Law & Mental Health: Walking Side by Side

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 16:00 to 18:00
Agora - Jock-Turcot University Centre

A man is seated alone on a public bench. He speaks to passersby, hoping to maybe start up a conversation with them just for a moment, to get out of his head. He blurts out bits and pieces, a kaleidoscope of his memories; burdens, joys, hurt—a moving and entangled composition of his impressions on and through life. Beside him, a hidden woman: discreet, invisible. Who, in a low voice, screams inaudible fragments about herself. This tale, inspired by a poem by Saint-Denys-Garneau, reveals itself through the rhythm of their voices, bodies and solitude. The tension between strength and vulnerability in this movement, the suffering grace of those excluded, unfold like a leitmotif, that of all the stories we know all too well, but also know too little about. Lewis et Lucie, which will be interpreted by choreographers and dancers Jane Mappin and Daniel Firth, is a poetic recreation of social exclusion, solitude and burdens of life.

As expressed in this work, the law has long contributed to hiding, silencing and marginalizing those living with mental health issues. In recent years, this tricky path has taken a new turn, however: a questioning of mental health and its afflictions and, consequently, the connection between the law and these singularities, has proven necessary. How does one take notice of these lives, described to us by Mappin and Firth through their work?

To better understand and manage this relatedness, one must henceforth broaden the boundaries of the law. A fluid law, sensitive to otherness and to the sharing of perspectives must be envisioned in order to allow for a more anchored and concrete appreciation of the interactions in question. Among sociology, criminology, psychiatry, experiences and stories, the law is enriched and evolves. It is through this interdisciplinary experience that the law and mental health will finally be able to move forward side by side. This event takes place within this dialogue. Through the intersection of the participants’ voices and perspectives, “The law and mental health: Moving forward side by side” hopes to highlight those stories and experiences, related to the treatment of mental health, that need to be understood and considered by the law.

Jacques Frémont, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, will kick off the event. Professor Pascale Fournier will be the moderator for the event.

After an interpretation of Lewis et Lucie and Ils m'ont dit by Jane Mappin and Daniel Firth, commentators from various areas will review and discuss the themes reflected in these works. Margarida Garcia, Vice-Dean of Research and Communication, Civil Law Section of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, will be joined by Dr. Michelle Mathias, a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia. Following the discussion, Laura Loewen, pianist and associate professor of the Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba and member of the College of new Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada, will perform one of her own pieces and will reflect on the importance and challenges of expression in mental health issues.

To conclude, Natasha Bahkt, associate professor, Common Law Section of the University of Ottawa, will perform a choreography entitled “No justice”, which deals with equality under the law.