Joanne St. Lewis


Social Justice Professor, Common Law Section, University of Ottowa, Canada






Joanne St. Lewis is a Law Professor in the Common Law Section of uOttawa. Her areas of current research include digital defamation and social justice communities; sexual violence and online harassment; and issues of racial profiling and terrorism policy. She is appointed to the Expert Roundtable on Carding/Street Checks established to advise the Ontario Police College in 2016. She is a member of the Law Commission of Ontario Advisory Committee on Defamation in the Age of the Internet. She is a lecturer in the University of Southern California CREATE Homeland Security Center of Excellence, Executive Program on Counter-Terrorism.

Joanne is the first Black woman to be elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the governing body for over 47,000 lawyers and 7,500 paralegals, in its 219-year history.  She led the establishment of Working Groups on Aboriginal Issues, Disability Rights, and French Language Services and the Retention of Women in the Legal Profession project during her mandate as Chair of its Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee.

Professor St. Lewis was co-counsel for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and judicial review at the Federal Court Trial Division, on the test case regarding discriminatory funding of Aboriginal child welfare services on reserve.  She served as the founding Faculty advisor to the Black Law Students Association of Canada for its first 17 years.

She was co-chair of the CBA Working Group on Racial Equality and the author of the report Virtual Justice: Systemic Racism in the Canadian Legal Profession. In 1989, she became the founding Director of the Education Equity Program in the Common Law Section. She has held positions with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Race Relations Directorate. She has served as the Director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). She was also the Special Assistant Government Affairs to the Grand Chief of the Crees of Quebec.

Professor St. Lewis is the recipient of the 2012 National Hero Award from the Black Law Students Association of Canada, the United Nations Association of Canada 2009 Honoured Champion Award in recognition of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the 2009 Canadian Association of Black Lawyers Celebrating Excellence Award, the 2008 DreamKEEPERS’ Life Achievement Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Coalition, the 2004 Ottawa Life Magazine Top 50 People in the Capital and the 2001 Canadian Association of Black Lawyers Recognition of Black Women’s Contribution to the Law Award.