Law briefs: Community engagement

Sasha Ayers dances with her dad Arthur at the Clowns Without Borders event. / Photo: Lysane Larose

By Pascal Zamprelli

A nose for good deeds

Why did a dean, professors and students of law walk around with clown noses on their faces all day? We apologize if you’re expecting a punch line, but this is no joke: they did just that on Nov. 16, which was declared Day of the Rights of the Child at McGill’s Faculty of Law. It was all part of an initiative that had been going on for a week, whereby students sold clown noses and candygrams, and raised more than $800 for Clowns Without Borders, an organization of clowns that go into war zones and refugee camps and entertains children who see very little joy in their lives.

One of the grateful organization’s clowns showed his thanks by emceeing a night of student performances that capped off the week. Between introducing the acts and doing a few amazing stunts of his own, he spoke of the issues plaguing children in war, and explained how a little laughter can make a big difference.

Plastic fruits of labour

Every year, the daycare staff at the McGill Childcare Centre prepares for the arrival of hundreds of children by spending a day cleaning everything from tables and chairs to plastic fruit and rubber duckies. Their load was

a little lighter this year, as more than 70 McGill Law students (plus some professors, and even the Dean) volunteered to help out. In addition to the usual toy sanitizing and paint touch-ups, the law students took on the type of chores that daycare staff don’t usually get to until later in the term, if at all – like organizing

the supply cupboard and sorting books.

“They came out early on a Monday morning to donate their time to doing some really dirty tasks, with big smiles on their faces,” explained Lisa Gallagher, the daycare centre’s Executive Director. “Having that much additional manpower was a great kick-off to the beginning of the year. For us it means we’re starting off on a better footing because we’ve got so much more done than usual. That means we can give that much more attention to the children.”

“It’s indicative that our students see the value in service to others,” said Assistant Dean (External Affairs) Charmaine Lyn, who spearheaded the event. “That’s something we look for during the admissions process, and hope to foster and encourage while they’re here.”

Plans are in the works to make this cleanup brigade an annual fixture at the Centre.

New support for more outreach

Regular Reporter readers may remember that last March we told you about McGill Law’s High School Outreach Program, an innovative idea that sees law students helping high school students who are living in difficult socio-economic situations succeed by developing mentorship relationships and providing information about university studies.

The partnership with each school is developed over three sessions, the first two of which see McGill law students visit the schools. For the final session, the high school students visit McGill

to learn about its facilities and hear from guest speakers. Now, organizers will be able to dedicate more resources to the already successful program, and help it grow.

Earlier this year, the program got a major boost courtesy of its first sponsor, The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, which donated $20,000 to the cause.

“We are proud to become a partner in supporting this exciting initiative and looks forward to seeing it flourish,” said the Foundation’s President, Timothy Aitken.