by Paris Wildman-Sisk and Angela Zhu
Early in our first year, we eagerly sat in our first Women and the Law club meeting. We had both dashed around the law school asking where to find the classroom – neither of us had quite gotten our bearings yet. The club’s President asked if anyone had any ideas for the upcoming year. Surrounded by a room full of strangers, Angela raised her hand and spoke of a portrait campaign that had started at McGill. She explained the initiative and nervously asked if anyone would be interested in joining her in bringing the project to Windsor Law. To her surprise, hands immediately shot up across the room.
Two weeks later, our eager committee met early on a Saturday morning for our first shoot, a “trial run” at the Class of 1981’s reunion. Karen Momothiuk Chapman, Director of Alumni Affairs and the epitome of unwavering support for us, had arranged a time for us to speak about the project. It went off without a hitch.
We’re just kidding — we were swimming in hitches. The backdrop was missing in action, the schedule had shifted so that we were three hours behind, and the team was comprised solely of first-year students acclimating to the law school bubble. What we learned that day was that nothing brings people together like a group of Type-A law students faced with the chaos of uncertainty.
Paris stood before of the Class of 1981 and spoke about what the portrait campaign was meant to demonstrate. She discussed gender equality in law and the importance of moving forward, adding that our portraits would begin following Dean Chris Waters’ speech to the class. As the Dean’s speech came to a close, we waited at the top of the classroom by our makeshift backdrop. One student stood by the waivers, another nervously shuffled the papers to write quotes on, and Angela stood waiting with her camera.
To our surprise, alumni were not only willing, but excited to help us. Our incredible Dean posed with his son, inspiring a trend that would become our favourite type of portrait: featuring multiple generations of feminists. One alumnus, a former member of Women and the Law during her time at Windsor, stood back proudly and watched each individual step up for their picture. She later told us how she had championed the club when she was a law student, emphasizing how wonderful it was to see her former classmates finally grow into the feminist mentality.
That day was the first pleasant surprise for us on this journey. Hardly a month into our time at Windsor Law, and we had been met with what lies at the heart of this school: a tremendous outpouring of support and enthusiasm from this community. During our official three-day shoot a month later, practitioners took time off to participate; faculty poured in with contributions; and students signed up in droves.
We are proud of the work we’ve done for Law Needs Feminism Because. But, more than anything, we are grateful. We are grateful to those who carved time out of their busy lives to share their ideas and opinions with us. We are grateful to the amazing team at Law Needs Feminism Because – National for allowing us to participate in this movement. We are grateful to Rachel Kohut for spearheading this initiative, because it has brought us so much. Most of all, we are grateful to the members of the Windsor Law chapter of Law Needs Feminism Because, who have put in hours of their time and energy into manifesting this campaign we are so excited to share. This has been an amazing experience that has defined our law school careers, and for that, we could not be luckier.