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U of T Law Hosts 2022 Edition of Canadian Animal Law Conference

Members of the U of T Law Animal Justice club discuss their experiences at this year’s conference

On September 16–18, U of T Law hosted the fourteenth annual Canadian Animal Law Conference (CALC). It was a welcome return to an in-person format after hosting the conference virtually for the past two years. 

The weekend was very impactful for educators, legal professionals, animal advocates, and students alike. As Camille Labchuk, Executive Director of Animal Justice put it, “the annual Canadian Animal Law Conference brings together people from across Canada and around the world to share expertise on how to use the law to better protect animals. The stimulating discussion, high-calibre speakers, and knowledge-sharing is unparalleled and the growth of the conference reflects the general growth of the field of animal law.” 

The weekend kicked off on Friday with the Scholar’s Track, hosted in collaboration with the North American Animal Law Conference. Presentations were given by academics from across the world. Professors Angela Fernandez and John Borrows presented on topics including “Animals as Property, Quasi-Property or Quasi-Person” and “Animals in Law in Relation to Indigenous Law”, respectively. This day was unique as each talk was hosted by an individual scholar, giving the opportunity for longer-form presentations. 

The second and third days featured interactive panels with presenters from a variety of backgrounds including solicitors, academics, and animal rights activists. There were a range of  presenters with panels scheduled concurrently. With so many fascinating topics, it was a challenge to decide which to attend! Luckily, the variety of presentations meant there was something for everyone at this conference. Whether your passion lies in exotic animal issues, agricultural animal issues, or companion animal issues, you could find multiple sessions to peak your interest. Adjunct Professor Alexi Wood was part of “Ag Gag: Legal Political and Social Implications of Exposing Factory Farms,” bringing the number of presenters from U of T Law Faculty members in attendance to three. Some other notable speakers included professors from Toronto Metropolitan University, Lakehead University, Dalhousie University, and Harvard University.

Aside from the amazing speakers, the conference offered attendees wonderful swag bags and food over the duration of the event. Some swag bag highlights included LUSH bath bombs, collapsible Brooks Institute branded water bottles, vegan treats, and Eggcitables—a vegan egg substitute to try vegan cooking at home! Snacks and lunch provided at the conference also served as an opportunity to teach non-vegan attendees how delicious vegan food can be. 

Overall, the conference was an incredible success. As students in our first and second years at the Faculty of Law, we both found that there was a lot to be learned. The networking opportunities were also amazing—being able to have discussions with top scholars in a field we are just breaking into was incredibly rewarding. One of Olivia’s highlights of the weekend was learning about the allyship opportunities between Indigenous peoples and the animal rights community. Emily enjoyed seeing the way different areas of law intersect with animal law, including family law and labour law. Lucky for us, experiences like this don’t need to wait until next year. The U of T Animal Justice club will be hosting events throughout the year, including a vegan Thanksgiving, film screenings, and talks with animal law scholars from around the world. If you would like to learn more about the club and how to get involved, email ajstudents6@gmail.com. We look forward to connecting with you!

Attendees participate in one of many animal law lectures. Credit: Ryann Fineberg

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