Professor Reem A. Bahdi Received The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Guthrie Award
Professor Reem A. Bahdi, University of Windsor, is the 2017 recipient of The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Guthrie Award, in recognition of her work as an author, researcher and human rights expert, with a specific focus on the human rights of Arabs and Muslims in Canada.
Established in 1996, the Guthrie Award was created by The Law Foundation of Ontario to recognize exceptional access to justice champions, while honouring the Foundation’s former Trustee and Chair H. Donald Guthrie. Now in its 20th year, the Guthrie Award continues to acknowledge outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions to access to justice and excellence in the legal profession.
“Professor Bahdi has seized the opportunity to work on complex and cutting edge access to justice issues,” says Linda Rothstein, the Foundation’s Board Chair. “She has dedicated her life to changing hearts, minds and systems to champion human rights. And, remarkably, it seems she is just getting started.”
Professor Bahdi served as Associate Dean of Windsor Law from 2012 to September 2015. Her research concentrates on the human rights dimensions of national security laws and policies in Canada, and on access to justice in the Palestinian context. She was the Canadian Bar Association’s first Equality Advisor and was a significant facilitator in the creation of the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association.
The Guthrie Award was presented to Professor Bahdi at a reception at the Law Society of Upper Canada on December 5, 2017. In her introduction, Ms. Rothstein spoke of Professor Bahdi’s passion and commitment to contextualizing discrimination, and of her ethos of access to justice in the fabric and curriculum of Windsor Law.
Professor Bahdi delivered a thoughtful speech on the importance of empathy and reconciliation in the access to justice. “I am confident that we need to think more about how to advance empathy in the law in the pursuit of conscious objectivity, and lucky enough to be working with a group of musicians and dramatic artists whose hope also involves empathy,” she said. Over the next year, Professor Bahdi will be joining forces with law professors across the country to examine whether and how empathy might be taught in law school using music and the performance arts.
The Law Society is dedicated to supporting access to justice initiatives through The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG), established in 2014. With funding from The Law Foundation of Ontario and support from the Law Society, TAG works with a range of justice (institutional, political and community) stakeholders to develop meaningful, public-centred solutions that advance systemic change.
Established by statute in 1974, The Law Foundation of Ontario is the sole foundation in Ontario with the mandate of improving access to justice. The Foundation’s main source of revenue is interest received from lawyers’ and paralegals’ mixed trust accounts. Other sources of revenue are cy-près awards and investment income. Through granting and collaboration, the Foundation invests in knowledge and services that help people understand the law and use it to improve their lives.