The study of human rights in a legal and socio-legal context includes consideration of the theoretical sources and nature of human rights; examination of rights violations through the particular perspectives of groups that historically have been denied those rights; exploration of conflicting individual and collective rights claims; and the study of enforcement mechanisms and remedies.
Faculty members of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba have significant human rights expertise across the spectrum of human rights including discrimination based on gender, disability, age, Aboriginal status, race, economic condition, sexual orientation and status as an immigrant, refugee or prisoner.
The Law Faculty Council recently approved a proposal that will give student the options of declaring a concentration one of three areas: Human Rights, Aboriginal Law or Business Law. If all goes well, students will be able to have a transcript notation declaring their concentration (if they choose one) by the Spring 2012.
We offer a wide range of courses that have a significant human rights component.
Professor David Asper (BA, JD, LLM) is primarily focused on human rights as they pertain to miscarriages of criminal justice. As a practitioner he led the fight to win freedom for David Milgaard in one of Canada’s most notorious wrongful conviction cases. Professor Asper also provided early consultative guidance in the Manitoba wrongful conviction case involving James Driskell. His graduate research focused on the need for and a comparative approach to mandatory professional education standards as both a proactive and remedial aspect of miscarriages of justice. He continues to conduct research into several areas of this subject matter ranging from historical perspectives to current issues.
Professor Karen Busby’s research is on laws related to sex, sexuality and violence. Her current research is on human rights laws affecting lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-identified (LGBT) people; surrogacy contracts; and child protection laws. She was an active participant in cases and other law reform efforts directed at the recognition of same-sex relationships and has worked on challenges to the bawdyhouse/indecency laws, reform of age of consent laws and gender identity issues. She has worked on numerous research projects on gendered violence including sexual assault, girls involved in prostitution, sexual expression, and the implementation of civil domestic violence legislation. She appeared as counsel in the Supreme Court of Canada in Little Sisters, a case about the discriminatory treatment of LGBT bookstores by Canada Customs. She teaches constitutional law, administrative law and gender and the law.
She was a member the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) National Legal Committee (1992-1997). Currently she is on the LEAF Assisted Human Reproduction Sub-committee. She was on the board of Egale Canada (2003-08), a national organization representing LGBT folks. Professor Busby has been on the Review Panel established under The Vulnerable Persons Living With Mental Disabilities Act since 2001. She served on the board of governors of the Winnipeg Art Gallery from 2000-2009.
She has received numerous awards recognizing her human rights work including the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (2007); Man. Bar Ass’n “Pro Bono” Award (2005); Can. Bar Ass’n’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference “Hero” Award (2004); LAMBDA Magic “Community Changer” Award (2002); UofM Community Outreach Award (1996).
Lisa Fainstein is associate dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba. She is past president of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (Manitoba) and chaired the children’s rights committee of the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties. She teaches family law and property law and has published on equality issues in family law. She has also served on the boards of organizations devoted to environmental issues and women’s safety.
Dr. Michelle Gallant is interested in right violations that occur in the context of the international regulation of economic crime. Her research interests include civil actions to vindicate the rights of the victims of terrorism, rights infractions attendant upon international regulation of terrorist finance as well as money laundering, financial institutions, tax havens and the concealment of wealth. Dr. Gallant’s publications include a text entitled Money Laundering and the Proceeds of Crime: Civil Remedies and Economic Crime (Edward Elgar). She has taught International Law, Taxation, Torts and Compensation Systems and Philanthropy and Law. She holds a cross-appointment with the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice and is a Life Member, Clare Hall Cambridge. She has been a Visiting Fellow, amongst others, at Cambridge Faculty of Law.
Professor Brenda Gunn (B.A. (Manitoba), J.D. (Toronto), LL.M. (Arizona in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy)) is Métis and was born and raised in Winnipeg. She articled with Sierra Legal Defense Fund in Toronto (now Ecojustice Canada) and was called to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Her research and teaching interests focus on the rights of Indigenous peoples in domestic and international law. She has worked with Indigenous communities in Canada, Australia, United States and Belize and has participated in United Nations meetings on Indigenous issues. In 2007-2008 Professor Gunn worked at a community legal clinic in Guatemala assisting Maya Achí people in bringing genocide cases to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. Now a member of the Manitoba bar, she is part of a legal team working on a treaty rights case with a First Nation in Manitoba. She teaches Constitutional Law and International Law and she has taught in Women’s Studies.
Dr. Gerald Heckman has been at the Faculty of Law of the University of Manitoba since 2006. His research interests include administrative and constitutional law, human rights law and refugee law. His recent publications have focused on the influence of international human rights norms on the states' domestic legal systems. He currently teaches constitutional law, administrative law and advanced public law.
After receiving his LL.B from the University of Toronto, he clerked for the Federal Court of Canada. He obtained an LL.M. in administrative law from Queen's University, Kingston where his research focused on the gatekeeping powers of human rights commissions and whether these were compatible with Canadians' right to equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After practicing labour, employment and human rights law for several years at the Toronto office of Heenan Blaikie, he earned his PhD at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. His dissertation focused on the gap between procedural rights guaranteed to refugee claimants by international human rights treaties and the domestic procedural protections provided claimants under the Canadian, American and Australian systems for refugee protection decision making.
Fluently bilingual, Dr. Heckman is an active member of several national associations. He is an executive member of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers and the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals and has been invited to deliver judges' training seminars by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice.
Amar Khoday joined the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law as an assistant professor in 2012. He is completing his doctoral thesis at McGill University. His research explores the ways that refugee law legitimizes and in some ways legalizes otherwise illegal acts of resistance, when such conduct is waged against oppressive regimes and/or normative legal systems that undermine human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Khoday earned his LLM from McGill University's Faculty of Law and his JD from the New England School of Law in Boston.
He has taught law courses at both U of M and McGill, and worked as a human rights researcher at McGill University’s Social Equity and Diversity Education Office. He also recently completed a term as executive director of the McGill International Criminal Justice Clinic. Khoday received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral research fellowship, an O’Brien Fellowship for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, and a teaching fellowship from McGill Faculty of Law.
Khoday is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the state bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He worked as an associate at Shell Lawyers, a progressive labour and employment law firm in Toronto. As an LLM student, he worked as a researcher for the McGill Clinic for the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone. As part of his legal education in Boston, he interned at the Massachusetts Superior Court for Suffolk County, the Civil Rights Division of the Office of the Attorney-General for Massachusetts, and the Greater Boston Legal Services (Health & Disability and Asylum & Immigration units).
Professor Darcy L. MacPherson is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba. Professor MacPherson teaches a variety of courses in areas of both public and private law. His research is equally diverse, covering areas such as corporate law, corporate criminality and disability rights. Professor MacPherson’s service is largely in the area of human rights, particularly as they relate to disability issues. He is both the President and Chair of the Board of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies Inc., a charitable corporation based in Winnipeg that is a consumer-directed, university-affiliated centre dedicated to research, education, information and international development with respect to disability. The Centre has, as one of its central tenets, the social model of disability, which views disability not as a matter of illness or pathology, but rather, something that is built by society. Since society “creates” the barriers (attitudinal, physical and structural), their removal represents an advancement of human rights.
Professor MacPherson is also the Chair of the Steering Committee of “Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities in Ukraine”, a five-year, $4.7 million project whose major funder is the Canadian International Development Agency. The project focused on transformation in terms of policy, educational institutions, and civil society in Ukraine. In this role, he has delivered an address entitled “Inclusive Education: One Person’s Journey”, presented at the United Nations International Conference “National Strategies for Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability: Policy, Experience and Practice”, in October, 2008, in Kiev, Ukraine. As well, he is scheduled to serve as a facilitator in the civil society component of the project. Professor MacPherson will be discussing the governance structures of Canadian non-governmental organizations. This combines Professor MacPherson’s expertise in corporate law with his experience with non-governmental organizations.
In addition, Professor MacPherson is a past presid ent of the Canadian Disability Studies Association, an academic association focused on disability issues, and a member of the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. He served a total of three years on the Association’s Executive Board.
Professor David Milward is a member of the Beardy's & Okemasis Nation in Saskatchewan. He has a BA in History from the University of Calgary, as well as an LL.B. and an LL.M., both from the University of Alberta. He has a Ph.D. from UBC, where he also taught courses for both the Faculty of Law and the Department of Sociology. David also worked as an articling student and then as a research consultant for Calgary Legal Guidance, a legal clinic that provides legal services for indigent persons in Calgary. His areas of specialization are criminal law and Aboriginal law, with a particular focus on Aboriginal justice issues. He teaches Criminal Law and Evidence.
Professor Milward has several publications in international refereed journals that cover a range of human rights topics, including: due process rights in the criminal justice system, victim rights and safety during the criminal process, the rights of Aboriginal peoples under Canadian law, and civil disobedience. His work has been included in the databases and collections of a number of prestigious institutions, includ ing the Correctional Service of Canada, the J.V. Library of the Australian Institute of Criminology, and the Library of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
Professor Anne McGillivray’s research centres on the rights of the child and in particular the right to live free of all forms of violence including corporal punishment and other forms of physical assault, sexual assault and partner (domestic) violence. She has published four books and 50 chapters, articles and government reports on children’s rights, child corporal punishment, child sexual abuse and exploitation, parens patriae and childhood, the governance of childhood, the Aboriginal child in European history, the child as witness, intimate violence, violence against Aboriginal women, elder abuse, criminal defences, law and literature (professional ethics) and others. Her studies of Aboriginal childhood in the Euro-colonial perspective include historical norms of childhood, the fur-trade era, trans-racial adoption, and the Manitoba tripartite agreements and judicial response.
Professor McGillivray has presented her research at conferences and workshops across Canada, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Her articles on child witnesses, child physical and sexual assault, and corporal punishment history and jurisprudence are cited in seven judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada and in numerous other court judgments.
She was a member of the 1997 Canadian International Development Agency Delegation on Children’s Rights, Cuba, led by Senator Landon Pearson. She served on the Health Canada Steering Committee for the Canadian Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, Part II. She has served on the Board of the International Journal of Children’s Rights since 1999 and was Book Review Editor from 2000-2005. She has advised Senate committees, senators, and federal and provincial Justice committees on matters involving children’s rights, section 43 of the Criminal Code (moderate correction), violence against women, and related matters. She was advisor to the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law in its constitutional challenge of s. 43 of the Criminal Code, and on other issues related to children’s rights.
Professor Debra Parkes teaches and researchers in a variety of areas related to constitutional and human rights law, criminal law, employment and labour law, and penal law and policy. Her scholarly work examines the various ways that rights claims are framed, adjudicated, and reviewed by administrative authorities and courts, as well as the public support (or, in some cases, lack of it) for those rights claims.
Professor Parkes is one of Canada’s leading experts on prisoners’ rights and she currently holds a multi-year grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to investigate prisoner complaint systems in Canada and internationally. She is also collaborating with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities on a Community-University Research Alliance grant from the SSHRC, examining legal mechanisms for the enforcement of the human rights of people with disabilities.
Professor Parkes’ research on prisoners’ rights, social and economic rights, equality rights, and rights in the workplace has been published in a variety of academic journals, including the Harvard Journal of Gender and the Law, the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the Temple Journal of Civil and Political Rights, and the University of British Columbia Law Review, as well as in books published in both the U.S. and Canada. She has delivered judicial education seminars on equality rights and is regularly called upon to comment in the media about constitutional and human rights issues.
Professor Parkes is a member of the Manitoba Bar and a past member of the Ontario Bar. She currently serves as President of the Canadian Law & Society Association, a national association of scholars from many disciplines who are interested in the place of law in social, political, economic and cultural life. During her term as President of the Manitoba Elizabeth Fry Society, Professor Parkes led that organization’s advocacy for women’s equality rights through a Human Rights complaint and mediation. In recognition of her human rights work, Professor Parkes has received the University of Manitoba Outreach Award (2005) and the Manitoba Bar Association Equality Rights Award (2008). She was also nominated for a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in 2008.
Dr. Bryan Schwartz is the Asper Professor of International business and Trade Law. He has authored of seven books on Canadian constitutional reform, dealing with issues that include fundamental freedoms, minority language rights, aboriginal rights and democratic rights and he taught the first Charter of Rights course at University of Manitoba law school. He has been counsel: in a number of Charter cases involving rights of disabled persons, including Granovsky (Supreme Court of Canada) and Rollason (which resulted in major law reform of parental leave provisions) and on freedom of expression cases, including Butler (Supreme Court of Canada); in numerous cases involving rights of aboriginal peoples, including about a dozen cases at the Supreme Court of Canada; and in many cases involving provincial human rights statutes. He was also counsel to the Assembly of First Nations in the successful development, with federal officials, of the Specific Claims Tribunal Act. Dr. Schwartz is the author of various academic articles on international economic and human rights, and the intersection of the two.
Dr. Jennifer Schulz is the associate dean of research and graduate studies in the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba. She is also the executive director of the Legal Research Institute and a member of the Centre for Human Rights Research advisory board.
Dr. Schulz's teaching and research interests include torts, negotiation and mediation, and law and film.
Prof. Shariff is an assistant professor of law and also teaches at the University of Manitoba's Natural Resources Institute. She is a member of the Manitoba Bar and the recent recipient of a University of Manitoba Centre on Aging research fellowship for a project on autonomy, dignity and end-of-life decision making.
Prof. Shariff's diverse research interests include bioethics and law; law of contracts; natural resources law; biogerontology, aging and the law; and assisted death and palliative care.
She notes that autonomy is at the foundation of dignity, but the principles of autonomy and dignity sometimes conflict. In instances where life support treatments are withdrawn against the wishes of the patient/substitute decision-maker, dignity is often used as the justification. Under the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, dignity is recognized. However, it is not recognized as a right in Canada, so when legal reform measures for physician-assisted death are being advanced on the basis of a perceived “right” to dignity, this is problematic.
During the tenure of her fellowship, Prof. Shariff will examine the principles of dignity and autonomy to identify how they operate in the legal structure that currently governs end-of-life care in Canada. Her work will illuminate the nature of the competing arguments surrounding assisted death and add to the body of work aimed at facilitating democratic resolution of the assisted-death controversy.
Prof. Shariff is also helping the Centre for Human Rights Research explore the potential for interdisciplinary research projects at University of Manitoba related to water as a human right.
Dr. Short teaches human rights law and is editor-in-chief of the new Canadian Journal of Human Rights. He is a member of PEN Canada, an association of writers and their advocates defending freedom of expression in Canada and around the world. His current research and advocacy interests are focused on ensuring that queer youth have equal access to a safe and equitable education in schools.
Dr. Short’s research focuses on violence in schools, particularly bullying, and examines the social and cultural factors that influence the effectiveness of safe school legislation and anti-harassment policies in regulating youth populations in Canadian high schools. His 2009 study was the first attempt in Canada to gauge how and to what extent so-called "formal" law (legislation, policies, regulations) interact with other, sometimes competing normative orders, such as religion, gender codes, heteronormativity and race in the educational setting. This approach is necessary to understand how anti-harassment and anti-oppressive education and programs are complicated by these other regulating and powerful influences.
Dr. Turnbull (acting dean of Law) researches women’s equality as shaped by laws related to economic rights and obligations, workplace regulation and social inclusion as these impact upon care for dependents. Her primary teaching interests include international and domestic human-rights law, taxation law and policy, gender and equality and women’s rights in a global context. Dr. Turnbull is cross-appointed with the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at St. Paul’s College.
Dr. Turnbull’s work is nationally and internationally recognized. Her 2001 book, Double Jeopardy: Motherwork and the Law, is considered “essential reading” on the topic and has been widely credited for being accessible to lay audiences in addition to academics. Dr. Turnbull is a sought-after speaker for symposia and conferences on the topics of pregnancy, motherwork and new understandings of gender equality.
She joined the Faculty of Law in 2001 after teaching at Osgoode Hall Law School, Glendon College and Columbia University in New York City. She studied in Geneva, Switzerland, before returning to Canada and receiving her LL.B. from the University of Ottawa in 1989. She clerked for the justices of the Ontario Court of Appeal and later earned her LL.M. (1994) and her doctorate (2000) from Columbia.
Dr. Turnbull has been involved in social development at the grassroots level for most of her life. She has participated at the board level in community-health initiatives, francophone daycare, and in the inner-city advocacy of the St. Lawrence Parent Resource Group. She served on the national legal committee of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) from 2004 to 2007 and on the National Association of Women and the Law special advisory committee on maternity benefits from 2004 to 2008. Most recently, she is working with Manitoba Finance as part of the United Nations Platform for Action Committee on the Status of Women advisory group on gender-based budgeting.
Dr. Turnbull is an active member of several national organizations, including the Canadian Association of Law Teachers (of which she was the president from 2005-2006) and the Association for Research on Mothering. She is fluently bilingual and a member of the Centre for Human Rights Research’s advisory board.
Wendy Whitecloud’s primary area of interest is related to Aboriginal law and its affect upon First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. Ms. Whitecloud has taught for almost two decades on Aboriginal law in the Faculty of Law and she is the Director of the Academic Support Program. She also served as a commissioner for the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission which issued its report in June 2001. The Commission was a follow up to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Report of 1991 which had reported upon a wide range of topics related to justice and Aboriginal people. Ms. Whitecloud serves on a number of Aboriginal and non Aboriginal community service organizations which seek to address issues related to justice, women and children.