Faculty of Law Statement on Racism

19 June 2020

On June 17, we held our first ever remote version of Law Convocation. It was a wonderful opportunity to offer congratulations to our graduates and to participate in the celebrations. However, the observation was inescapable that our students are graduating in a time of economic and social turbulence.

After years of unsettling reports, the Black Lives Matter movement continues to vividly expose the racism that exists in our society. Events in Alberta and across Canada in the last three weeks have provided sickening examples of how the legal system all too often treats Indigenous people and other racialized persons. We know these instances are extremely painful for many of us, and particularly affect Black, Indigenous and racialized students, staff, faculty and alumni.

The Faculty of Law supports President Turpin’s statement of the position of the University of Alberta on racism: https://blog.ualberta.ca/statement-u-of-a-stands-in-solidarity-against-racism-2fdb2e77ee45

However, we also recognize that law schools are part of a legal system which has allowed the perpetuation of racism. As part of Canada’s legal community, we stand against racial injustice and renew our longstanding commitment to promote the values of diversity, equality and inclusion within the walls of the law school, the justice system, and the broader society.

The surging global movement against racism will be prominent in the minds of students and faculty when term begins in September. Thinking about and researching injustice in its varied and pernicious forms is part and parcel of what a good legal education must confront, and has long been included in the teaching and scholarship at the Faculty of Law. This work continues and we remain committed to enhancing opportunities to engage with these problems. Students and Faculty are called upon to address what it means for lawyers and law students to participate in a legal system which has failed to achieve its constantly avowed expectation of equality before the law. The law school itself must also look in the mirror to ensure that it meets its obligation to avoid the perpetuation of racism.

Recent events have created a widely felt impetus for a long overdue change in Canadian society. Participating in and fostering this change will be a vital part of the function of law school next term and for years to come.


David R. Percy, QC
Interim Dean

Barbara Billingsley
Dean Elect