Lakehead University presents panel discussion “Vaccine and the Charter”

September 17, 2021 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

The global pandemic has ignited debate about the constitutionality of mandatory vaccinations. On September 23, Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law will host an expert panel to delve into vaccine mandates and discuss legalities around the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Open to the public, the session, “Vaccine Mandates and the Charter”, will feature Dr. Mariette Brennan, Associate Professor in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, and Dr. Vanessa Gruben, Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. The panel will be hosted by Dr. Jula Hughes, Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.

The session will be held on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 12 pm. Questions will be taken via chat during the webinar.

The panel will be conducted via Zoom. Register at

Meet the Panel:


Dr. Jula Hughes is the Dean of Law at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. The recipient of multiple research grants, Dr. Hughes has published extensively in Canadian and international journals, has contributed chapters to various selections of essays and is a regular speaker at international, national and regional conferences. Her research focuses on judicial ethics, particularly the law and practice of judicial disqualification, criminal law, particularly the application of criminal law to marginalized populations, and Aboriginal law, particularly the legal recognition of and provision of services to off-reserve and non-status Aboriginal people.


Dr. Mariette Brennan is an Associate Professor at Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. Dr. Brennan completed her Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa and was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2004. Following her call to the Bar, Brennan moved to England to pursue her LL.M at the University of Essex in international human rights law. She completed her thesis on the international right to health under the supervision of then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to the highest attainable standard of health, Paul Hunt. Mariette graduated with distinction in 2006; in 2012, she received her PhD from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.  In 2008, Dr. Brennan began her academic career with the Faculty of Law, Bond University (QLD, Australia).  She returned to Canada in 2013 and was a founding faculty member of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.  In 2015, she was appointed as a stipendiary assistant professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Dr. Brennan’s research interests currently lie in the intersection of constitutional law and public health law.

Dr. Vanessa Gruben B.Sc.H (Queen’s), LL.B. (Ottawa), LL.M. (Columbia) is an Associate Professor and a member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include legal and ethical issues regarding professional regulation, assisted reproduction, organ donation and harm reduction. She is co-editor of the 5th edition of Canada’s leading health law text, Canadian Health Law and Policy, with Joanna Erdman and Erin Nelson (LexisNexis, 2017). Her most recent book is Surrogacy in Canada: Critical Perspectives in Law and Policy, co-edited with Alana Cattapan and Angela Cameron (Irwin Law, 2018). Her research has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian Blood Services and the Foundation for Legal Research. She is formerly a member of the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board and the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. Professor Gruben teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Health Law, Public Health Law as well as a seminar on Access to Health Care.

Gruben’s research focuses on the legal regulation of various aspects of assisted human reproduction including contractual disputes over frozen embryos, privacy and access to information, gamete donor anonymity, the regulation and funding of assisted reproductive technologies, and the constitutionality of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Her research also includes health law more generally as well as the protection of language rights in Canada. In addition to her research work, Gruben has appeared on behalf of Amnesty International Canada before the Supreme Court of Canada in Charkaoui v. Canada, [2007] 1 S.C.R. 350; Charkaoui v. Canada, [2008] 2 S.C.R. 326; and Khadr v. Canada, [2010] SCC 3 and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. She is also a member of the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board and the Health Services Appeal and Review Board.


Media:  For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Jaclyn Bucik, Media, Communications & Marketing Associate, at 705-330-4010 ext. 2014 or

Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2020 World Universities Rankings for the second consecutive year, and 99th among 1,115 universities from around the world in THE's 2021 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit