Gillian Calder

Gillian Calder
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law

On leave


BA Honours – UBC (1993), LLB – UBC, LLM – Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (2003) (1997),

Area of expertise

Family law and social issues, constitutional law, gender equality


I joined the Faculty of Law in 2004 from the practice of Aboriginal law with Mandell Pinder, LLP in Vancouver. My legal training has included a year of clerking at the BC Supreme Court in the 1997-1998 term, articles and practice with Russell and Dumoulin, LLP (as it then was) and teaching at the University of New Brunswick (2001-2002). Since coming to Victoria, I have taught Legal Process, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Civil Liberties and the Charter, Advanced Family Law and Sexual Orientation and the Law. I am deeply committed to the study of critical legal pedagogy and served as Associate Dean, Academic and Student Relations from July 2015 – June 2020.

General Research Interests

I am interested in legal imagination, theories of constitutional law, law's impact on our understanding of the family and family formation, and storytelling. In general, I have focused my scholarly energy in these broad interests around three questions. The first is about how the form and structures of particular legal regimes or systems are determinative of the kinds of questions that we ask of law. That is, what does it say, for example, about our societal commitments to gender equality and shared care-giving that we deliver a benefit for maternity and parental leave through Employment Insurance? Through this and related projects I have had the chance to think carefully about the role that intersecting legal regimes play in our understanding of substantive and formal equality in Canadian law.

The second question that I have pursued in my scholarship, teaching and administrative work to date, examines the role of critical legal pedagogy, and in particular experiential learning, as a means of reaching the 21st century law student. This work, and primarily its equity and equality dimensions, has lead to a research agenda that includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the institutional and external factors influencing critical engagement in Canadian law schools today.

Finally, and related closely to the second question, a third aspect of my scholarship to date has been about the relationship between performance, pedagogy and law. Here I have been engaged in a more theoretical exploration of particular methodologies of learning law ranging from political theatre through non-textual sources, primarily to interrogate the relationship between how we learn, experience and practice law and what we understand law to be.

All of these questions are asked and considered through an approach to law and legal education that is grounded in feminist, anti-oppressive, and anti-colonialist practice.  In particular I am very conscious of the role that Indigenous ways of knowing and being plays in my life, work and teaching.

Curriculum vitae