Access to justice by and for equality-seeking groups: Professor Anne Levesque wins Knowledge Mobilization Excellence Award

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Equality law

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

Anne Levesque
Professor Anne Levesque is the 2022 recipient of the University of Ottawa's Knowledge Mobilization Excellence Award in the Early Career Researchers category. This honour comes in recognition of the initiatives she has undertaken through the Equality Law Clinic (“the Clinic”), which she founded and has managed at the Common Law Section since July 2019.

Tackling some of the most pressing equality rights issues of our time, including climate justice, reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, the Equality Law Clinic offers law students the opportunity to collaborate with equality-seeking groups seeking to assert their rights in a context of experiential learning and action research.

Over the past three years, a myriad of knowledge mobilization initiatives have been conducted with the help and support of the Clinic. For example, in January 2020, the Clinic, with the invaluable support of Professor Eva Ottawa of the Civil Law Section, represented the Atikamekw Council of Manawan, Joyce Echaquan's home community, as it sought “justice for Joyce”. More recently, the Clinic has collaborated with the Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic, located near the US border, on the issue of the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement and its detrimental impact on French-speaking asylum seekers and the Francophone community of Ontario. “According to the Agreement, asylum seekers who enter Canada through a port of entry on the southern border are automatically turned back to the United States,” explains Professor Levesque. “The Clinic has conducted legal research that has concluded that the refusal of a large number of asylum applications contravenes Canada’s obligations to promote the vitality of Francophone minority communities, which depend on immigration for renewal”. The impact of the Clinic's work on this file has been tangible; it has presented arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada and will file a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages.

These are just two examples of the many projects the Clinic has undertaken since its founding in 2019. Articles published on The Conversation about the Clinic's projects have made Professor Levesque one of the University of Ottawa’s most widely read contributors with more than 173,000 views.

Professor Levesque and the Clinic team
Professor Levesque and the Clinic team

The Knowledge Mobilization Excellence Award recognizes researchers whose work has made a real impact and engaged knowledge users throughout the research and knowledge mobilization processes. The Award is accompanied by a $7,000 prize from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Exchange Grant program in support of new knowledge mobilization activities. The winner of this year’s award in the Mid-Career or Established Researchers category is Charlotte Karam of the Telfer School of Management.

The Clinic's short history has proven that students of the Faculty of Law are willing and able to offer valuable support to equality-seeking groups through tailored access to justice services. With her prize funding, Professor Levesque will aim to create better teaching tools and to offer an even richer learning experience to a greater number of students at the Clinic.

The Common Law Section congratulates Professor Levesque for the important initiatives she is undertaking within the Clinic!