Interview: Black Law Students’ Association member Samanthea Samuels

Montreal Gazette, February 24, 2016

Samanthea Samuels… says she asks herself regularly why there isn’t more such activism in Montreal. Originally from Toronto, Samuels is a candidate in McGill’s Faculty of Lawpast president of the Black Students Network of McGill, an executive member of the Black Law Students Association of McGill, and the Black Law Students Association of Canada’s vice-president for Quebec.

She suggests part of the answer lies in class issues and cultural backgrounds.

For example, she says, “I notice there is more insistence on obeying laws and fitting in and not rocking the boat among some African and Haitian immigrants. If you don’t have a strong connection to the place and a sense of belonging, if you are a new immigrant, you don’t want to stir the pot.”

Also, a number of the young black students studying at McGill are foreign students from wealthier backgrounds, so they may have been sheltered from flagrant discrimination, she suggests. Keep reading

Opinion: Cindy Blackstock’s victory shows the value of our institutions

Mark Dance, Montreal Gazette, March 3, 2016

MarkDance-150x150Sometimes in the public life of this country, the hand that inflicts the wound can also be a force for healing.

The historic decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal calling for the end of discriminatory underfunding of child and family services for First Nations is assuredly a story of grassroots activism and non-governmental action — but it’s also a textbook example of how even a depleted government can help undo its most egregious mistakes.

First Nations and Family Caring Society executive director Cindy Blackstock filed a grievance on behalf of on-reserve indigenous children in 2007, pointing to their deplorable lack of access to basic child welfare services, underfunded by up to 38 per cent relative to the southern Canadian baseline. Keep reading

(NDLR: Cindy  Blackstock was at the Faculty of Law on February 17 to give a lecture titled Reconciliation means not having to say sorry twice: Implications of the historic ruling of the CHRT for reconciliation. Read the write-up of the event by student Jeanelle Dundas)

The Canadian Bar Association: Supplementing Law School with a Dose of Reality

Jan Dobrosielski, ABC Québec,  29 février 2016

It’s a well-known fact that the first-year of law school is a challenge. Most of us arrive with plans to change the world, but, by the time the second semester is drawing to a close, we are concerned only with making it through the next round of exams. The law, it turns out, is an infinitely complex web of principles and decisions that require near-total immersion from us if we are to understand them. The weeks fly by in a blur of rulings and ratios, and the first-year student soon begins to lose sight of what brought them to the study of law in the first place.

But there is more than the hectic pace of law school that makes it a small wonder that any of us are able to remember what our professional goals were when we set ourselves upon this path. There is also the fact that law school constantly exposes the student to new professional opportunities, and it soon becomes difficult to separate the ardent aspirations that we held prior to studying law from the amazing possibilities that we were introduced to only recently. Keep reading