Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

February 14, 2008 16:03 ET

Media Advisory - Legal Profession Commemorates 200th Anniversary of Abolition of Slave Trade at International Conference

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2008) - The Law Society of Upper Canada, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and Black Law Students' Association of Canada, along with the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, are hosting a reception to mark the 200th Anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade - a featured event of the international conference "Routes to Freedom: Reflections on the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade."

The reception will feature The Honourable Madam Justice Rosalie S. Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada, who will share her reflections on the historic moment and readings from M. NourbeSe Adamu Philip, a poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and lawyer. NourbeSe Philip is an award-winning writer who authored the poem Zong! - A story of the murder of one hundred and fifty Africans on the slave ship Zong in 1781.

The "Routes to Freedom" conference, funded by the Government of Ontario, is being held in Ottawa, March 14-16, 2008. It celebrates the elimination of slavery in the British Empire and discusses its impact on institutional and societal racism. Legal academics, historians, political economists and international writers will speak to the historic realities of the transatlantic slave trade, celebrate the accomplishments of African peoples and heighten awareness of the complexities of current conditions for the descendants of that pivotal historic moment.



Reception Friday, March 14, 2008 18:30 to 20:30 Ottawa Court House Atrium 161 Elgin Street, Ottawa, ON

Admission to the reception is free. Attendance must be confirmed and is subject to space availability. An RSVP is required by phone: 1-800-668-7380, ext. 3413, 416-947-3413, or e-mail

Conference March 14-16, 2008 University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law Fauteux Hall, 57 Louis Pasteur Street Gowlings Moot Court Rooms

For more details and to register for the conference, please visit: and go to the Conference - Registration sections.

The conference is chaired by Professor Joanne St. Lewis from the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, who recently received the DreamKEEPERS' Life Achievement award from the Canadian Martin Luther King Coalition.

Other featured events associated with the "Routes to Freedom" conference




Mini film festival (March 1-2, 2008)

- The Jock Turcot University Centre, University of Ottawa; admission $2

- Several featured short- and full-length films will precede the conference, including documentaries A Winter Tale, Strange Fruit, Amazing Grace and Return to Gorée Island

Art Exhibit (March 7-22, 2008)

- The Cube Gallery in Ottawa, 7 Hamilton Avenue North

- Featuring ten contemporary African-Canadian artists, whose Honorary Patron is the Honourable Roy McMurtry, former Chief Justice of Ontario

Youth Forum (Friday, March 14, 2008)

- 60 Ottawa-area youth, aged 14 to 18, will share their views on the slave trade and its consequences in both Ontario and Canada. They will watch a film about slavery, become jurors in a mock slave trial, learn about laws affecting child labour and discuss what can be done on a community level to help children in other countries. Professor St. Lewis will develop a teaching guide for high school teachers based upon the conference materials.

Multi-disciplinary, two-and-a-half-day symposium (Saturday, March 15,


- Featuring a panel of legal academics, historians, political economists and writers from Canada, the United States, Africa, Europe, and Asia

- Discussions include the historic realities of the transatlantic slave trade, contemporary forms of resistance, women and slave resistance, culture and identity, as well as functional amnesia.

- Celebrated author Lawrence Hill will read an extract from his best- selling book, The Book of Negroes

Gala (Saturday, March 15, 2008)

- Fairmont Château Laurier

- Presided over by a well-known human rights activist

- Scholarship for LL.B. student and a fellowship for a Doctoral student from Africa to be announced

The Law Society is pleased to once again partner with the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and the Black Law Students' Association of Canada to promote equity and diversity in the legal profession and increase awareness and understanding of issues relating to the rights and needs of equality-seeking communities. Ensuring access to justice and creating a more representative and inclusive legal profession remains a priority for the Law Society.

Media interested in attending are encouraged to confirm their attendance in advance if possible, to help ensure adequate space and audio requirements.

Contact Information

  • Media contacts: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor, Law Society of Upper Canada, (416) 947-7605,; Amanda Leslie, Communications Officer, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, (613) 562-5800 ext. 2832,