The following is a list of Canadian scholars who have published on the history of human rights. This list is focussed on scholars with expertise in history and the concept of human rights.

Click here for an up-to-date list of recent publications on human rights.

Dominique Clément is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta and a member of the Royal Society of Canada (CNSAS). He is the author of Canada’s Rights Revolution, Equality Deferred, Human Rights in Canada, and Debating Rights Inflation. He is also the co-editor for Alberta’s Human Rights Story and Debating Dissent. Clément has been a Visiting Scholar in Australia, Belgium, China, Ireland and the United Kingdom. He is the author of numerous articles on the history of human rights, social movements, women’s history, foreign policy and labour history. Clément has consulted for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Canadian Heritage Information Network. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Centre for Constitutional Studies, and the John Humphrey Centre for Human Rights among others. His websites, HistoryOfRights.ca and statefunding.ca, serve as research and teaching portals on the study of human rights and social movements in Canada.

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Eric M. Adams, BA (McGill), LLB (Dalhousie), SJD (Toronto), is a Professor at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law. He served as Vice Dean at the Faculty from 2019-2022. Professor Adams publishes widely in the fields of constitutional law, legal history, employment law, human rights, and legal education. His multidisciplinary research engages all aspects of Canadian constitutional law, theory, and history, and includes studies of the classic cases, Christie v YorkRoncarelli v Duplessis, and R v Drybones. He has won multiple awards for his teaching and research including the John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History, a Provost’s Award for Early Career Teaching Excellence, best article prizes from the Canadian Association of Law Teachers and the Canadian Historical Association, and a Killam Annual Professorship for excellence in research, teaching, and service. In 2023, he received the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for services to advanced education. He has delivered talks and keynote addresses across Canada and around the world including the Youard Lecture in Legal History at the University of Oxford. He is currently working on several projects extending from his research on the legal history of Japanese Canadians. A frequent media commentator, his many editorials have appeared in newspapers across the country.

Dr. Stephanie Bangarth is a Professor in History at King’s University College, at the University of Western Ontario. As a graduate of King’s, she is delighted to be teaching at an institution that had an important impact on her academic career. She went on to complete her PhD at the University of Waterloo in 2004. She taught at the University of Guelph for two years before coming to King’s in 2006. Dr. Bangarth is also an Adjunct Teaching Professor in the Department of History at Western and a Faculty Research Associate with the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Studies (MER) at Western. She also serves on MER’s Executive and Steering Committees.

  • An investigation into the ‘Ann Nisei Says’ columns published in Pacific Citizen, a popular Japanese-American newspaper published (eventually) out of Salt Lake City, Utah, during the incarceration period of WWII. An examination of the ‘Ann Nisei Says’ columns is of intrinsic value in evaluating the nature of advocacy and of agency and its relationship to gender in an oft-neglected portion of the incarcerated population – the wives and mothers, sisters and daughters resident in the wartime camps.
  • My Brother’s Keeper: F. Andrew Brewin and the Making of Modern Canada: this book-length study will use Brewin’s life as a case-study to examine some of the major social movements that influenced the development of 20th century Canada. As a prominent lawyer and longtime NDP politician, he was involved in a number of issues important to Canadians such as the extension of collective bargaining rights, human rights/egalitarian movements, the campaign for a Bill of Rights, humanitarianism in Canadian foreign policy, affordable housing, immigration policy reform and many others. This study was awarded a SSHRC Standard Research Grant under the Meritorious New Scholars Program for 2010-2013.

Ruth Frager’s teaching and research focuses on the history of women, immigrant groups, and the working class, emphasizing modern Canada. She has co-authored with Carmela Patrias a book titled Discounted Labour: Women Workers in Canada, 1870-1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). Her earlier book, Sweatshop Strife: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Jewish Labour Movement of Toronto, 1900-1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), won an award from the Ontario Historical Society. She is now working on the human rights campaigns in Ontario in the aftermath of the Second World War. She is also the author of “Labour History and the Interlocking Hierarchies of Class, Ethnicity, and Gender: A Canadian Perspective,” International Review of Social History 44, 2 (August 1999): 217-47; and “‘This Is Our Country, These Are Our Rights’: Minorities and the Origins of Ontario’s Human Rights Campaigns,” co-authored with Carmela Patrias, in the Canadian Historical Review 82, 1 (2001): 1-35.

Dr. Goutor’s publications include Guarding the Gates: The Canadian Labour Movement and Immigration, 1872 – 1934 (UBC Press, 2007), Taking Liberties: A History of Human Rights in Canada (Oxford, 2013), co-edited with Dr. Stephen Heathorn, and A Chance to Fight Hitler: A Canadian Volunteer in the Spanish Civil War (2018). He has published articles in journals such as the Canadian Historical Review, Labour/le Travail and Labour Studies Journal, and has also written columns on immigration, politics, and workers’ rights in the Opinion/Editorial section of the Toronto Star. His most recent articles have explored living wage campaigns in Ontario and were published in Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research, and a new volume, Rising Up: The Fight For Living Wage Work in Canada (UBC Press, 2021). He is currently conducting research on the relationship between the living wage and the basic income guarantee, and a historical examination of how labour leaders’ views on immigration changed in the 1940s and 1950s.

Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann is Emeritus Professor and past Canada Research Chair in international human rights at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she held a joint appointment in the Department of Global Studies and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She was also a senior research fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo and a professor emerita at McMaster University. She holds a PhD in sociology from McGill University (1976) and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2006, she was named the first distinguished scholar of human rights by the Human Rights Section, American Political Science Association. She originated and directed McMaster’s now defunct undergraduate minor Theme School on International Justice and Human Rights (1993-99).

Bonny Ibhawoh teaches African, global, and human rights history in the Department of History at McMaster University. He also teaches in the McMaster Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition. His research interests are African history/politics, international human rights, peace/conflict studies, and legal and imperial history. He was the director of the Centre for Peace Studies (2006-10). Previously, he was a professor at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario; a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Asheville; a human rights fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, New York; a research fellow at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen; and an associate member of the Centre for African Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Professor Lucie Lamarche’s career includes ongoing research, teaching, and publishing in the fields of human rights, social and labour law, international law, and feminist studies. Her major focus is the implementation of economic and social human rights, though she encourages interdisciplinary approaches. Her academic work has been complemented by her work with the United Nations, UNESCO, Law Commission of Canada, Status of Women Canada, Canadian Bar Association, and Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec.

Laura’s research explores various the history of migration, with a particular focus on refugee history and the history of humanitarianism. She is especially interested in questions relating to settler colonialism, human rights and race. Her current SSHRC-funded research explores the history of sanctuary in Canada from the 17th century to the present, with a focus on post-Confederation sanctuary practices among a variety of religious and secular communities. As a result of this initial project, she is now at work on a history of sanctuary in urban contexts and is exploring the nature of sanctuary practices amongst different Indigenous communities. Additionally, in early 2021, Laura received an Early Researcher Award to begin work on The Disaster Lab, which explores the history of disasters, humanitarianism and migration in Canada.

Dominique Marshall is Professor of History at Carleton University. She teaches and researches the past of social policies, children’s rights, humanitarian aid, disability and technology, refugees, and the extraction of natural resources. She helps coordinates the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History, which supports the rescue of archives of Canadian development and aid and the Carleton University Disability Research Group. She is a Co-Investigator of the SSHRC funded Partnership Local Engagement Refugee Research Network where she is a member of Archives, Living Histories and Heritage Working Group; of the SSHRC funded xDX project: Documenting, Linking, and Interpreting Canada’s Design Heritage; and of the teaching website Recipro: the history of international and humanitarian aid. She writes about Canadian social policies and poor families, the Child Welfare Committee of the League of Nations, the Conference on the African Child of 1931, and the history of OXFAM in Canada.

Asa McKercher is Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Royal Military College of Canada and Editor-in-Chief of International Journal. He is the author of Camelot and Canada: Canadian-American Relations in the Kennedy Era (Oxford, 2016) and Canada and the World since 1867 (Bloomsbury, 2019), and co-editor of Mike’s World: Lester B. Pearson and Canadian External Affairs (UBC, 2017) and Undiplomatic History: Rethinking Canada in the World (McGill-Queen’s, 2019. He writes on international affairs, Canadian-American political history, and Canadian foreign policy and tweets @asa_mckercher.

Carmela Patrias is Emeritus Professor, Brock University. She has studied the social origins of human rights legislation in Ontario, concentrating on the role of minorities in the province’s human rights campaigns. With Ruth Frager, her findings about the campaigns that led to the 1951 Fair Employment Practices Act were published as “‘This Is Our Country, These Are Our Rights’: Minorities and the Origins of Ontario’s Human Rights Campaigns.” Canadian Historical Review 82, 1 (2001): 1-35. They also explored why both human rights campaigns and anti-discrimination legislation in Canada failed to tackle sex discrimination for about two decades following the Second World War. See Ruth A. Frager and Carmela Patrias, “Human Rights Activists and the Question of Sex Discrimination in Postwar Ontario,” Canadian Historical Review 93, 1 (2012): 1-28. Patrias has written on the origins and impact of the 1947 Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, as well as a book titled Jobs and Justice (UTP, 2012) that examines employment discrimination against ethnic and racialized minorities in Canada during the Second World War.

Miriam Smith’s research interests include Canadian and American politics, public policy, public law, and social movements as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender policy and politics. Her books include Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada (New York: Routledge, 2008); Group Politics and Social Movements in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008); Critical Policy Studies: Contemporary Canadian Approaches (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007); A Civil Society? Collective Actors in Canadian Political Life (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005); New Trends in Canadian Federalism, 2nd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003); and Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971-1995 Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999).

Jessica Stites Mor’s research interests include urban Latin America and cultural history. She researches solidarity movements, with a focus on the particularlties of South-South transnational activism. She is primarily interested in how such movements produce cultural and intellectual exchange. Mor’s focus is on the role of cultural production, such as cinema, photography, and media, in shaping relations between Latin America and other regions of the Global South, specifically the Middle East and Africa. She is the author of Transition Cinema: Political Filmmaking and the Argentine Left since 1968 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) and the editor of Human Rights and Transnational Solidarity in Cold War Latin America (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013). She teaches courses about class and culture in Latin America and digital media in the humanities.

Dr. Jennifer Tunnicliffe is a human rights historian with a particular interest in how domestic and transnational activism shapes cultural attitudes and legislative approaches to rights and freedoms. Her work has appeared in the Canadian Historical ReviewSocial History / Histoire SocialeHistory Compass, and on the ActiveHistory blog. She has been featured on the Champlain Society’s “Witness to Yesterday” podcast and has contributed research to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and the Centre for International Governance.

Her first book, Resisting Rights: Canada and the International Bill of Rights, 1947-76 (UBC Press, 2019), challenges the narrative of Canada as an historic advocate for international human rights and explores the key role that rights activists have played in shaping Canadian diplomacy at the United Nations. She is also a co-editor of Constant Struggle: Histories of Canadian Democratization (under review with McGill-Queen’s University Press), a collection that explores the historical realities that have shaped how democracy has been understood and practiced throughout Canadian history. Her current book project, Drawing the Line: Free Speech and the Regulation of Hate in Canadian History, examines the evolution of Canada’s hate speech laws through a human rights framework, situating Canadian policy in a global context.

Prior to joining Ryerson, Dr. Tunnicliffe was an Assistant Professor at King’s University College at Western University, an L. R. Wilson Assistant Professor at the Wilson Institute for Canadian History, and she held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo. She received her PhD in history from McMaster University.

James Walker’s research interests include Canadian blacks, race relations, Africa, and human rights. He has written many articles on the history of human rights law and human rights activism in Canada, and is the author of The Black Loyalists (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992); and “Race,” Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies (Toronto: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1997).

David Webster, Bishops University

History professor at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Past positions in Toronto, San Francisco and Regina, Saskatchewan. Author of Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World (UBC Press, 2009) and Challenge the Strong Wind: Canada and East Timor 1975-99 (UBC Press, 2020).  Editor of Flowers in the Wall: Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Melanesia (U of Calgary Press, 2019); collection editor of East Timor: Testimony (Between the Lines, 2004).  Human rights advocacy on Timor-Leste and other regions bordering the Pacific. Research focuses include trans-Pacific interactions between Canada and Asia, the diplomacy of independence movements in Asia, and the histories of international organizations.

Further Reading

The readings lists available on this site deal with a range of topics from human rights to biographies and specific events.

Citing Website

Any use of material or referencing content from HistoryOfRights.ca should be acknowledged by the User and cited as follows:

~ Clément, Dominique. “page title or document title.” Canada’s Human Rights Historywww.HistoryOfRights.ca (date accessed).

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