The lived experience of law

Starting today, McGill will host the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada (BLSAC)’s national conference, entitled “Partnering For Progress and Unprecedented Possibilities.”

Conference events will range from the practical (a panel on acing your LSATs) to the political (a discussion of the killing of Fredy Villanueva).

The national conference has grown from its modest beginnings in 1992, when the conference was attended by Ontario law students and a handful of delegates from outside the province. This year, law students, journalists, and high school students will attend.

Speakers from fields as diverse as criminal law and post-secondary education will deliver presentations on racial tensions in Montreal Nord, poverty, and globalization. The speakers’ docket is an impressive one: the first appointed black judge of the Court of Quebec, district of Montreal, a Grenadan senator, and a Montreal Gazette photojournalist who’s reported from Haiti and Rwanda.

An essay by BSLA McGill’s VP (internal) featured on the group’s web site slams the McGill Reporter’s recent coverage of student internships in impoverished regions of Africa. The essay’s author, Annamaria Enenajor, laments the Reporter’s simplistic story, which fails to offer the “possibility of feelings more complex than pity.”

In the conclusion of her essay, Enenajor writes, “Race matters, history matters, wealth matters” – the feel-good journalism offered by the Reporter ignores the influence that these factors have had on Africa’s development, and its continuing struggles today.

The conference – and Enenajor’s essay – speaks to BLSA McGill’s goal of examining the lived experience of the legal system: how it affects minorities, who it benefits, who it hurts, and how it is far more than just rules written in dusty books.

The conference runs from today through Sunday at the downtown Best Western.

—Stephen Davis