Gifts in action: the Fasken Martineau Excellence Fund

February 2011

The Fasken Martineau Excellence Fund, established by the firm and its members in 2009, is an endowed $350,000 fund used in part to support research and students at the Faculty of Law. Focus online offers a glimpse at the opportunities and results of this generous gift.

By Victoria Leenders-Cheng

In July 2010, just as 3L Alexandre Sauveplane-Stirling was making his way to Bogota to study mining contracts and labour rights, 1L Jaimie Tax was on her way home to Halifax after having spent two years working for grassroots organizations in Nepal and Bangladesh.

The two students may not have crossed paths then, but as recipients of funds and scholarships from the Fasken Martineau Excellence Fund, they were both honoured at a cocktail event at the firm’s Montreal office on January 25, along with a third beneficiary of the fund, the McGill Journal of Law and Health.

Alexandre Sauveplane-Stirling (right) with a friend at an abandoned mine that is now a tourist site.

Alexandre Sauveplane-Stirling (right) with a friend at an abandoned mine that is now a tourist site.

Alexandre Sauveplane-Stirling received the fund’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) research grant, which helped offset his travel and living costs for a two-month trip to Colombia during the summer of 2010. Working with Professor Richard Janda, Sauveplane-Stirling focused his research on the CSR obligations of Canadian corporations operating in Colombia and in Latin America more generally.

Sauveplane-Stirling’s time abroad took him all over Bogota, from the mountainous edges of the city’s sprawling skyline to the cavernous mining sites where he investigated how Colombia’s Legal Stability Contract allows the government to regulate labour, environment and human rights.

“I wanted to look at how the contracts are being used and relate their use to corporate social responsibility,” he explained, adding that being on-the-ground gave him direct insight into the international implications of CSR practices and their role in ensuring legal as well as social stability.

Jaimie Tax also feels that her international travels have contributed to the views she brings to class as a law student. Originally from Halifax, Tax is the 2010 recipient of the renewable Fasken Martineau Scholarship for Legal Excellence, awarded to a student upon entrance to the Faculty of Law.

After graduating from Dalhousie University with a bachelor’s degree in business, Tax spent two years working with micro-finance organizations in Bangladesh and Nepal. The experience, especially as a volunteer working for social justice in remote rural villages, fueled her desire to “explore how human rights, development and law can work together.”

At McGill, she is a member of Lawyers without Borders and is also contributing to a research project initiated by the Women’s Law Caucus to support a class action lawsuit launched by young women in Nigeria who have been the victims of rape.

“Everyone is from such a different background,” Tax noted of her fellow students. “I feel like everyone brings a unique perspective to the study of law.”

The third recipient of the scholarship fund, the McGill Journal of Law and Health, was also honoured at the cocktail on January 25, in part in recognition for the rapid expansion of the journal’s influence since it was established four years ago.

The journal, which is moving from one print issue to two this academic year, has also developed a significant online presence, with a website that includes free access to all its current and archived editions, as well as a blog that tackles the latest developments in health and law on topics such as stem cell research and reproductive rights.

“We now have a strong academic core and we want to include more non-academic perspectives,” said executive managing editor Daniel Masliyah, adding that the journal is hoping to broaden both its contributor and reader base.

“The journal touches on so many aspects of the law, from fundamental rights to public policy decisions to international propositions,” said editor-in-chief David Parry. “These are legal issues that affect everyone.”

The Journal is hosting a panel on mental competency at the beginning of March and is also organizing a colloquium on reproductive rights at the end of March. For more details, visit http://mjlh.mcgill.ca.

A screenshot of the mjlh website

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