Post Card From Canada: The University of Victoria’s Conference on Discrimination 2008
On 4 March 2008, the law students at the University of Victoria, British Columbia came together for their first annual student-led conference on equity, diversity and the law. Priscilla Feral and Lee Hall — Friends of Animals’ president and legal director — attended to support this outstanding effort and contribute the perspective of nonhuman rights. Thanks to law students Cara Hunt, Joey Fearon, and UVic’s animal law club (“UVic Student ALDF”), the thought-provoking conference had a strong animal-oriented component, and all the food was vegan.
The conference covered many diverse topics. To name just a few, sessions addressed migrant workers’ rights, discrimination against Indigenous Women by the Indian Act as well as nonhuman rights. The latter was the first event to air the major points in Lee Hall’s forthcoming book, and the title of the 60-minute talk was “The Right To Be Let Alone: What Animal Rights Theory Should (and Shouldn’t) Say About Equal Rights.”
This discussion focused on domination, and what nonhuman personhood would do to change and transcend the current social hierarchies. Lee also offered an overview of how theorists have engaged discrimination questions in their philosophical and legal work.
Lee then presented a vision of how the best of animal-rights theory can be integrated into activism, and develop in ways that provide answers to society’s most urgent questions during a time of climate disruption. The intent is to offer activists a way to firmly grip the importance of nonhuman beings’ interest in freedom to live on their terms. The right to be let alone, while not entirely unseen in human rights law, is a new and vital path to understanding justice between species.
This was Lee’s second law conference at UVic — the first being a plenary talk on the application of anti-terrorism law to activists in “Alert Status Red: Animal Rights at the Epicentre of Law Morality & Terror” (2nd Annual UVic Animal Law Conference, Feb. 2007).
After this year’s conference, the student animal law club and our own Canadian Correspondent Dave Shishkoff guided us to the Lotus Pond, a restaurant in lively downtown Victoria. We can recommend the Lotus Pond for its excellent vegan food and most welcoming atmosphere. The shitake mushrooms in basil sauce were heavenly.