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.
Prof. Busby is director of the Centre for Human Rights Research. Her research interests include laws connected 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; religious freedom and child protection laws. She was an active participant in litigation and law reform efforts on sexual assault, legal recognition of same-sex relationships and challenges to laws on bawdy houses/indecency, age of consent and gender identity. 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. Prof. Busby appeared as counsel in the Supreme Court of Canada in the Little Sisters case about the discriminatory treatment of LGBT bookstores by Canada Customs. She teaches constitutional law, administrative law, and gender and the law.
Prof. Busby was a member the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) national legal committee from 1992-1997 and she remains on the LEAF Assisted Human Reproduction sub-committee and sexual assault case sub-committees. She also served on the board of Egale Canada (2003-08), a national organization representing LGBT folks. Prof. Busby has been on the review panel established under Manitoba’s Vulnerable Persons Living With Mental Disabilities Act since 2001. She served on the board of governors of the Winnipeg Art Gallery from 2000-2009.
Prof. Busby has received numerous awards recognizing her human rights work, including a YWCA Women of Distinction award, and awards from the Manitoba and Canadian bar associations. She was inducted in 2011 into the Q (Queer) Hall of Fame.
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. Gallant is a law professor at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. She is interested in rights violations that occur in the context of the international regulation of economic crime. Her research interests include civil actions needed to defend the rights of terrorism victims, and rights violations related to the international regulation of terrorist financing, money laundering and tax havens.
In addition to her position at Robson Hall, Gallant holds a cross-appointment with the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice. She has been a Visiting Fellow 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.
Gunn developed a handbook on understanding and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that has become one of the main resources in Canada on the UN Declaration.
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 earned his Doctor of Civil Law (2014) and Master of Laws (2008) degrees from McGill University’s Faculty of Law in Montreal and his Juris Doctor (2004) from the New England School of Law in Boston. Working under the supervision of Dr. Frédéric Mégret, Dr. Khoday completed his doctoral thesis entitled “Legitimizing Resistance? International Refugee Law and the Protection of Individuals Resisting Oppression.” With respect to his doctoral studies, he was a recipient of both the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Research Fellowship and O’Brien Fellowship for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. In 2011, he was awarded a Doctoral Teaching Fellowship by the McGill Faculty of Law and taught criminal law during the summer session with Professor Angela Campbell. During his doctoral studies, Dr. Khoday also worked as a human rights researcher at McGill University’s Social Equity and Diversity Education Office. Prior to joining the faculty at Robson Hall in 2012, he completed a term as executive director of the McGill International Criminal Justice Clinic.
Dr. Khoday maintains diverse research interests. Amongst these, he examines the intersections between law and resistance and the ways that legal systems legitimize acts of resistance. His research also touches upon criminal law and procedure, refugee law, public international law, and law and popular culture. Along with Dr. Gerald Heckman and Shauna Labman, he is a founding member of the Migration Law Research Cluster at Robson Hall.
Dr. Labman joined the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law in 2013 as an assistant professor. Her research areas include immigration and refugee law, human rights, citizenship, international law, and jurisprudence. She focuses on the layered influences of law on public policy and government positioning.
In January 2017, Dr. Labman was part of a panel discussion on “The State of Canada’s Multiculturalism” at the 2017 Political Studies Students’ Conference, which was held at the University of Manitoba.
Her doctoral project at the University of British Columbia, currently under revision for publication, examined the intersection of international rights, responsibility and obligation in the absence of a legal scheme for refugee resettlement. From 2008 to 2012 she was a Trudeau Scholar with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Her doctoral work was further supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Liu Institute for Global Issues. She has worked as a consultant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi and with the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, as well as with the Law Commission of Canada, the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, the Nunavut Court of Justice and as a law clerk at the Federal Court of Appeal. She has been a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada since 2004.
Sarah Lugtig joined the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law in 2013 as director of experiential learning. She earned a joint LLB/MSW from McGill University in 1996, graduating on the Dean’s Honour List with Great Distinction (LLB). After graduation, she clerked for Madame Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé of the Supreme Court of Canada. Lugtig taught in the Faculty of Social Work at Memorial University for a year before returning to Manitoba to become director of the Equality Rights Program for the Court Challenges Program.
Afterwards, Lugtig was legal counsel for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. For the past three years, she worked in Civil Legal Services with Manitoba Justice. She has since volunteered on their articling student selection committee, and assigned and supervised work done by articling students.
Since 2008, Lugtig has been a field instructor for the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Social work and teaches a seminar course on Law and Poverty at Robson Hall. She has also coached the University of Manitoba’s team in the Wilson Moot, which deals with equality rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a founding board member of the Legal Help Centre of Winnipeg, she helped develop an inner-city legal clinic that provides placements for law student interns and volunteers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Compared to other Canadian youth, sexual minority youth are more likely to be bullied, feel unsafe and committ suicide. In his 2013 book, Don’t Be So Gay: Queers, Bullying, and Making Schools Safe, law professor Donn Short explores the effectiveness of safe-schools legislation. He draws on interviews from queer teens and their allies to make recommendations for teachers and legislators. This work complements Short’s involvement with the Every Teacher Project, a SSHRC-funded national survey of Canadian teachers’ perspectives on homophobia and transphobia in grades 7 through 12.
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 Aboriginal law and its effect on First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. She has taught courses on these topics for nearly two decades in the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba.
Whitecloud’s passion for matters of Aboriginal law is evident in her involvements outside of academia. For example, she served as a commissioner for the Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission. The original Aboriginal Justice Inquiry explored the relationship between the justice system and Aboriginal peoples, with a special focus on the deaths of Helen Betty Osborne and J. J. Harper.
In addition, Whitecloud serves with a number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community service organizations that address issues related to justice, women, and children.