement as possible throughout each course to help develop the skills they will need in the workplace.

That meant creating “experiences” for the students.

“So I took all the things I wanted to impart in my courses and thought of them that way, as experiences rather than as didactic learning/information,” he says.

Typically, he divides class time into three sections: a limited period of info delivery; an exercise or group work; and time for feedback to discuss the lessons learned.

Take, for instance, selecting an expert witness in a lawsuit, a key skill for a lawyer but one they are unlikely to experience before actually having to do it.

Traditionally, students would read about some recent cases and discuss it in class. That still happens but under the redesign the students are tasked with selecting an expert witness for a hypothetical case. They are given the CVs of actual expert witnesses and are required to make a selection. Further, they have to defend their expert’s qualifications with relevance to the law and the case and explain why they did not choose the other three experts.

“As a result, the students walk out of there with a totally different experience than had they read some cases about what happened to somebody else and we talked about the rules and reviewed them. They had to apply it and think about why, and it was made to feel real to them,” Knutsen says. “So to me that is taking the learning to a different place. The simple version is I’ve always told my students you have come here to learn as much as you have come here to have an experience.”

This teaching leadership and innovation has extended to other faculties and departments as well, having taught a professional competencies course at the School of Medicine, and contributing to the Faculty of Law’s foundational course for Queen’s Undergraduate students (Law 201: Introduction to Canadian Law).

He is also a founding member of the teaching team for the Masters of Science in Healthcare Quality program, a two-year interdisciplinary blended/online program on patient safety for midcareer healthcare professionals. The program is a joint effort between the School of Nursing, School of Medicine, Faculty of Law, Smith School of Business, School of Policy Studies, and Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition to serving on the program design and approval team, Knutsen developed and taught the course Law, Risk and Healthcare.

This work, he says, has been immensely rewarding.

“Best thing I ever did. Getting out of your own world, an academic silo setting, and learning how other disciplines, other professors and other students operate has been absolutely invigorating because it forces you to challenge your own assumptions about your own discipline,” he explains.  “If I meet them halfway and they meet me halfway, it’s fantastic because as much as they are learning about a world that they haven’t seen before, I am learning about how nursing, medicine, and management operate. It’s fascinating and different.”

More information about the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, including eligibility requirements, is available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

Queen’s Law students raise more than $25,000 for charities

Local and national charities benefit from the ongoing support and efforts of law students.

When they weren’t hitting the books this year, Queen’s Law students hit the rinks, stages, and links to raise over $25,000 for charity.

[Queen's Law Cabaret for a Cure]
The annual Cabaret for a Cure dance and fashion show was one of the highlights of a Queen's Law 2017-18 fundraising year that saw students raising money for charity at a number of events. (Supplied photo)

On March 15, the annual Cabaret for a Cure capped off a year of Queen’s Law Cancer Society (QLCS) fundraising events by raising $17,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. A crowd of more than 400, including guests from the Canadian Cancer Society’s Kingston branch, attended Cabaret at the Grand Theatre in downtown Kingston to see students dance, sing and model in support of cancer research.

“It was incredible to be involved in a group that is not only one of the largest clubs at Queen’s Law but one that captures the attention and compassion of so many students, staff and members of the Kingston community,” said Anu Lalith Kumar (Law’19), one of the co-presidents of the QLCS.

Local businesses donated items for the Cabaret raffle and provided clothes for the fashion shows. The QLCS also auctioned off tickets to Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors games. But the most intense bidding was for unique events like dinner with Dean Bill Flanagan and drinks with Professor Nick Bala.

In September the QLCS raised over $5,600 for the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of breast cancer research and in November the club raised $2,756 for the Movember Foundation, a charity focused on funding research in prostate and testicular cancers, supporting men’s mental health and preventing suicide. Some students grew moustaches. Many more were able to join the QLCS at events throughout the month. These included a basketball tournament, a bowling night, a games night at Barcadia and blindfolded attempts to Pin the Mo’ on (a photo of) the dean in the student lounge.

On Sept. 30, staff partnered with students to host the Fall Classic Charity Event at Loyalist Golf and Country Club in Bath. A total of 80 students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends took in the sunshine and sought to Out Drive the Dean at the 10th hole. The event raised $1,500 for Pathways to Education.

“We were excited to offer fun activities throughout the day,” said Heather Cole (Law’96), Assistant Dean of Students. “Our golfers and non-golfers were very generous with their support.”

Law firms and Kingston businesses supported the day on the links with in-kind donations for prizes like Kingston Frontenacs tickets.

The faculty, the Frontenacs, and the Queen’s Law hockey team put on the Winter Classic on Feb. 2 and raised $500 for the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and Area. More than 100 Queen’s Law community members enjoyed a private pre-game reception in the club lounge and sat together to cheer the Frontenacs as they faced the Oshawa Generals in an OHL matchup.

Lawlapalooza on Valentine’s Day had the Queen’s Law community show its love for the talented musicians in its ranks. The $4,000 raised through Lawlapalooza benefits the aspiring musicians who borrow for free at Joe’s M.I.L.L., a Kingston instrument lending library with over 1,000 instruments.

Queen’s Law has more plans for community outreach, including a summer camp this year on law and leadership for adolescents.

Indigenous alumnus helps right a 133-year-old wrong

A 25-year campaign to exonerate a Cree chief has finally come to its conclusion.

[Pîhtokahanapiwiyin]
Cree Chief Pîhtokahanapiwiyin (“Poundmaker”) was wrongfully convicted of treason in 1885. (National Archives Canada).

They say the wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly. And sometimes those wheels need help to get moving at all.

Blaine Favel (Law’90), recently saw the truth of those words when a lobbying effort he has championed for more than 25 years finally persuaded the federal government to exonerate Cree Chief Pîhtokahanapiwiyin (“Poundmaker”) from a wrongful 1885 treason conviction.

“Poundmaker was a good man and a good chief who took care of his people. He was unfairly convicted,” says Favel. “[The decision] to set history right is the best news I’ve heard in a long time.”

Poundmaker’s story is one Favel knows well. The CEO of Kanata Earth Management (a Cut Knife, Saskatchewan-based, Indigenous-owned producer of organically grown cannabis), is himself a former chief of the Poundmaker First Nation, a former grand-chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Saskatchewan

“I became aware of Poundmaker’s story when I was growing up, and during my own time as chief, I started working with other members of the Poundmaker First Nation to clear his name.”

In May 1885 in the midst of the Northwest Rebellion, the chief went to Fort Battleford in an unsuccessful effort to convince a government “Indian agent” to provide treaty payments to starving members of the Poundmaker First Nation. However, when the chief and his still-hungry men returned to their reserve, they were pursued by government soldiers intent on exacting revenge for some looting the Cree were wrongly alleged to have committed. On the morning of May 2, the troops launched a sneak attack.

Eight Canadian troops died in the Battle of Cut Knife Hill, and their mates retreated in disarray, but Poundmaker ordered his fighters not to give chase. “They could have wiped out those soldiers the same way Custer was wiped out at Little Bighorn in 1876, but the chief said no,” Favel says. “Poundmaker never wanted war. He was a peacemaker.”  

Poundmaker was convicted of treason and went to prison for three years. However, when he contracted tuberculosis while behind bars, he was released after a year. He died four months later. Members of the Poundmaker First Nation never forgot or forgave that injustice.

[Blaine Favel]
Blaine Favel (Law'90). (Supplied Photo)

When the Trudeau government prioritized reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people, Favel and other members of the Poundmaker First Nation doubled down in their efforts to win exoneration for the chief. An online petition drew more than 4,500 signatures, and Favel and fellow First Nations leaders lobbied politicians. Their efforts paid off earlier this year when at long last Poundmaker was exonerated. 

Favel regards the move as a vital first step toward a comprehensive reparations agreement between Ottawa and the Poundmaker First Nation. He hopes a formal apology also will be part of any final agreement. “The government’s decision should be viewed as an act of literal reconciliation and nation-building,” Favel says. “This is our common history, and so we should embrace Chief Poundmaker as a great Canadian.”

Learn more about Pîhtokahanapiwiyin's story and the exoneration in this CBC Radio news coverage.

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