Asking new questions: Four researchers from the Civil Law Section earn funding to take law research to fascinating new places

Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Professors Mariève Lacroix, Sarah Berger Richardson, Pascale Cornut St-Pierre and Julie Paquin have each received Insight Development Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for projects that explore bold new directions in how law relates to death, food, finance and academic freedom.

Professor Lacroix received her Insight Development Grant for her project “La guerre des cendres: une approche juridique des cendres humaines au Québec”, which will delve into the legal aspects of human ashes. The project arrives in the wake of a new legal regime in Quebec created by the 2019 Funeral Activities Act, which is the first such act to deal with human ashes in Quebec. By engaging in dialogue with jurists and thanatologists, Professor Lacroix aims to provide the first legal analysis of human ashes in Quebec – a timely contribution given the marked increase in the use of cremation in Quebec in the last 10 years. This research will improve cremation practices, identify criteria for courts interpreting Quebec’s new law, and help to guide policy for the province’s Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Professor Berger Richardson received her Insight Development Grant for a project entitled “Speed kills: the impact of slaughter line speeds on worker safety and animal welfare in Canada”. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, slaughterhouses have been at the epicentre of disease transmission. Many slaughterhouses have been accused of ignoring physical distancing protocols and even ramping up production. This project submits the regulation of slaughter line speeds to ethical scrutiny. Line speed has received virtually no attention in legal scholarship in Canada. Drawing on data gathered during interviews with federal food safety inspectors, veterinary inspectors and union representatives in the meatpacking sector, Professor Berger Richardson will analyze how line speed conditions shape the experiences of the workers and animals who coexist on the kill floor.

Professor Pascale Cornut St-Pierre received a grant from the Insight Development program for a project entitled “La titrisation verte entre transition écologique et financiarisation de l'économie : enquête sociojuridique sur une technique émergente de la finance durable”, which explores how a sustainable and environmentally-friendly economy can be supported by the private sector. The investments required to fight climate change are colossal and exceed the financial capacities of states alone. Following calls from the international community and central banks, bankers, asset managers and lawyers are developing a range of instruments intended to direct capital towards projects promising positive environmental impacts. This project aims to critically examine the terms under which the private financial sector currently contributes to financing the ecological transition, analyzing how sustainable finance redistributes rights, obligations and the financial and environmental risks between its various players.

Finally, Professor Julie Paquin has earned an Insight Development Grant for her project “Libres propos sur la liberté académique: exploration du potentiel du balado comme mode de production et de diffusion de la recherche universitaire sur l'Université”, which explores how podcasts might be used to spark dialogue around academic freedom. Academic freedom is generally regarded as essential in enabling universities to fulfill their mission of education and the advancement of knowledge. But there are currently significant divisions among members of the academic community as to the exact scope of the concept of academic freedom. This project aims to bring a new level of transparency to the issue through podcasting. 

SSHRC Insight Development Grants support research in its initial stages, enabling the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and ideas.

Congratulations to these exceptional researchers!

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