Canadian Bar Association awards Lakehead Law Professor grant for comparative human rights

Professor Miriam Cohen's photo.

April 7, 2017 – Thunder Bay, ON

Assistant Professor Miriam Cohen in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is the first person at Lakehead University to receive this competitive research grant from the Canadian Bar Association’s Law for the Future Fund.

Cohen was recently awarded $23,500 to create a database comparing human rights decisions from across Canada.

“The idea for this project came during my own research, when I often found it challenging to access cases concerning human rights in different jurisdictions,” Cohen said.

“To deliver and improve human rights in Canada we must inform, educate, and discuss. Yet, access to accurate, timely and high-quality information on human rights doctrine and practice in Canada is not widely available,” she said, adding that she hopes her research will change that.

Cohen’s research project includes the creation of an accessible research database on leading human rights decisions from tribunals across Canada and a scholarly article analyzing the case law on equality rights.

“My project will bridge the knowledge gap in human rights law in Canada by offering relevant and timely treatment of key human rights cases across the country, and draw some comparative analysis of how provinces align or diverge in their decisions on the interpretation of human rights, and what challenges lie ahead,” she said.  

Cohen’s research project aims to create a database with leading human rights cases, organized by theme, from jurisdictions across Canada. The goal is to provide a user-friendly tool for judges, practitioners, scholars, teachers and students to access and learn about human rights in Canada, from a comparative perspective. The database will be open-access and free of charge.

At the second stage, Cohen will use the database to compare and contrast human rights law in different jurisdictions in Canada and provide the results of this analysis in an article, drawing on lessons from a comparative perspective and making recommendations for future development.

She said the database is currently being created through a compilation and analysis of relevant laws and cases and it should be available to the public by the end of this year.

Students from the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law will help build the database, which is also a way for them to learn more about human rights and engage with human rights issues in Canada.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our law students,” said Dean Angelique EagleWoman of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.  “Professor Cohen’s work will broaden their understanding of the development of human rights across Canada.”

The Law for the Future Fund grant is awarded annually to a limited number of Canadian researchers for innovative and timely research projects in the field of law, supporting Canadian research projects of national interest that are of benefit to the general public.

 “Human Rights is one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated issues of our times,” said George Hendy, Chair of the Law for the Future Fund. “LFFF is pleased to support an initiative which helps bring increased awareness to human rights law in Canada.”


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Lakehead University has about 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities. Visit