Disorientation Handbook 2015 (McGill University)

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Title

Disorientation Handbook 2015 (McGill University)

Date

2015

Place

Montreal, Quebec

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https://issuu.com/radlaw/docs/disorientation_handbook_2015_online

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DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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Our voices reject the structures
of domination
and oppression
on which society is based and
challenge
law students to fight
them in the courtroom,
in the
classroom,
and in the streets.
Nous resistons
au discours
juridique
liberal et nous
contestons
les normes
acceptees en theorie et pratique
juridiques
dans la mesure oil
ils maintiennent
et recreent
les relations
de controle et
de subordination
dans la
societe. Nous adoptons des
modes d'organisation
sociale
basees sur la democratie
participatoire
et directe
qui fournissent
les moyens
d'atteindre
l'autodetermination
et l'habilitation
populaire.
We
resist all forms and systems of
domination
such as capitalism
and imperialism,
and reject
2

DISORIENTATION

HANDBOOK 2015

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systeins of oppression such
as patriarchy, racisin,
heterosexisin,
and class. We
recognize and condeinn the
law's legitiinizing
role in these
structures and we einbrace
the full dignity of all huinan
beings.
Ce livret traite de coininent
nous pouvons nous entraider a


co1n1nun1quer et quest1onner,
nous inspirer vers une realite
juridique plus radicale. C'est
une expression collective
de dissidence et un cri de
rallieinent a l'action. C'est un
acte de resistance.
This handbook is a work in
progress and an act of dissent.
This handbook ,.vas compiled by Kate Forrest and Sydney Warshaw on behalf of
RadLaw. Many thanks are due to our editors: Jacob Schweda, Leah Gardner , Deborah
Guterman , Cee Strauss, and Katie Spillane. We encourage you to share this handbook
v.rith friends. Howe, 1er, please do not reproduce any of the artic les v.rithout permission
of the author, which can be sought by contacting RadLaw at radla,.v.mcgill@gmail.
com.
3

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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EY

DSYO
'T
E
I
CL SS:
hat's Left
Out of Blacks Law
Other
a

Definitions

Thi s list wa., orii:,~nallycompi led by an w,icle ntilied author for a 2006 RacUaw
pu blication, was upclatt:cl in 20 13 by Katie Spi llane, and wa., forther updated
by Kate H,n-est in 2014·. i'vlost or the dc fini6cJns come fi'o m "Ddi 11i6ons
for the Revolut ion" (available at: http:/ hvww .colo ursofrc:si:,;1.a.n<:c.
org/
defini6ons- for-t hc-rcvo lut ion), Col ours or Rt-sistance (a nc>w-dclimc:L
grassrooLs network of people who worked to devclop anti ..racist, m ulLirac iaJ
po litics in the rnovcmc nt against global c:apital i.sm), and tJ1e "Gender
G los.,ar y" compiled by Qwo -Li Dri skell or D ragonfly Press (htt p ://
dntgo nflyrisingwearetl1eo nes.infc1/Gcnde r GlossaryDragu nAy.pclQ.

Accessibility
Th e stat e of be ing open to 1neaningful
part icipat ion by all people, in particular peop le
\.vho se participation is usually limit ed by oppression
of some kind. Accessibility in general mean s being
free of barr iers (\•vhich can be placed by the group
ii1advertently or advertently ) and free of linut s to
participat ion once present (e.g. a university vvith a
Euro centri c curr iculum is not accessible to Nat ive
students even if there is fund ing for them to get
there ). Som etime s the term " accessibility" is used
,\rith specific reference to the need s of peop le w-ith
disabilities. A space cannot be de emed "access ible"
in this sense if the atmo sph ere is ab leist, even if
measur es are in place .

An Anti-Racist
4

for

(As app lied to \•vhite people ) An anti -ra cist is a
person \•vho mak es a conscious choi ce to act to
cha llenge so1ne aspec t of the white supre1nacy
syste1n, includii1g her/h is own white p rivilege, as
\,veil as son1e for1n of oppression against people
of color. (As appl ied to people of color): some use
the tern1 ant-i-racist. Oth ers use synony1ns such as
fi·eedon1 fighter, act ivist, warrior, liberation fighter;
political prisoner, prisoner of ,var, sister, broth er,
etc. 111pra ctice, it is diffictilt for an activist of color
not to be an anti -raci st activist, sinc e the strugg le
against ra cial oppress ion int ersects with every issue
affecti11gpeople of color.

Classism
Refers to the ideological belief that p eople deserve
the privi lege or 01)pression of tl1eir class ba sed on
the ir "1nerit ", "social stat us", level of education,
job, \•vork etluc , etc. Classism also refers to the
social dynan1ic of pr ivilege, or elitism . Access to
knowl edge or to ed ucation are examples of elitism
e1nbedded in class privi lege.

Contingent

Workers

Are people who are emp loyed based on the needs

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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of the emp loyer, \vitho ut any job secur ity or long ter 1n comm itn1ents. I ncludes part -time ,,vorkers,
ten1porary and contract wor kers, and, in some
cases, self -emp loyed ,-vorkers and independent
cont r actors.

Economic

Justice

Is a convict ion that econonuc po licies must res ult in
benefits that are distr ibuted equa lly across inco rne
and rac ial lines; that jobs created by state and local
tax incentives 1nust go to local people and taxpayers;
and that the health, natural resources, and the
culture of the con1munity n1ust be protected .

Environmental

Justice

I s about equal and fair access to a healthy
environn1ent; equal enforcen1ent of environmental
regu lations; and a movement
to protect
commun ities of colour and poor comm unities fi·om
e11vironn1ental hazards .

Environmental

Racism

Refers to rac ial discrim ination in environ1nenta l
po licy-mak ing and the enforcement of regu lations
and laws; tl1e de liberate targeting of commun ities
of colour for toxic ,,vaste facilities; the official
sanct ion ing of the life tl1reaten ing presence of
poiso ns and po llutants in our comrr 1unit ies; and
the history of excluding peop le of colour from tl1e
leaders hip of tl1e environmental n1ovement.

Gender
Characteristics
of masculinity and fem ininity
learned or chosen . A person's assigned sex does not
always n1atch their gender and n1ost people disp lay
tr aits of more than one gender .

Genderqueer
Son1eone ,,vho "queers" gender. Someone ,vho
doesn't identify as either a man or a v.,on1an, but
a different gender entire ly; ,,vho identifies as both a
man and a ,,von1an; or who creates the ir o,,vn gender
outs ide of binary concepts . Also, someone v.1ho
identifies both the ir gender identity and sexuality
as contrary to "acceptable" heterosexual, gender
dichotomous construct ions.

Globalization
A term

used

to refer

to the expans ion

of

econonues beyond nat ional bo rders, in partic ula1~
the expans ion of production by a firm to many
countr ies arou11d the wor ld . T his has ,veakened
nations' ab ility to contro l corporate practices, set
reg1.ilati ons, or manage domestic economic po licy.
I t has also weakened the ab ility of ,vor kers to fight
for better wages and working conditions !i·om fea r
that employers may relocate to other areas .

Heterosexism
The be lief in the inherent superiority
of
heterosexual ity and thereby its rights to donunance .
T his tern1 desc ribes an ideo logical systen1 and
patterns of instit utionalized oppress ion wh ich deny,
den igrate, and stigmatize any non -heterosexual
for1n of behav ior, identity, relat ionslup, or
community.

Homophobia
The fear and persecution of queer peop le. R ooted
in a desire to ma inta u1 the heterosexual social order,
,~rluch re lies on oppressive gender roles.

Institutional

Violence

The use of pov. er to cause harm (i.e. violation of
human rights ) and to enforce structural oppress ion .
1

Internalized

Racism

1. T he po ison of racism seep ing into the psyches of
peop le of color, u11tilpeople of color bel ieve about
the1nselves ,,vhat ,vh ites bel ieve abo ut them -- that
they are infer ior to ,,vlutes;
2. The behav ior of one pe rson of color to,~1ard
anothe r that stems fi·o1n th is psychic poison ing.
Often called "inter -rac ial host ility;" and
3. T he acceptance by persons of color of
Eurocentr ic values.

Internalized

Sexism

Refers to the "internalization"
socializat ion and sexism .

Law/Legal

of gender

role

Collective

A la,~, collect ive is a non -hierarchical organ ization
,~ 1luch prov ides legal services
to a comn1un ity or
com1nu1uties in need . Th ese services can range from
trad itional crinunal defense or advocacy to legal
support or law-re lated workshops . Contemporary
law collect ives are usua lly 11on-la,vyer -cente red,

5

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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ru11 along anarchist pr incip les, and work as part of
the movement for social j ustice.

Legal Solidarity
A strategy that uses group decision -mak ing and
action to protect peop le being he ld in the legal
system . J ails and courts are designed to 1nake some
partic ipants feel po, ,verless wh ile empo,ver ing
others . By using solidar ity tactics - ma king legal
dec isions as a group, acting in un ity ,vith each other,
and 1naking a con1mitment to safeguarding every
arrestee's in terests - participants can gain more
contro l over what happens in jails and courts . Lega l
solidar ity has been used effectively for decades in
the civil rights, peace, enviro nn1ental, and anti corporate globalizat ion move n1ents, among othe rs.

Oppression
O ppress ion refers to the powe r and effects of
domination . T here are many for 1ns of (often )
inter locking oppress ions : racisn1, sexism, classism,
heterosex ism, an ti-Sen1itism, able ism, age ism, etc .
ill egitimate institutionalized power allo,vs certain
'groups' to confer illegitimate dominance over
other 'groups', and th is do1ninance is 1na inta ined
and perpetuated at an institutiona l level.

Popular

Literacy

I s a method of ed ucation that begins by process ing
peop le's lived e:>..rper
iences, collectively and critically
evaluates that experience, draws connections to
root causes of prob lems, and deve lops solu tions .
D istinct fro1n education that views pa r ticipants as
"b lank pages" and teachers as "experts ."

Power
1. Po,ver is contro l of: or access to, those institutions
sanct ioned by the state.
2. Power is the abi lity to define real ity and to
convince oth er peop le that it is their defi1ut ion .
3. Po,~;er is o,,vnersh ip and control of th e maj or
resources of a sta te; and the capac ity to ma ke and
enforce dec isions based on this o,,vnersh ip and
contro l.
4. Po,,ver is the capac ity of a group of peop le to
dec ide what they want and to act in an orga1uzed
,,vay to get it .
5. I n terms of an ind ividual, power is the capac ity
to act.

6

Privilege
Unearned social po,ver accorded by the for ma l and
informa l institutions of society to ALL members
of a do n1inant group (e.g. wh ite pr ivilege, 1nale
p rivilege, etc. ). Privilege is usually invisible to those
,,vho have it because v.re're taught not to see it, but it
neverthe less puts the1n at an advantage over those
,~rho do not have it.

Queer
A term used in a nt unbe r of differen t ways; as
an 'un1brella' ter n1 for lesb ia11, gay, bisexual,
tr ansgender, intersex, genclerquee r and othe r
nonheterosexua l identities. I t is also used as a ,vay
of rec laiming and co-opt ing a once negat ive term;
to re 1nove queer as a tern1 of abuse. Th e term queer
also alludes to a fluidity of gender and sexual ity
and a rejection of socially irnposed categories.

Race
A spec ious classifica tion of human be ings wh ich
assigns human ,vorth and social status using
'white' (usually) as the model of humanity and the
he ight of human ach ievement for the purpose of
estab lishing and maintaining pr ivilege and po, ,ver.

Racism
R acism is race prej udice plu s po ,,ver. R ac ism
is not pr imarily a set of negative attitudes or
behaviours on the part of individual ,vh ites. T hese
negat ive att itudes and behav iours are gr ievous and
s01net i1nes fatal, but they are in fact symptoms of a
system whose purpose is not 1nere ly to 1nake peop le
of color feel badly but to ma inta in wh ite power and
cont r ol.

Reverse

Racism

A term created and used by ,,vlute people to deny
their ,vhite privilege . Those in den ial use the
te r m reverse rac isn1 to refer to host ile behav ior by
peop le of color toward ,vh ites, and to affir 1native
action po licies ,vh ich allegedly give 'preferent ial
treatn1ent' to people of color over ,,vhites. T he re is
no such thing as "reverse rac ism" .

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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Reverse

Sexism

White Privilege

Perpetuates a systen1 of patr iarchy ,,vhere men ho ld
power and pr ivilege and women are subordinate
to n1en.

v\7h ite priv ilege is a lustor ically based, institutiona lly
perpetuated system of:
1. Pr eferential p rejudice for and treatment of wh ite
peop le based solely on the ir ski11 color and/ or
ancestral origin from Europe; and
2. E xen1ption !i·om racial and/ or national
oppression based on skin color and/ or ancest ral
or i6rin from Africa, Asia, ilie An1ericas and the
Arab wor ld .

Tokenism

White Supremacy

Presence \vitho ut mean ingfu l part1c1pation . For
examp le, a superficia l invitat ion for participation
,,vithout ongoing dialogue and support, handp icked
representatives ,,vho are e>..rpectedto spea k for tl1e
vvhole (socially opp ressed) gro up. Token ism is
often used as a band -aid solution to he lp th e group
in1prove its image .

v\'hite supremacy
is a historically based,
institut ional ly perpetuated system of exploitation
and oppress ion of conti11ents, nat ions, and peop les
of color by ,,vlute groups and nations, for the
pu rpose of mainta ining a11ddefending a systerr1of
,,vealth, po ,,ver, and pr ivilege.

Tern1 created to deny sexism . Fails to ackno,vledge
that the ,,vord sexism exists because ,,ve live in a
patriarchal society where 1nen are privi leged simp ly
because they are 1nen.

Sexism

Transphobia
The fear and persecution of transgender/
transex ual persons . Rooted in a desire to 1naintain
the gende r b inary (i.e. the categor ies 'male' and
'female' ), ,vluch obscures the reality of ilie fluidity
of gende r.

Underemployment
Labour that is not fully utilized; encompasses
ind ividuals ,,vorking be lo,,v the level for which they
have been tra ined, or ind ividua ls ,,vorking fewer
hours a day ilian they wou ld prefer . Also includes
the ,,vorking poor ,,vhose long hours of labou r
generate inadequate inco1ne for bas ic subsistence.

White (as in ''white
people'')
The term \~1h ite', referr ing to peop le, ,,vas created
by \ !irgirua slave o,,,111ersand colonial rulers in tl1e
l 7tl1 centu111. It rep laced ter1ns like Chr istian and
"Engl ishman" to distinguish European colon ists
from Africans and i11digenous peoples . The
creation of \ ,vhite' meant giving pr ivileges to sorne,
,~1hile denying the 1n to others ,,,,ith ilie justif-ication
of bio logical and social infer-iority.

Photo courtesy of NaJ1um Gelber Library

7

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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8

DISORIENTAT I ON HANDBOOK 20 15
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AKING L~
SCHOOL
RK FOR YOU. How
I negotiated the tension
between law school and
what brought me to law
school in the first place.
s an inco ming stud ent e1nbarkin g on
your first year of la,,v school, you are
ikely feeling one of t\.vO things right
now: a flutt er of excitement at th e opportunit ies
befo re you, or a sinkin g feeling accompanied
by the thought: "W hat hav e I don e?" I t is an
in teresting and paradoxical reality of law school
that it ha s the ab ility to dra,v in socially mind ed
student s in a spirit of both revoluti on and
submi ssion. You n1ay h ave cho sen law school
with firn1ly activist in tent ions, or view your
attendance her e as contr avenin g every activist
bon e in your body. And rega rdl ess of which po le
of that spect rum you find yourse lf on today,
by th e ti1ne O ctobe r rolls around you ,,vill mo st
likely hav e adopt ed a mor e median pos ition, if
not a n1ore pessim istic one.

H ere ar e my sugges tion s of ho, -vto stay in touch
witl1 the goa ls and values tl1at brought you to law
school in the first place :

Bu t here's the thin g: la,,v school is no t
inh erently oppressive or e1npo, ,vering. Your
professors, colleag ues and readin gs hav e th e
potential to enra ge and in spire you in equal
n1easure. So, th e first step to 1naking la, ,vschool
wor k for you is recog nizing your agency and
autono1ny ,~,ithin th is institution. Being in law
school ca n so1netin1es feel like being tak en on
a bumpy rid e vvith no clear dest in ation, but th e
i1npo rt ant question is: ""ho's stee rin g? I kn o"v
from personal experi ence tha t it is poss ible to
stay in th e driver's seat and keep your eye on
your goals dur in g your first yea r of law school.

2. Seek out like-minded
student mentors

1. Never silence

yourself

in class

I found n1y part icipation in class discussions to be
tl1e single n1ost empo, ,veri11g aspect of n1y first yea r:
\ !\'bile your professors n1ay not be ,,villing (or able )
to mak e chan ges to your class syllabus, they can
and do often encoura ge quest ions and comments .
Take th ese opportu niti es to expr ess the perspectives
and consid eration s you feel are mi ssing or relevant
to th e class discussion! You m ay not be m et ,,vitl1
agree 1nent fron1 your peers or professor, but you
,~,ill broaden what nught othe rwise be a limited
co nversation.

I ,,vas lucky to mak e conn ection s with two upper year stud ents very early in my first year, vvho
provided invaluable advice to n1e tl1at deeply
enric hed my first year exper ience . Th ere is no
sub stitut e for this kind of hon est, personalized
advice . You are not the first to mano euvr e the
difficulti es of iliis in stitut ion, and your journey ,.\,ill
be smooth er and mor e fi·uitful if you tak e dir ections
fi·om som eone ,.vho can point you to,,vards the club s,
event s, and spaces that ,~,illhelp you stay conne cted
,~,it11
your goals .

9

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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3. Take every
opportunity
to produce
your own work
I did a lot of ,,vriting in n1y first yea1~a process wh ich
he lped me to develop and remaii1 connected to my o,,vn
thoughts and values as I ,,vas confi·onted vvith ne, ,v ideas
and vvay of thinking. If you are offered the choice of
,,vriting a term paper in a class, keep in ,nind that there
is 1nore at sta ke than your final n1ark. Wr iting a term
paper vvilloffer you the opportun ity to pursue lii1es of
inq uiry and perspectives that you may feel are m issing
or insufficiently addressed in the class curr iculum .
You may also pursue writing or expression (be it oral,
art istic, or even phys ical) outside of the Faculty, ,.vhich is
,,vhere the real n1agic happens .

4. Volunteer

community

in the

Acting as a legal assistant to the in -house la,~ryer at
Ste lla (lVIontreal's sex-wor ker advocacy organ ization )
,,vas one of the 1nost re, ,vard ing e>..rper
iences of ,ny
first year . I ,vas lucky to rece ive this placement after
applying to the 1\1 cGi ll Pro Bono Program, \vhich you
should abso lute ly check out and cons ider app lying
for. Volunteer ing in a commu,uty organizat ion is the
ultimate "vay to stay connected to the goals that brought
you to la,,v school in the first place, and the only way to
see the ,,vork you may hope to do one day in pract ice.
D o not shy a,,vay from these opportunities . They ,.vill
prove eq ually if not more valuab le than any class.

5. Be the change
want to see

you

This un iversal dictum means different things for each
of us, but is equally challenging for all. R emember that
you choose what a day in your life looks like. T here is
no need to give up on the pursu its and values that got
you to this place in your life. If those sa1r1e values lead
you to despair at some aspects of your legal education,
do son1ething to change it. D o not give up your agency
in this institution; it will be necessary if you are going to
succeed in 1naking la,~, schoo l ,.vork for you.

Written by Aliah El-houni,
law student at McGill
Photo courte sy of Sydney vVarsha\v
10

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DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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our eers...
What is the most
useful thing you
have learnt at
McGill Law?

for you and don't worry if
so1neone else spe nd s 1nore
tim e in the library, does mor e
unpaid int ern ship s, etc .

Que l'enseignement tres
theoriq ue du droit (en
appar enc e elitiste don e) est
p eut-etre le 1neilleur out il
pour un e approche critique au
droit car il n'y a pa s de place
pour cac her le colon ialisme, le
sexism e, le cap italisme et autre
*ismes quand on decortique un
concept ju sque sa mo elle.

Stud ents ca n get
acco1nmod ations for anxi ety
through th e Office for Stud ent s
,,vith Di ssab ilities.
I vvish I had kno, ,vn that my
favourite class would be the one
I got the ,,vorst mark in , and 1ny
least favourit e ,,vould be the one
I got the best mark in.

Th e less you v.1orry abo ut what
other people are doing, the
happi er you are go ing to be.

I vvish I had kno, ,vn about the
variety of j obs ava ilab le to la,v
grad s, and the i1npo r tance of
sea rclun g tl1em out .

That ju stice and la,v are not
synonyn1ou s. La,,vs are often
used aga inst those seeking
social chan ge.

What inspired
you to stay in law
school?

Qµ e la reussite academ iqu e se
jou
e. vra i1nent en gro upe et en
,
eq u1pe .
I t's easier to be co -opted int o
the system th an to fight aga inst
it. Surround your self ,,vith
loving people ,vho keep you
committed to your values .

What are some
things you wish
you liad known at
the b~(tinning
of
your ffrst year?
You don 't have to read it all,
buy it all, print it all. Get
involved ! Sp eak up!
Th ere 's a room where you ca n
meditate in the SS1\1U building
and they hav e free tea .
Don't try to keep up ,vith
others. Do ,,vhat works best

J oining th e immigrant ,,vorkers
centre and helping and
organ izing ,,vith migrant s and
in1nugrant s wor kers ,vas the
only thin g that mad e my first
year bea rabl e and enjoyab le.
Les etu diant:s incroyable s que
j'y deco uvr e et la perspect ive
de pouvo ir etre l'avoca te et
"a dvocate" du changement
social.
I act ually love learni11g and
solving difficult probl ems. I
think there need to be critical,
thoughtfu l, compa ssionate
peop le doing this wor k and I
asp ire to be one of them .

Thi s is the best contribution
I can n1ake to po sitive social
cha11ge at this po int in my life.
1~her e are so n1any a1nazing,
ki11dand nice people .

How did you
survive law school?
Coffee, Chocolat e, nun gling
,,,rith peop le ,,vho ai·e not blase
about social ju stice and getting
involv ed in legal clinics.
f-Iaving important co nn ections
and comm itments both in and
outside of the Faculty.
I see a therapist who help s ,vith
stress and keep ing thing s in
perspect ive.
I found like-nun ded colleag ues,
and took social justi ce classes at
the Faculty. I also got to kno,,v
the Pr ofessors at the Faculty
that are also comm itted to
social ju stice. Th ey can be great
mentor s!
By coo king good and healthy
food, eating, a11dsharin g food.
My informal lun ch club I had
,,vith a classmat e ,.vas of great
help to save time and money on
coo king.
By keep ing my eye on the priz e
(a career rnakin g a differenc e)
and reme1nberin g tl1at I am not
defined by M cGi ll La,v or what
they teach 1ne her e.

\Torkingat legal information
clinics ai1d feeling th e privil ege
of being abl e to help peop le in
great need .
\ 1

A lawyer's skillset is extremely
valuabl e to social mov en1ents.
11

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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//////////

//////////

At McGill
Midnight Kitchen
- R epas vegans, par donation, 12h30
SS11U

a tous les midi s clans le batiment

du

QPIRG
- Student-run organizatio n that conducts research, educat io11, and action
on environ mental a11dsocial justice issues at McGill
LegalEase
- Student-run radio sl1ow on CI(UT (90.3 F11) that deals ,,vith legal issues
The Flat Bike Collective
- Un atelier de reparation de velos cooperatif visant
cyclisme par le partage des connaissa 11ces et des out ils

a encourager

le

McGill Farmer's Market
- vVeeklyfarmer's mark et i11front of th e SSMU building
SACOMSS
- Th e Sexual Assault Centre of the M cGill Students' Society
Queer McGill
- A group that aims to create safe s1)ace and communi ty for queer stude nts
Union for Gender Empowerment
- A trans-positi, ,e feminist sen ,ice of SSMU
McGill Daily
- Ind epende nt student-ru n nevvspaper at M cG ill
Le Delit
- U n journal ind epe ndan t francophone produit par les etudiants de M cGill

12

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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In Montreal
Project Genesis
- A community organizatio n that provides legal i11formation, advocacy,
and referrals to peop le facing· housing problems or having difficulty accessing basic i11come security, healt hcare or other gover n1nent services . Project Genesis also ,vorks to fight poverty and impro, ,e l1ousing conditions
through its community orgaruzing work . See genese.qc .ca.
Prisoner Correspondence
Project
- A collectively-run direct-correspo11dence program for gay, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, gendervaria nt , tvvo-spirit, intersex, bisexual, and queer
in1nates in Canada and the United States, linking these i11matesvvith peop le who are part of these same communities outs ide of pr ison. See vvww.
prisonercorrespondenceproject.com .
Centre for Gender Advocacy
- Offers peer support and advocacy, safer sex resources, and trans hea lth
resources free of charge . The Ce11tre also campaigns to demand justice for
missing and murdered indigenous ,,vomen and to advocate for improved
access to reproductive and trans health services . See genderadvocacy .org.
,

Association pour une solidarite syndicale etudiante (ASSE)
- Un syndicat etud iant national qui incarne une ,,ision combati, ,e du syndicalis1ne etudiant et met !'information et la mobilisation de ses m embres au
cceur de son plan d'action. L'ASSE' combat pour une plus grande accessibilite a !'educat ion postsecondaire . Voir asse-solidarite.qc .ca .
Concordia Co-op Bookstore
- A not-for-profit bookstore located on Concordia's downto,vn campus.
Offers both new a11dused books, and boasts :t\1ontreal's largest selectio r1of
sex and gender studies titles. See ,..." ...",v.co-opbookstore.ca .
Le Frigo Vert
- A collectively run food store on Concordia's campus vvhere you can buy
organic bulk food, alternative health products, en,rironmenta lly frie11dly
cleaning supplies, snacks, coffee, and more . See lefrigovert.com.
Le Collectif Oppose a la Brutalite Policiere (COBP)
- Le COBP a pour but de denoncer les harcelements, violences et abus de
pouvoirs policiers, d'informer les gens sur leurs droits face a la police, et de
soutenir les ,rictimes en les aida .nt aporter plai11te. Voir cobp .resist.ca.

13

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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Head and Hands
- Offers medical, social, and legal services for Montreal youth aged 12
to 25, with a non-judgmental, harm-reducti, ,e, inclusive, and empowerment-focused approach. See headandhands.ca.
Action refugies Montreal
- Pr ovides legal informat ion to asylun 1 seekers in detention, offers a twinning program to support and ,,velcome refugees, and ad, rocates on behalf
of refugees. See W\t\T\,v
.actio nr.org.
Cactus Montreal
- Un organisme communautaire de prevention des infections trar1smissibles sexuellement et par le sang, acti f dans le centre-ville de Montreal.
Cactus offre des sen rices et activites de prevention, de sensibilisation et
d'education. Voir cactus 111ontrea l.org.
Solidarity Across Borders
- A migrant j ustice network based in M ontrea l comprised of migrants and
allies. SAB engages in popular education, support work, and political mobilizations, i11cluding demonstrations, pickets, delegatio ns, and direct actions . See vVvvw.solidarityacrossborders.org.
Le Mouvement Action-Chomage
- Un groupe de defe11se des droits des sans-emp loi. Il informe et defend
les gens tout en ,risant la sau, regarde et l'a1nelioratio n du regime d'assurance-chomage. Voir macmtl.qc.ca .
Action Sante travesti-e-s et transexuel-le-s du Quebec (ASTT(e)Q)
- ASTT (e)Q aims to promote the health and vvell-being of tra 11s people
throug h peer support and advocacy, education and outreac l1, and comm unity empowe rm ent and mobilization . See \t\T\V\v
.astteq.org.
,

Ste-Emilie Skillshare
- A community art collective that shares skills and resources to create art in
the spirit of self-represe n tation and revolution . Th e collecti,re wo rks '"'ithin
an anti-oppression frame\t\70rk tovvard social and econo 1nic transf or1nation .
See steemilieskills hare. org.
Santropol Roulant
- Santropol Ro ulant uses food as a vehic le to break social and economic isolation between generatio ns a11dcultures. Pr ograms include meals on
whee ls, urba n agricu ltur e, and a bike repair shop . See santropo lroulant.
org.

14

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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In the Legal Conununity
Association

des juristes progressistes

(AJP)

- U r1rassemblement d'avocatEs, d'etudiantEs et de tra\ railleurs/travailleuses voues ala defense des droits et determines amettre le juridique au service
de la lutte pour la justice sociale et la fin des inegalites . Voir ajpquebec .org.

La clinique juridique

du Mile-End

- Un reseau d'avocats et d'etudiants en droit dedies
accessib le aux cito)re11s. Voir justice1nontreal .org.

a rendre

la justice plus

Law Union of Ontario
- A coalition of progressive la,,vyers, la'"' stude nts, and legal ,vorkers that
aims to demystify legal procedures, attack discriminatory and oppressive
legislati on, argue progressive ne,-v applications of the la,-v,and democratize
legal practice. See la\•vunion. ca.

National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
- A feminist organizatio n that promotes the equality rights of Canadian
vvo1ne11through legal educatio n, research, and lavv reform advocacy . Also
chec k out their Gender and the La,v l\1anual, a\railable on line. See na,vl.
ca .

National Lawyers Guild (U.S.)
- Ai1 association of progressi\ re lavvyers and law students that seeks to mai11tain and protect civil rights and liberties and to saf eg1.1ardand extend the
rights of marginalized groups. See nlg.org.

Compiled by Kate Forrest,
law student at McGill.

15

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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JECONNAIS
RONCARELLI,
AIS
C'EST
UI HARKAT?
Le cadre def orme de ta
formation juridique
out comn1e l'ind ique D ean Spade: «L aw
school is like a la11guage in1mersion
progran1, but one in vvluch the language
you are learn ing is the language of rationaliz ing
\•vhite supremacy, settler colonialism, pat riarchy
and cap italis1n » .
Nl ais ton per il est encore plus serieux que le
suggere Spade : ta format ion en dro it a 1-'IcG ill
risque, en plus, par le recours fi"equent a des
concepts tel celui des « dro its fondamentaux », de
reussir a te conva inc re que le dro it est progressiste
de sa nature n1en1e. Tu apprendras en detail en
analysant l'arret Roncarell i que, pour que la
justice soit rendue, meme contre les tout -pu issants
tel Maur ice D up lessis, les ind ividus oppri1nes
11'ont qu'a presente r leurs pla intes a la Cour
supreme. On te suggerera - imp licitement, ma is
continue llen1enr- pa r ailleurs, que cette Cour est
un veritab le guerrie r de la gauche, qu i reussit a
dejouer Stephen H arper a tous les coups.
C'est peu probab le, parcontre, qu'on mentio1u1e
clans tes cour s le regune canad ien de certificats de
securite qu i etait en cause clans l'affa ire H arkat.
Celui-ci auto rise des proces secrets, lors desquels la
defende resse n'est aucune1nent autorisee a prendre
co11naissance de la preuve secrete presentee pour
l'incr iminer . Ce meme regime a ete affirme par la
Co ur supreme, et cible presqu'a l'unan i1nite des
pe rsonnes rac isees, d 'or igine arabe.

16

On ne discute ra non plus du reglen1ent
1nunicipal P-6, en vertu duque l le Service de police
de la ville de Montrea l a effectue des ar restations
en masse de plus de nulle militantes et mi litants
de gauche dep uis la greve etud iante de 2012,
tout en refusant d'app liquer ce n1eme reg len1ent
lors des celebrat ions du Canadien OU lorsqu' une
mani festation des po liciers et po licieres eux -n1emes
n'a pas ete con forme a ses disposit ions . En fa.it, les
profs auxque ls j e l'ai 1nentionne n'avaient jamais
entendu parler de ce reg lement dont !'abrogat ion
a ete revend iquee a mai ntes repr ises par les
.
.
.
,
1nouven1ents soc1aux, et qu i est souvent n1ent1onne
dans les n1edias de 1nasse, 1nais qui den1eure
apparemment touj ours obscur dans la faculte de
dro it.

On ne cliscuter a surement

pas du taux
sans precedent d'e n1prisonnen 1ent au Canada,
part icu lierement de personnes rac isees, me1ne
si ceci resulte du trava il du systeme judic iaire.
L'enquete ur correctionnel u1dependant a d'ai lleurs
constate en nove1nbre que « You cannot reasonab ly
clai1n to have a just societ)' \•vith incarceration rates
like these».
Une vraie formation, un sens mora l plus
profond, une connaissance du monde qui depasse
les zones de pr ivileges qu i eng lobent l'un iversite
1-'IcGill et la facu lte de dro it, necessitent forcement
plutot de s'i1np liquer dans les mouve 1nents sociaux

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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au -dela du milieu academique, et qui abondent a
Montrea l. En n1en1etemps, il vaut la pe ine de connecter
avec les autres etudiant -e-s qui se questionnent eux et
elles aussi et qu i souha ient contester la perpetuation du
pouvoir et des p rivileges par les 1nilieux academiques
et juridiqu es. Bon courage dans la revendicat ion d'un
milieu jurid ique plus ju ste !

~

Ecrit par Mark Phillips ,
ancien etudiant en droit a
McGill

Photos courtesy of Justice for Harkat

17

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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18

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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Bein vulnerable enough
to as for help with 111ental
health while studying law
at McGill
aw students are afraid to talk about
mental health.

La,,v students are genera lly afraid to admit that
they could be living ,,vith mental health difficulties,
,,vhether it's anxiety diso rders, mood disorders (like
depress ion), or eating disorders .
I've talked to several successful, bright and
amazing l\licGill law upper years and grads
,vho've confessed to 1ne that they receive (d) exam
accomrr 1odat ions for var ious ailments, but no one
is ready to have this be publ ic know ledge . And of
course, rightly so - in terms of pr ivacy - it is ou r
right to keep our health informat ion fi-ombecom ing
pub lic k110,,vledge.
Ve'r e often afra id to ask for he lp. We like to
ma ke it seem like we have it all together . But in
rea lit1,, the cu ltur e of la,~, can be incredibly stressful
and exacerbate any ,vorry, insecur ity or fear ,~,e've
strugg led with before .
\

1

Let's fight against

2. Learn
regulations.

about

McGill's

policies

and

T he
"Handbook
of
Academic
Regulations,
Resolutions
and Policie s"
states the la,,v faculty's ru les on exam deferra ls and
acco1nn1odations. 1
3. Folks at the SAO (Student Affairs Office)
really do care and want to help you.

The SAO helps students with all things
acade1n ic at the law faculty. 1"hey're not perfect.
Students comp lain about the ir ,,vait times and
bureaucracy . But the staff beh ind the counter
genuine ly care and ,,vant to help .
4. Students can go see SAO staff at any
time they are feeling unwell, and this is
especially true during exams.

this culture of fear.

In hopes of do ing this, I ,vould like to sh are a
list of things about mental health resources
at the law faculty that I discovered through
research and conversat ions with friends .
1. The overarching
message
I want
convey is that you shouldn't be afraid
seek out help for your mental health.

vVithout being vulnerable enough to ask for
he lp, law students who have used these n1ental
hea lth resources probab ly cou ld not have been as
successful as they are.

to
to

Don't be afraid to ask for help ! l\li ake yourse lf
a,vare of the support that exists at tvl cGill. Access
these services .

SAO Director Nancy Czen1me l told me that
the SAO aims to remind students that they
should not go into an exam if they are not
feeling 100% . Rather, she suggests that students
seek n1edical attent ion before exa1ns and apply
for a deferral thro ugh the SAO and / or spea k to
SAO staff directly about the possibility of exam
acco 1nn1odat ions and deferrals.
5. If

students

become

I Found throug h the SAO's

ill (physically

or

,vebsite: http:/ /~\l\"'"·1ncgill.ca/

la,v-stud ies/policies

19

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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psychologically) in the middle of an exam,
they can still talk to the SAO.

does not employ psychiatrists and therefore cannot
prescr ibe medication .

It takes guts, but Nancy says that students can
see the SAO during an exain, \•ve just need to ask
for help. Then, students can discuss exam deferrals,
acco 1nmodations or the option of go ing back into
the exam after having talked with an SAO staff
member: 2

Couns ellors "do write Letters of Support for
students [who need accommodations], but 011ly
,vitlun certa in parameters."+

6. The
SAO's website
recommends
speaking with members of their staff if we
are "struggling to deal with depression, anxiety,
financial problen1s or any other persona l problem" .
For more information, please visit http:/ /,vvvw.
1ncgill.ca/la, ,v-stud ies/infor1nat ion/ advisi11g.
7.
McGill
students
with
mental
health difficulties
can also get exam
accommodations
through the OSD (Office
for Students with Disabilities).
Friends have told n1e that they 've received
acco 1nmodations related directly to their diagno sis:
for examp le, speec h-to-t ext softwa re for dyslexia,
or extended time or the stop,vatch accommodation
for anxiety .~ Students can also ,,vrite the ir exams at
the OSD's office, ,vhich can be he lpful for people
,vith social anxiety.

8. The OSD works with McGill's Mental
Health Services,
a team of psychiatrists,
psychologist s and psychotherapists who support
students' \veil-be ing and academic success .
Psychologists and psycluatrists at r-.tfentalI-Iealth
Service s offer various kinds of therapy , diagno se
1nental health difficulties and can prescr ibe
medication.

9. Students also have access to McGill's
Counselling Services, which offers therapy but

2 Thi s co rr espo nd s to i\rtic le 21 , Sect ion III.

Examinat ion s,
'f e nn Pap ers and Essays, SAO Handbook of Acade mic
Regu latio ns, Reso lution s and Policies. Found here : http:/ I
\V\"'' '· 1ncgil l.ca/ la ,v-studi es/ files/ la,, 1-stu di es/ sao _ handbook 20 15_20 16.pdf

3 See M cGillOSD 's Youtube channel and spec ifica lly their
video entitled, "Stop\vatch for Stud ents": http s:/ /""''""·
youtub e.co m/, ,vatch?v =YETr30n.1nDY

20

10. Finally, if you're worried
about
confidentiality,
note
that
the
above
institutions are strictly bound by Quebec
privacy legislation.
I'll let you google ,,vhat this exactly means - but
your medical inforn1ation is confidential except
under very lin1ited circumstances .

I hope this information has helped you.
Nly hope is to continue in1portant conversations
aimed at destigmatizing n1ental health difficulties
in the field of law.
Please don't hesitate to contact me directly ,,\rith
any question s - I am so happy to h elp.

4 See Coun selling Services " Our services" pa ge : http s:/ /
,Vv\l\v.
1ncg ill.ca/ co un selling/ services

Written by Yuan
Stevens,
law student at
McGill

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
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Photo co1u·tesy of Sydney v\larsha\v

21

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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McGill Law Power

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DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 201 5
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)

IJ

e.
Th~ J.Jd.ic.,P-1
&Ard.
"J-isoA.rd.•

j C..OV..;c.i
I
t.te.e.s

SuperviSor • top of the arrow;
delegate • bottom

Indicates representatives from
body at top of the arrow Sit on
body at the bottom of the arrow .

~§g

PerSon in poSition of power
Multi-Member deciSion-makitJ6
body

Created by Katie Spillane,
McGill law alumna

23

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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I
ON'T
~IT IN THE
LOBBY: Thoughts on
Parenthood in Law
School
'This is an c.ditt d ver~ion of an ~u·tid c originally published in ConLours, a
studc:nl ..run magazine 1.haLserves as a sp<:l<
;c for wmr1en's voiCf'S in NkC ill

Law.

y first step as a newly ad n1itted NicGill
student was to have my stud ent ID
mad e. NIy baby safely strapp ed in his
stroll er~I queued at Service Point to 1nake the great
ne,vs official: I ,,vas now a NicGill law student! I
,.vas almost through the line when the person
sup ervising the queue po litely asked me to leave.
I ,vas a little bit puzzled and at a loss for \vords for
a 1noment. H e said, "1"his area is for stud ents only,
parents need to wait in the lobby."
Th ere is a fact seldom mention ed about
la,,v student s: so1ne of us - actually, a bu11ch of
us - have children. \A/e are taught fue merits of
shielding our personal lives fro1n our profess iona l
personas and many of us believe in the division . So
,ve are parents at home and stud ents at the faculty,
and each role is of no consequence to fue other .
Some of us s,,vitch from par ent to stud ent during
ilie metro ride to camp us; others ju st have the time
it takes for tl1e light to turn green as they cross Peel
on tl1eir way fro1n the SSNIU day-care.
Nlaybe being a parent is ju st an unfortunat e
circum stanc e that con1pron1ises a stud ent' s chan ces
of success. Indeed, spe ndu1g restless nights
ponder ing over re1ned ies for odontogenesis 1night
sound very scholarly, but believe n1e (or Goog le),
it is not the best ,,vay to prepare oneself for the
i11tellect ual chall enges of legal ed ucation. On the
other hand , typ ical stud ent nightlife ca n be ju st
as restless: hittin g fue bars on Cr escent Street,
dan ci11g the night away, arguin g ,vith a soon-to -be
ex? Mayb e even doin g all tl1ree at once?

24

Th ere is tl1is idea that law stud en ts ,vitl1
childr en are accomplishing a feat, like ,,ve are un sung
hero es, do ing ,vhat so man y fuought un possible .
In fact, "I don't know how you do it" is the 1nost
common sta ten1ent I hea r when I first mention my
child. I have even been told on occas ion that I ,vas
"a hero."
Being a parent and a law stud ent is not
heroic. It is, or ma ybe should be, siinply ordinary .
If you ask la,v stud ents who are parents, you might
be surpri sed to hear that they don 't necessarily
str uggle; some even find fuat havin g childr en ,-vhile
studying is an asset. I don't mea n to n1inimize the
challenges, because th ere are i1nportant difficulties
that stud ents ,,,rith children fa.ce, and not all are
equal . You might find that experi ences differ
depe ndin g on fue stud en t's ge nd er, living situation,
finan cial n1eans, the age or (dis)ab ility of tl1eir
childr en, or their citizenship statu s. Dea ling ,,,rifu
the routine tasks of parenting in the middl e of a
48 -hour take-hon1e is challengin g; it is even n1ore
so for a single parent or a family that hasju st arr ived
in Canada ,,,rith no support nehvork.
H o,,vever, the biggest difficulty in being
both a la,v student and a parent is tl1is concept fuat
law stud ents are not parents . Thi s idea is based
on a fictional idea of who the typical law stud ent
is or should be. In stead of shap ing law school
around the needs and aspirations of an im aginary
stud ent, one who is notabl y a relic fr·om a past of
sham eless priv ilege and discrimination , we should
allow law school to reflect fue chan ges in its own
stude nt popu lation . Both tl1e staff and stud ents
of the faculty should be a,vare that parenthood
exists ai1d belongs on boili sides of the classroom

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

- in clubs, at coffeehouses, on exchange and
even on an internship . v\le pride ourselves on tl1e
relative diversity of our student body, but this
also means allo,~ring norms to sluft accordingly,
or even better, to push for change . Part of that
change is recob>nizing that there are students at
our faculty who are or int end to beco1ne parents
,,rithout ,vatering down the ir a1nbitions or 1naking
heartbreaking co 1npro1nises.
Most parents or parents -to-be ,vitlun our
ranks, while stri,ring for meaningful careers, also
,,vant to be involv ed in raising their kids, and not
just to act as providers . These are concer ns that
directly affect legal educat ion , academia and legal
practice. And let's be hone st, student s ,,,rith children
might more readily embrace the ,,vork/life balance
credo, but a lot of stud ents ,,vho are not concerned
about parenthood also contemplate a kii1d of life
that won't feed the statistics about alcoholism and
depression in the profession. All students ,,vould
likely benefit from a la,~, schoo l n1ore n1indful of
parenthood ,,vithin its ranks.
Keep ing the issue of parenthood quiet and
out of sight rei11fi)rcesthe status quo about gender
disparities in our faculty and in the workforce. , 1\'hile
the fathers in la,v schoo l can put their stab ility and
maturity for,.vard to potentia l employers, it is likely
different for mothers. Law school can and shou ld
be a space of empo, ,verment, a jump start towards
resisti11gsuch systemic discrin1ination.
I for one won't be s,vitching from parent to
student at the door. At l\llcGill La,v, our children
are ,velcome in class, breast -feeding is allo,,ved
evet)"'vhere, and parents don't have to ",va it in tl1e
lobby." vVe have the opportunity to change the idea
of the l)rpical la,v student a11dI am seizing it.

Written by Maryam
d'Hellencourt,
law student at
McGill

Resources

for parents

at McGill

- Faceboo k Group : La,~, students with ch ildren - communaute des etud iant. e.s-parents:
https: / / W¼rw.facebook.com/ groups/ La,,vstudents\.vithchildren/
- The 1st Annual Student Par ent Orientation,
September 17th 10ain - l:30pm: http s://W\ •V\.V
.
mcgill.ca/ eq uity _diversity/ students/ fan1ily-care/ l st-annual -student -parent -orientation
- PGSS family collection: http:/ /ne, ,vs.library.
mcgill .ca/ pgss-family-collection -creating -a-,,velcoming -library -space -for-s tuden t-paren ts-and their -children/
- PGSS Study Saturday (an a1nazing event where
volunteers watch your kids ,,vhile you study in the
same bui lding ): https:/ /pgss.mcgill.ca/ get -involved/ events/
- PGSS guidelines for fan1ily friendly events:
htlps: / / pgss .n1cgill.ca/ document/ view/ 14/
PGSS %20Fa .mily-Care%20guidelines%20
on%20ho, ,v0/o20to%20make%20events%20Fainily%20Friend ly.pdf
- Map of changing tables on campus (ne, ,v ones
at our faculty not yet listed ) : https:/ /, .'""'""·goo gle.com/maps/ di en1bed?mid=z72c9x9yosfM.
kZ-ZylxtbS4l\1&pli= 1
- Breastfeeding roon1 ii1Thomson house (½rith
a rocking cha ir and a chang in g table in the
bathroom next door ): htt1)s:/ /pgss.mcgill.ca/services/fanuly -care/
- I-Iighchairs in the do,.vnstairs restaurant at
Thom son house
- Cultural events for children at McCord Muse um, R edpath 1ifuseum on Sundays, Bach Before
Bedtime (concerts for children and babies )
- SSl\lIU Day care gives priority to undergrads
(unlike CPE l\llcGill)

Dravving by Maryam d 'Hellencourt

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,~,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
25

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Exce
t From the
Joint
tatement on the
Renewal and Reform
of the B.C.L./LL.B.
Curriculum
at the
Faculty of Law
'This stat<:rncnt wa" written by The Black Law Stud ent<;' A'5ociation at
l'vkGill (BLSAI\•I), Comrn un autc j urid igue radicale ct udian t.E de i'vlcGill
(RADLA\ V), a nd The vVomen of Colo ur Collc,·tive ('VOCC ) in response to
t.h c l\1<:Gill Faculty of Law 's C urricul ar Refor m Prop os:Li. To ,iew 1.he who le
~ta1err1t
' nl , please sec the Febr uary 3, 20 15 edit.ion or 1.he Qui d Kovi:

http :/ /www.quidnovi.,a/issue s/2 014-20 I5/v3 6n ol 3.p,lf

ranssy stem ic education is the clain1 to fame
of McGill 's curr icu lum; the successful
imp lementation of a ne,v transsyst emic
curricu lum shou ld not be at the exclusion of the
explorat ion and ackno, ,vledgement of systemic legal
prob le1ns pertain ing to race, gender, class, sexuality
and disab ility. La,,v as truth and as the tool of ju stice
,vh en applied through a lens that ignor es race, class
and gender, among other i11tersecting identit ies,
is comp letely divorced fron1 peop le's rnaterial
and lived realitv, and is converted into a tool of
oppression and rep ression. McGill's la,,v faculty ha s
a respons ibility to its students and to their future
client s to ground them in the realitie s of the ,vays
comn1unities experience la,v and the lega l system .
This will on ly be ach ieved upon the introdu ction
of curricula that acknow ledge the foundations of
la,,v in ra cist, classist, sexist and coloniali st id eology
and how that still informs th e institutions of law;
one that con1mits to a truly diverse la,~, faculty and
student body, reflective of a cross-section of society,
and enab ling real engagement in the issues affecting
the most margina lized in a non -token istic manner;
and one that valu es and elevates actions beyond
the classroom, actions that ai1n at tran sfor1nation
and social a11deco nomi c ju stice.

26

In tl1e past several years, 1nemb erships of
our respective organizations hav e observed the
preponderance of pedagogi cal approaches that
decontext ualiz e and de-empha size matt ers where
systemic issues of race, gende1~ class and sexua lity
are at play. For instance, our first year Extra Contractual Obligat ions/Torts class discussed the
Supr eme Court case Augu stus v Gos set ( 1996 3
SC R 268) ,,vhich deals ,,rith a mother' s suit again st
a police officer ,,vho fatally shot her black son in
Montreal. H o,,veve1~,.vhen this n1atter ,vas brought
up in some of our classes, the role of racial bias
and the disproportionat e force used aga inst young
black peop le by po lice officers in North Ain erica
,,vere ren1oved from the discussion.
O ther instances of deco ntextua lized cases
and mater ials frorn their historical , social and
polit ical cont ext should be rectified . In Co1nmon
La,,v Prop ert)~ the US Supre n1e Court case Dred
Scott v Sandford is presented ,vithout reference to
the fact that the Chief Ju stice of the Unit ed Stat es
Supre1ne Court was a slavehold er and tl1at the
dec ision is ,videly regar ded as th e ,,vorst de cision
in the history of the Un ited Stat es Supr eme Court.
T he case ,vas also taught ,,,rithout reference to the
abundance of ra cial epithets and rac ist dep ictions
of Africa n American s in the judgm ent.
. .. Our progran1 cannot move towards
inclusiveness and attent ion to diversity
hearing from ho, ,v students, 1)a rti cular ly
of colour, are impa cted ,vh en issues of

greater
without
stud ents
rac e are

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

brought up in the classroom ,vith out a recognition
of the presence of racism as one of the 1)reclo1ninant
SlTuctural forces that iinpacts the membership of
the judiciary and plays a role in the outcome of
cases.
l~egard ing the integration of Indigenous
Prop erty into the curricu lum , "ve have conce rn s
about the method and en1pha sis that will be given
on this portion of the curriculun1. Given tl1e
lack of a full-time Indig enous Faculty member
or a Faculty member whose research conce rn s
I11digenous property in QJ.1ebec and the rest of
Canada, the support for this curr icu lum change
does not see1n to be there .. .\ 1Villtl1is be a tokenistic
perspective that does not engage the historical
context, the subjugat ion of Indig enous peoples
under colonial regi1nes of Britai11and France, and
the ongoing application of ilie Indian Act, colo11ial
legislation that maintains the po,ver to defu1e
'Ind ians' and 'non -Indians'? Nlanv, students have
observed that when any legal issues that engage
Ind igenous perspectives, or concern reserve/non reserve relations, terms such as "we" or "us" are
used to refer to Europ ean settlers/non -Indigenous
peop les and ter1ns such "they" or "them" describe
Indigenous peoples. Th ese problematic binaries
erase tl1e presence of Indigenous students at tl1e
faculty as ,,veil as people of colour:
As McGill's
transsystemic
program
continues to evolve, a genuine embrace of critical
forn1s of und erstand ing of the la,,v, rather than a
merely theoretical recognition of "non -state legal
orders" is necessary. A tr1,1ly"cr itical" und erstand ing
of the la,,v is tl1e recognition and realization that
the maxin1s and self-legitimizing ideology in which
the law is placed, is a farce . "fhe mere concept of
the law - a mechanism that works in the san1e way
for each citizen - must be deconstructed. R ather
than mere ly parroting tired libera l ju stifications of
property, a crit ical property la"v course \.vould seek
to sho,,vcase the widespread ii1equality that this
institution supports . Contract law, as essentially a
by-product of cap italism, ought to be exa ,nin ed
as a means of do,nination . Foundations of
Canadian La"v shou ld lead students to question
,,vhy jurisprudence is so historically ,nal e, and
,,vhat kinds of damage tl1is has caused . Students

shou ld question claim s tl1at formal inclusion of
,vomen in the lega l process has some ho,v corrected
an enti re history of male domination . In short,
critical understanding involves an institutional
commitment to celebratii1g all perspectives on the
law, even inconvenient ones .
The Faculty must be co1nn1itt ed to includ e
historically rnarginaliz ed voices and ident ities, via
professors who are eq uipp ed to teach the cour ses
and topics ,ve have been advocating. Professors and
course lecturers have the onus of proposing courses
that reflect these issues and ilien ensur ing tl1eir
course materials allo,v for crit ical engagement "vith
questions of power and social ju stice. And finally,
,,ve as students have a responsibility to engage in
our courses and con1n1itmen ts in the Faculty in
,,vays tl1at allow our peers and ourselves to become
jurists equ ipp ed to be effective in the "vorld we live

.

111.

Signed,
The Women of Colour Collective (WOCC)
McGill Radical Law Student Community
(RADLAW)
The Black Law Students Association
at
McGill (BLSAM)

..


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linage from Ecole de la Montagne Rouge

27

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////



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28

DISORIENTATION

HANDBOOK 2015

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

RKAT
cGill Law is a place to lear n, but it is also
a pla ce of ,,vork. As you become part of
the com1nunity, it's worth takin g ti1ne to
reflect on how ethi cal the Faculty 's en1ployment
pra ctices are. Thi s is a br ief article highlighting
some prob le1natic areas that might be of interest
to studen ts.

Unpaid Work
If you pay attention, you'll find unpaid labour
throughout the Facu lty. Th e mo st egregiou s
exampl e of exploiting stud ent labour might be that
of Group 1\ss istant s (G.A.s) and Tutorial Leade rs
(T.L.s).
G.A.s are essentially teac hing assistants: they
help professors plan classes, respond to stud ent
questions, ho st or teach class sessions, and
someti1nes assist vvith grading. In 1nost l\!IcGill
facult ies, teach ing assistants are paid, w1io11iz
ed
po sitions. At ~1cG ill La, ,v, ho,,vever, 2L and 3L
stude nts pay McGill (tuition fees) for the pr ivilege
of ,,vorking for free. T.L.s teach legal methodolo gy
for 1L stud ents, and sinularly pay for cre dits in
exchang e for giving their time .
You' ll also find unpaid wor k in the stud en t-run
journal s (which are ,,videly used by professors to
advance the ir scholar slup ), in the legal inform ation
clinic (,vhich uses unpaid stud ent labour to
provide legal services that should be prov ided by
governm ent-fund ed legal aid), in the legal clinic
cour se (vvhich takes stud ents' tuition do llars and
send s them to \,VO
rk for free, mo stly in non -profit
settings), and in the Law Students Association (it's
,,vorth notin g one of two candidat es for L.S.A.
president .,rithdrew durin g the ca1npaign last yea1;
citing an inability to d edicate so man y hour s to tl1e
po sition vvithout pay).
You nu ght find so1ne of these unpaid posit ions
mor e etlucal than others. In any case, being a,,vare
of them w-ill help guide your decision-n1aking
and und erstand vvhat oppo rtun ities are larg ely

CGILLL
unavailabl e to stud ent s who cannot afford to ,.vork
for free .

Underpaid Work
Resea rch Assistants (R.A. s) at l\!I cG ill are pa id,
unioniz ed pos itions. For many years, R. A. wages
remain ed large ly un chan ged until the Association
of l\llcG ill Univ ersity Research Employ ees
unionized and barga ined for a collective agreement
in 2013. Th e 1nini1nun1,vage for R. A.s is curr ently
$12 .9 1/hour for und ergrad uate stud ent s.' So1ne
professors pay mor e. l\llany do not.
~1any la,,v stud en ts are frustrated that we are
classified as "und ergradu ates" despite genera lly
havin g one or 1nore previous degrees (in addition to
work expe rience ). Th e curr ent collective agreement
expires in 2016 and vvill be renegotiat ed then . Last
year, the L.S.A. called on professors to pay R. A.s
at least $ 16/hour, still belo,,v the sta ndard vvage for
lavv stude nt R. A.s else,,vh ere.2

Overpaid Work?
A comrr 1on response to req uests for a wage (for
unpaid work) or a bette r ,,vage (for und erpaid ,,vork)
is that l\llcGill - and our Facu lly - cannot afford
it. It's worth notin g, ho,,vever, that ~1cG ill ha s the
second-lar gest endo, ,v1nent of any university in
Canada (afte r Uo fT), and finished the 20 14 fiscal
yea r '",jth a 15-million -do llar operat ing surplu s.~
Not everyone at ~1cG ill Lavv is expected to
tight en their be lts. Th e n1edian lavv professor at
~1cGill ear ns $ 173,000 (associate professo rs earn
$126,00 0).'1 It's wortl1 notin g as well that Suzanne
Fortier, l\llcG ill's Prin cipa l, earn s $39 0,000 per year

1 http:/

/\\l\'1\\'.aeru1n-an 1ure .ca/agreeme nts-2/

2 http:/ /,\l\v\v.quid novi.ca/ issues/20 14-20 l 5/v36no 17.pdf
3 http:/ /\\l\v 1v.mcgillclaily.com/2014/ I O/mcgill- encls-financial-year-,vith- l 5-1nillion- surpl 1.1
s/

4 https:/ /'"'"' '"•1ncgill. ca/ apo/fil es/ apo/ aca clen1ic_salary_clata_ tt_ancl_cas_ 20 14_ 1O_\veb.p df

29

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

(plus up to 20% in bonuses), 5 more than the Pri1ne
Mi11ister of Canada . For reference, only 10% of
Canadians earned 1nore than $80,000 in 2014, and
only 1% earned 1nore than $19 1,000.6

Join Us
Dur ing your time at McGill la,,v, I l1ope you'll
join a gro, ,ving community of students ,vorking to
improve employment conditions at the Faculty.
\ t\1e're cons istently told by the Faculty ho,~, valuab le
and unique ,,ve are. I t's tin1e for them to prove it by
paying us fair ,.vages for our ,.vork.

5 ht:1p://publ ications. 1ncgill.ca/reporter/2013/09/princ

i-

pal-fortiers-contracr-publishecl-online/
6 http:/ /,VvV\v.cbc.ca/ne, ,vs/ canada/,v ho-are-canada-stop-1-1. 1703321

Written by Jacob Schweda,
law student at McGill

~

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Five ways
to get
practical
legal

e er1ence
in your first
year of law
school
hen I first arrived at la½' schoo l in 2012
I already had one degree and several
years of work experience under my
belt. I had con1e to la,,v schoo l eager to get the
practical legal tools and exper ience I needed in
order to go back to my previous wor k and cata lyze
even greater change. 1-l o-.,vever,upon entering the
Faculty's doors I was quickly inforn1ed that I ,~rou ld
be unab le to engage in any legal work until second year . I glumly s-.,va
llo-.,vedthis inforn1at ion for
the first semester and ,,vaited it out . But by second semester, I realized that this ,,vas a 1nyth, and
that if you look ha rd enough, th ere are clear op portun ities to 'get your hands dirty ' and engage in
practical lega l ,vork from the rr1oment you ,valk in
the Faculty 's door.

1. PROJECT GENESIS

Photo court esy of Lillian Boctor

30

Project Genesis is a loca l comm unity legal
clinic in Cote -des-Ne iges spec ializing in hous ing la-.,v,welfare, pensions, and family allowances .
First-year students are N10 RE than ,.velcome to
voluntee1: You do not have to volunteer via ProBono

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 20 15
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

l\1cGill but can contact and organize it with the
Proj ect Genesis (PG) directly. I-Iowever, you can
only receive academic credit for volunteering
at PG via the legal clinic course in third year.
I have been volunteer ing here for the past t,~;o
years and it is an incredible practical legal
,,vork exper ienc e. After comp leting 30 hours of
tra irling, lav. student volunteers get ,veekly four hour shifts at 'tl1e storefront,' a ,,valk-in clinic
,~,here clients drop in ,,vith pressing legal queries .
Each volunteer helps provide legal iiuorn1ation
to individual clients in person . At all tunes there
are two 1nembers of the staff to sup ervise and
confirn1 your actions on each case. Fro1n helping
a woman ,,vho has been threatened ,,vith eviction
by drafting a letter informin g the land lord of
the illegality of his actions, to comn1u11icating
,,vith welfare to establish that a beneficiary has
not actually been ,~1orking the past three months
and shou ldn't have a debt to vvelfare, the ,,vork
is extremely practical, life-changing and revvarding. Check out http:/ /genese .qc.ca/ or contact
3L student K ate Forrest at forrest.kate@gmai l.
com.
1

research to help the individual' s claim. For n1ore
information chec k out: https:/ /,~,ww.mcgill.ca/
inn ocence/ mcgill-innocence-project .

3. PRO-BONO
Pro-Bono l\tlcGill l1elps to organize a
large nu1nber of volunteer placements with local
NGOs and con1munity orga11izations around
l\1ontreal. Organizations include PINAY, Cen tre for Research-Action on R ace Relations, Ca nadian Civil Lib erties Association, and H ead
and H ands, among rr1any others. Some of the
placements are more ' legal' in nature than oth ers. ,,vhile in son1e placements a la,~, student
may be tasked ,,vith creati11g a brochure in
siinp le language on the la,,v of wills or labour
rights, in other placements students 1nay do legal
research to help an ongoing court case or assist
in drafting lega l n1en1os. Research the positions
before applying to n1ake sur e that the type of
v.ork and organization is son1ething tha t you
feel con1fortab le and passionate doing. l\!I ore
info on Pr o-Bono can be found here: l1ttps:/ /
W\•vw.mcgill .ca/ probono/ apply -pbsc -mcgill.
1

2. INNOCENCE MCGILL
I11nocence l\1cGill is a student -run
lega l cli11ic dedicated to assisting ii1carcerated
individuals who believe that they• have been
vvrongfully convicted . Through
research,
investigation and lega l ,~1ork, stud ents make a
tangib le iinpact on the lives of many ,vrongfully
convicted individual s. Again, while stud ents only
receive acadenuc credit for director positions
,,vith Inno cence l\ticGill in trurd year via the legal
clinic course, first-years are more than ,~1elcome
to help out ,,vith the practical lega l work. The
first year positions are competitive so apply early!
Students are supervised by a Quebec criminal
defence lawyer ,,vho guid es and 1nentors students in their work. Students don't represent
the individual or give legal advice, but engage in

4. SOLIDARITY ACROSS
BORDERS
Solidarity Across Bord ers is a local com munity organization dedicated to social justice,
decolonization and status for all, a1nong other
issues. They are kno, .vn across Montreal
as a place ,vhere all are welcome and there is
support for everyone . On e of their critical
projects is assistance with H&C applications
(Hu1na11itarian and Compass ion ate Grounds
Applications ). When an individual or fanuly's
application for refugee status has been rejected
and they cannot gain status via other 1neans,
an I-I&C application is often their last bastion
of hop e to remain in Canada . l\1cGill Law
students have been helping SAB out with H &C

31

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

applications over the last year. After being trained
in ho,~, to comp lete them (,,vhich involves not
only papen ,vork but in terviews ,,vith the family,
teac hers, relatives, etc.), stud ents are pai red
,,rith local families or ind ividuals ,,vho need help
comp leting their H &C applicat ion. Thi s is an
incredibl e project to tangibly help individual s,
,,vlule also ga ining practical legal expe rience and
expo sur e to Canada's irr1migration system . For
more information conta ct 1\1cG ill law alun1na
Lillian Boctor (lil1ia nbo ctor@gma il.co 1n) or
2L stud ent D ebo rah Guterman (deborah.
guterman @g1nail.com), and check out h ttp ://
,v,vw.solidar ityacrossborders .org/ en/ a-propos .

5. IMMIGRANT WORKERS

CENTRE

The Imn1igrant , ,vorkers Centr e defends
the rights of in11ni grant ,,vorkers in l\liontreal
and fights for dig11ity,respec t and ju stice. Th e
Centr e is dedicated to protecting the human
rights of everyone from ne,vly arrived immigrant s to tempor ary foreign ,vorkers and
,,vorkers without status . On e key campa ign is
the creat ion of the Temporary Fore i€,>nvVorkers Association, ,,vluch aims to help ten1porary
foreign wor kers to defend the ir own rights and
fight for tl1e right to un ion ize. Th e Ce ntr e is
alway s looking for law students to condu ct legal
research on social protection a11d labour and
in1migration issues. For n1ore infor1nat ion on
volunt eerin g with IWC ch eck out http:/ / iwccti .ca or contact volunt eer coordinator E ric at
ericshr agge@gr nail. co 1n. For information on
the 1' FWA, conta ct .Joey at jcalu gay@g mail.
com . 3L student Renz Grospe ,,vould also be
happ y to ans,,ver any question s on IvVC or
TFVVAat renzgrospe@ya hoo. ca .
I hop e that these suggestions ,,rill help
you to find the practical legal exp erience that
you are lookin g fort

32



Written by Martha
Chertkow,
McGill law alumna



DISORIENTATION

HANDBOOK 2015

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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Photo s and Images from Solidarity Across Borders

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,~,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
33

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

CHECK.TON
PRIVILEGE,
version law school
oici un e liste non -exl1austive de privileges de ra ce, de genre,
d'ori entation sexu elle, de classe, de cisgenrisme et de validite
s'expr imant clans la faculte de droit . Ils illustrent des inega lites
p ersistant es clans notr e societe, clans notr e systeme educat if, clans le
mi lieu jurid ique et a l\1cG ill.
En prendre consc ience est un e pre1niere etape en vu e de remett re en
question notr e merite, d 'eviter les con1porte1n ents oppressifs, de sout enir
les r evendicat ions des gro upes historiqu ement discrin1ines et de critiquer
les n1eca nism es d'exc lusion endo sses par la facult e de droit.
C ette liste ne do it pa s servir a valider notr e ind ifference ou no s
comport ement5 d 'exc lusion (« je n'ai pas tous les pr ivileges, don e j e
ne suis pas respo nsabl e ))), a susciter un e culpabi lite sterile (« je suis
privi legie -e, done j e suis un e horr ible personne! ») ou encore a valid er
un e con11aissance reductr ice des phenomenes de pouvoir et d 'exc lusion
(«j'a i lu cette liste, done j e sais tout)) ).
Elle se veut plut6t un e invitation a reco nn aitre notr e part icipation
indiv idue lle aux syste1nes collectifs et systemiqu es qui mainti enn ent
les inega lites en place et a s'eduqu er pour mi eux les identifi er et les
deconstrui re.
On ne choisit pas de naitre privilegie-e, mais on herite tout de n1e1ne d'un e
responsabilite, celle de rnettre ses privileges au service de l'egalite.

Alors, quels sont
111esprivileges?
.. .• Photo protected under C reative Con1mons Liscence
34

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DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

~
~

~

~

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J e n'ai jam ais ete le/la seul-e representant -e de
ma race clans un cour s
J e n' ai pas subi de har celement sexuel ou
d'ag ression sexuelle sur le campu s de NlcG ill
OU lors d 'evenements de vie etudiante
Les activites de vie etudiant e, y compri s en
presence d'a lcool, ne me font pas me sentir en
danger a ca use de 1non genr e
Les manif estations de la cultur e du viol a la
faculte (Skit Night, Quid , cours . ..) m e laissent
indifle rent
J e n' ai pas contra cte de prets etudiant s
Nl es par ents pa ient mes frais de scolarite
J 'ai participe a un stage non ren1unere
.J'ai passe ou j e passerai une session a l'et ran ger
Si j 'obtiens un stage tres cont ingent e, personne
ne doutera de mes qua lification s et suppo sera
que j e l'a i obt enu en raison d 'un e politique de
discrim inat ion positive
La majorit e de n1es professeurs son t de la me1n e
ethn ie que mo i
Les bur eaux de 1nes professeurs me sont
accessibles
M eme si mes not es sont n1oyenn es, j' aurai un
mei lleur salair e que mes camarad es d 'un autre
genr e / d'une autre ethnie
On ne rr1'a ja1nai s demande si j'avai s ete
achnis-e a M cG ill grace a un e politiq ue de
discrimination positive
J e suis mes cours clans ma premiere OU deuxieme
langue
J e peux entr er clans la faculte par n'import e
que lle entr ee
J e n'a ij amais ete confondu -e par un -e ca mar ade
ou un-e professeur -e avec un -e autre etudiant -e
simp lement parce que nou s partageons la
mem e ethni e
J 'ai les 1noy ens d'acheter neufs les recueils
.
requ1s pour 1nes cour s
Le harc element sexuel dans le 1nilieu juridiqu e
ne n1'inqu iete pas
Le Barreau n'ope re pas de discri1nination a
mon egard en raison de ma sante mentale

~

~

~
~

~

~

~
~

~

~

J e peux esperer un environn em ent de travail
securitair e et adapt e a mes besoins
On ne m'a ja 1nais de1nande si le met-ier
d'avocat -e eta it trop demandant pour pouvoir
avoir et elever des enfant s
Les mises en situation des exa1nens que j 'ai
pa sses incluai ent des personnages de mon
genre et de mon orientation sexuelle
Les toilettes et casiers non -mixtes ne 1ne posent
pas de probl eme
J e connai s des auteurs/trices de doctri11e qui
me resse1nbl ent au niveau de mes identites
La majorit e des textes ju ridiqu es que j 'ai lus ont
ete redi ges par des repre sentant s de mon genre
M es int ervention s en classe ne sont pas
consider ees con1me illustrant !'opin ion d'un
groupe dont j e fais partie
M es intervention s sont p lus souvent sollicitees,
felicitees, citees et prises comme point de depa rt
d'une discussion par n1es prof esseur -e-s que
celles des n1en1bres d'u11 autre ge11re
.Je suis rar emen t inter ron1pu-e lorsque je
m 'exprim e en classe
J e n'a i pas eu peur qu e des prejuges gachent
me s chan ces d'etre admis -e en droit suite aux
entr evu es des cand idat -e-s
.Je n'ai pas peur que la conna issance de 1non
iclentite de genr e ou de mon orientat ion sexuelle
reduise mes chan ces d 'etre engage-e par un -e
emp loyeur / euse
.Je reconnai s 1non genre dans les textes ou
propos au ma sculin « inclusif »

~

Ecrit par Suzanne Zaccour,
etudiante
en droit a McGill.

35

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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EXCERPT FRO
SPEECH AT
#BLACKLIVES
ATTER
COFFEEHOUSE
Hosted by The Black Law
Students Association,
RADLAW, and The Wo111en
of Colour Collective
February 5th, 2015
SAMANTHEA
On behalf of the Black La,,v Students'
Association, l\1cGill's R adical Law Community,
and the Won1en of Colour Co llective, I 'd like
to than k you all for coming out to this spec ial
celebration of blac k lives and social ju stice.
February 1narks the official month of the
comn1emoration and remembran ce of black
history. Ho, ,vever, it is important for us to realize
that the history of a people ,.vho continue to be
oppressed ca11notbe co nfined to one rr1onth of the
year.
Unfortunat ely, the sad truth is that this
speec h is probably the only tim e that rnany of us
,\rill hea r about black history this 1nonth . , 1Vith
Valentin e's Da y around the corn e1~ our society is
1nore preoccupied with flo,~rers and ca ndy hearts
than ,,ve are \.\rith the har sh realities of a system
that co ntinuou sly marginaliz es and oppresses black
people. Viola D esmond , Corinne Spar ks, l\ll art in
Luth er Kin g, l\llalcolm X, Harriet Tubman ,
Rosa Parks, Frederick D oug lass, l\1ary Ann Shad.
Tho se are our predecessors who fought this fight

36

of freed om so that we could be here today. Th e
list goes on and is so long it could probably fill the
pages of my constitutional la,.vboo k.
Rumain Brisbon, Ta1nir Ri ce, Aka i Gurl ey,
Kaj ieme Powell, Dante Parke1~ Micha el Bro,vn,
J ohn Crawford, Eric Ga rner, Fredy Villanueva,
Sam1ny Yatin1, J er1naine Carby, Yvette Smith,
J ordan Bak er. I'm going to stop here beca use
unfortunat ely, this list could also fill the pages of
my co nstitutiona l la,,v book . Th ese are all nam es
of un arm ed people of colour who ,,vere killed by
police and other la,~, enforc en1ent officials, aln1ost
all of them in 2014, a11d som e of them here in
Canada .
H ere at the l\li cG ill Facu lty of Law, it is our
respo nsibility to speak out on these issues of racial
inju stice and oppress ion . Wh en ,ve leave this faculty
,,ve Mll be among the mo st pr i,rileged in society; ,ve
\.\rill have son1e of the loudest and 1no st prominent
voices to effect chan ge. So I ask you today, ,,vhat
,vill ,,ve use ou r voices for? And how dare ,ve not
use th em to spea k for thos e ,,vho ca nnot spe ak for
themselves? Thi s fight for freedo m did not end Mth
our forefath ers and it shou ld not bee,rinfor us ,,vhen

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

\•ve \•valk out of tl1ese door s in 1-3 years with our
2 degrees. It start s no\v. It start s with you. \ 1Viili
me. With every one of us. 1"he fight for ju stice and
freedom for all is our 1nandate.

broth er~ your sister, your moth er or fath er, your
partner or your child left ii1 the middl e of ilie str eet
for four hour s after iliey have been killed.

*******4 Minutes of Silence*******
LILLIAN
Thank you all for all being here. As ,ve stand
in this Faculty, I would like to acknowl edge iliat
l\1cGill ,vas built on stolen Native land and that the
fow1der of this univ ersity,J ames l\ticGill \•vas a slave
trader .
l-Io\v many of you knew there was slavery in
Canada ?
And how n1any of you have hea rd abo ut tl1e
notoriou s Star light Tour s in Saskatoon?
Thi s was a vicious practice ,vhere Saskatoon
polic e p icked up Native peop le in the 1niddle of
\•vin ter and drov e them outs ide the city, leaving
then1 in ilie b itter cold weather \,,rithout sho es.
Mo st of the peop le fi·oze to death, but son1e have
survived, revealing their horrifi c exper iences, like
Alexu s Young, ,vl1ose p ictu re is up on ilie wa ll.
Th e photos on ilie atrium wa ll comm emorate
victim s of po lice br utality. Th ey are mainly bla ck
peopl e and people of colour ... but also all kinds
of peop le who are targ eted by police b ecau se they
are poor, sick, or have rr1ental illnesses ... targeted
beca use of their gend er or sexuality ... and a ho st
of othe r factors that n1akes ilie1n vuln erabl e to be
at the receiving end of a po lice bullet, a Billy club,
a Taser gun, a po lice car, or fists and boots .
At iliis tim e, \,ve are going to have a mom ent
of silence to honour all those who have lost ilieir
lives to po lice brutality at the hand s of a ra cially
discrin1inatory syste1r1.
vVe are go ing to take four minut es. Thi s 1nay
see1n like a lon g time. Why four minut es? After
polic e officer Darr en vVilson killed Micha el Br own
in Ferguson on August 9, 2014, his bod y \vas left
for FOUR hour s, face down , ,.vith blood strea 1ning
fro1n his head, un der the burnin g sumrn er sun.
Four hour s. Im agine one of your loved ones, your

Thank you so 1nuch for taking iliat ti1ne and
respec ting and honouring victim s of po lice brutality.
Vl1y doe s #Bla ckLivesMat ter here in Canada?

\ 1

It is i1nportant as law stude nts that ,ve recog 1uze
hO\•V institutions of law her e in Canada are
inh erently based on systen1s of oppress ion and that
vve confron t iliese systems and wor k to transfor 1n
then1. It is important to acknow ledg e the ways that
ra cism and po lice brutal ity exist here in Canada.
On the wall of photos, you \•villsee a fact sheet on
po lice violence in the African Canad ian con1munity
since ilie ea rly l 900s .
Thi s vvallis fi.ill of hea rtbreak and loss.
Quil em Regsitr e, a Black 1na11 in l\tiontr eal,
tasered to dea tl1 on O ctober 14, 2007. Police shot
300,000 volts of electr icity into his body in 53
second s.
Or biochem istry researcher Alain Ma gloire,
yet another Black man and fath er killed by police
in l\1ontr eal. M entally ill and ho1neless, he had
previously been turn ed away fro1n several ho spitals
\•vhere he sought help.
And 25-year-old Ana s Benni s, shot by poli ce
\•vhile he ,vas comii1g ho1ne from mo sque in Cote des -Neiges on December 1, 2005 .
And 18-year-old Fredy Villanu eva, killed in a
park in l\1ontreal -No rd on Au611.
1st 8, 2008, ,vlule
p layii1g dice with !us broth er and friend s.
Or Du dley George who ,,vas killed by OPP in
Ippe 1wash P rovincial Park when acting sergea nt
Ken Deane opened fire on m emb ers of th e Stoney
Point Ojib way bai1d, peaceably occup)ring the park
in order to assert their claim to ancestral terr itory
stolen by the federal government durin g v\'v\TII.

37

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Ai1d the tragedy lies not only in the murder
of these peop le, but the impunity tl1at police
forces enjoy and tl1e shocking lack of charges and
convictions of police ,vho have killed unar1ned men
and vvomen.
Canadians often attr ibute police brutality and
rac ism as a US -specific pheno1nenon ... but we
must ackno,~rledge and realize the pervasiveness
of racism and po lice brutality in this country, and
not just ii1 our neighbor to the South, and ho,v
the very foundations of this country are built on
colonial is1n, land appropriat ion, racism and slavery,
and cont inue today.
In the ,-vords of Alicia Garza, one of the cofounders of the #Black Lives Matter movement:
"Black Lives Matter is an ideo logical and
polit ical intervention in a world where Black lives are
systematically and intentionally targeted for demise .
It is an affirmation of Black folks' contribut ions to
this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the
face of deadly oppress ion .. .#BlackLivesMatter
doesn't mean your life isn't importan t- it means
that Black lives, vvhich are seen as ,,vithout value
,,vithin White supremacy, are important to your
liberation ... "
1~hank you so 1nuch fi)r attending
#Blac kLivesMatter Coffeehouse .

this

Written by Samanthea Samuels,
law student at McGill, and Lillian
Boctor, McGill law alumna

38

DISORIENTATION

HANDBOOK 2015

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

CON.MEf••ORA
TING
VICTIMSOF
POLICEBRUTALITY

POUitt
■au,,u""

39

DISORIENTATION HANDBOOK 2015
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

CO
ENT FAIRE
LES CHOSES:
Trues et astuces de rad
MONEY-WISE
Nlon ey is nice when you ,,vant to organ ize som ething rad that needs a little bit of 1noney-o. I-lere
are a fe,-videas:
- LSA: A registered club has to do a budg et
every sen1ester and the LSA will allow a certain
amount of n1oney (depending on th e activities
planned, nu1nber of 1nemb ers, etc .) R adLa"v receives a b it of mon ey but other group s also fund
some rad conferences/ activities/ mat erial (Hum an
Right s Workin g Group, Fen1inist Collective, Aboriginal Law Students' Association, Environn1 ental
La,.vNlcGill, OutLaw, etc.)
- Dea n's Discretionary Fund (DDF): Le doyen
offre du financerr1ent part iculier au debut des sessions. Il suffit de faire une de1nande, en group e ou
ii1dividuelle. Par le passe, R adLa"v a pu assister a
des conferences sans trop de fi·ais!
- CDO: A good pla ce to go ,,vhen you're organizing a little son1ethmg (especially caree r related
stuff). We did a "R adical Lawyering Panel" in the
past!
- QPIRG: QPIRG ~11cGill fund s action -oriented research that support s the ir mandat e of social
ju stice and environm ental activis1n. Th ey provid e
several avenues for securin g fi.1nding and suppor t,
enablin g a diversity of group s and acto rs to partic ipat e: http ://qpirg1ncgill .org/ resources/ fundin g/
- SSMU: L'extern e du SSMU nou s a deja fourni en baton s, ca rton s et crayons de couleur pour
realiser des affiches pour des manif s. Des etudiant-e-s ont aussi re<;u du financement pour des
t-shirt s fabriqu es en soutien aux en1ploye-e-s de
soutien en greve a l'a utomn e 20 11.

40

- Approch er un- e professeur -e: Ce rtain- e-s
profs travaillent sur des sujet s progressistes et sont
ouvert -e-s a do11ner un e co1uerence OU a fournir
des ressources.

COURSEPACKS
Al1 la folie des cour sepac ks (recueils) trop chers et
trop lourds! \ Toici quelques astuces:
- D 'a bord, des etudiant- e-s de la fac se sont
penche -e-s sur la question du droit d' auteur et du
pr ix des recueils au fameux bookstore de NlcG ill:
http://cra cktheco ursepack.tumblr. com
- D en1ander a des etudiant- e-s des a11nees
sup erieures. Certain s cour sepac ks sont tres sin1ilaires d'une ann ee a l'autr e (surtout ceux des cour s
obligato ires). Look on the Noti ce Board , ask around
and pay a lower p rice.
- Buy the cour sepack with a bun ch of people
and n1ake cop ies. Th e librar y might also hold a
copy of the coursepack so you ,.von't have to buy it
in the first p lace. \tVe n ever told you that .
- The library has a lot of books and some are
availab le online (ex. Les obligations par Baudoin
et J obin ). Th e Biblioth eque national e (banq.q c.ca)
has a large selection of la"v books too (en fran 9ais
pour la plupart ).
'
- you can be- COO P-UQ ANI:
for a 25$ fee,
,
con1e a memb er of Coop -UQANI (and that' s for
life). UQM' 11 has a law bookstore ,,vhere you can
find/ order a bun ch of law books .

Written by Dominique Boutin,
McGill law alumna

DISORIENTATION

HANDBOOK 2015

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Radical
"Coffee Hous e: I-fabitu s and Per formance Among Lavv Students"
by Desmond Nlanderson and Sarah
T urner
"For T hose Cons idering La"v Schoo l"
by Dean Spade
"Letter to a Student Interested in Social.Justic e" by William P Q)-ligley
"Teaching Local 1330: Reflections
on Critical Legal Pedago 6,y" by K arl
Kl are
"vVhen the First Quail Calls: Mu ltiple Consciousness as J urisprudential
Nlethod " by l\li ari :rvt:atsuda

SeeingLike a S'tate:How CertainSchemes
to ImjJro
ve the I-luman ConditionI-lave
Fai/,
ed by J ames Scott
"On So1ne of the Affects of Capital ism" by Bruno Latour

RebelliousLawyering
: One C/zicam1\Vision qf Progressive
Law Practiceby Ger ald L6pez

Reads
Adil Charkaoui 's poen1 in UndoingBorder
Imperialismby I-Iarsha Walia
"Confronting Power: Aboriginal Wom en and .Justice Refor1n" by Patricia
Monture
"Sa fer Sex Work: The Case for Decrim inal ization" by Robyn lvfaynard
"Alchemical Notes : Reconstructing Ide als fi-om D econstructed Right s" by Patricia \ 1\lilliams

Toward a Fe1ninistTheo1yqf' the State by
Catharine l\li acKinnon
"T he Courtroo 1n and the Street: Not es
on Activist E ncounters with the La"v"
by the Upping the Anti Editorial Co 1n mittee [Along ,vith a response rejecting
it: "T he Law's Fundamentally Violent
Chara cter " by Irina Cer ic]
"D ecolonizing Tog ether: lvioving Beyond a Politics of Solidarity To,vard a
Pra ctice of Decolonization" by H arsha
\ 1Valia

Le Caj)italau XXI e siecleby Thomas
Piketty

Red Skin, TrVhiteMasks: Rrfiectingthe Colonial Politics <!fRecognitionby Glen Sean
Coulthard

The Justice qf Jvferryby Linda Ross
lvi eyer

PerilsandPossibilities: SocialActivis,nandthe
Law by Byron Sheldrick

"La,,v as Rl1etoric, Rh eto ric as Law:
Th e Art s of Cu ltural and Communal
Life" by J ames Boyd Whit e

41

DISORIENTAT ION HANDBOOK 20 15
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Radical

ord Search

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DISORIENTATION

HANDBOOK 2015

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,

I

WORDS:
Accessibility
Dialogue
Education
lntersectional
Privilege
Solidarity
Collective
Disorientation
Empowerment
Multiplicity
Queer
Sustainability

..

Democracy
Diversity
Feminism
Participatory
Rights
Tolerance

,...
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43

ABOUT

RADLAW
Le regroupement Radla, ,v a ete fonde en septembre 2001. 11
desire ii1citer !es etudiant -e-s a collaborer avec !es organisations
montreaiaises afin de les encourager a developper des relations egaiitaires avec la comn1unaute au lieu de s'iinpliquer en
tant qu'experts . Nous rejetons le discours juridique liberal et
nous re1nettons en question les normes adn1ises par la theor ie
et la pratique juridiques dans la mesure ou elles perpetuent et
recreent des structures de domination et de subordination dans
la societe. D ans le passe, nous avons offert notre appui au per sonne l de soutien de McGill en greve, nous nous so1nmes n10bilise-e-s cont re la hausse des frais de scolarite du gouvernement
Charest et contre la j udiciarisation du droit par le gouve rnen1ent
Harper . \ 1\Teen1brace modes of social orga11ization based on direct and participatory democracy that provide the means for
self-detern1ination and grassroots empo, ,verment. \ 1Ve organize
conferences, filn1 screenings, ,,vorkshops and activism "vithin the
Faculty on migrant justice, labour issues, queer struggles and issues of race and class, among other things. Everyone is welcome
to attend our 1neetings and to get involved in all events. Notre regroupe 1nent d'etudiant -e-s est ouvert a tous !es etudiant-e -s. Les
etudiant -e-s interesse -e-s a part iciper au regroupement doivent
accepter notre convention d 'unite. J oignez -vous a nous et part agez VOS idees, participez a nos activites et prenez la rue avec
nous de te1nps en temps.

Item sets