Black History Month 2020: Commemorating Christie v. York, 80 Years On

Saturday, February 29, 2020 13:00to17:00
Chancellor Day Hall Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA
Free, but RSVP required.

You are invited by to a symposium commemorating the 80th anniversary of the battle Mr. Fred Christie fought for racial justice in Montreal, and examining the present-day situation of racism and the law in Canada.

In 1939, Mr. Fred Christie, a member of the African Canadian community of Montreal, brought his case to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge lower courts’ decisions that upheld the Montreal tavern’s freedom of commerce and right to deny services to Black persons. His case is of particular significance to the McGill bicentenary, as it was championed by Union United Church members, through a Christie Defence Committee led by the second Black professor at McGill University, Dr. Kenneth Melville. Although the case was ultimately unsuccessful, the infamous pre-human rights Charter/ code decision, Christie v. York Corporation, [1940] SCR 139 has been widely taught in Canadian law schools, and remains a sobering reminder of law’s indeterminacy.

In order to commemorate this important chapter in Canadian legal history, to honour Mr. Christie and the Black community’s valiant battle for judicial recognition of their human rights and dignity, the McGill Faculty of Law and the Labour Law and Development Research Laboratory, the Centre for Research and Action on Race Relations, and the Union United Church will co-host, on the last day of Black History Month, an afternoon symposium on Mr. Christie’s case.

The symposium will feature two panels (13:00-16:45): the first panel will focus on the life and times of Mr. Christie, and the second will focus on present-day racism and the law in Canada.

Amongst other speakers, the program will feature Mr. Terry Brazill, Mr. Christie’s grandson, and include presentations by the Hon. Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, Quebec’s first Black judge (ret.); Professor Barrington Walker, a foremost historian of African Canadian legal history and Me Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Dean Robert Leckey of the McGill Faculty of Law will preside one of the panels.

The symposium will followed by a reception (17:00-18:00) in the Atrium.

Kindly register on EventBrite.

This event is eligible for inclusion as 3h 45m of continuing legal education as reported by members of the Barreau du Québec.

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