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Esmeralda M A Thornhill

Professor of Law

Schulich School of Law

Email: esmeralda.thornhill@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-2967
Mailing Address: 
Room 437, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Discrimination
  • Legal history
  • Employment discrimination law
  • Race relations
  • Race and the law
  • Critical Race and Legal Theory
  • Anti-Racism Education
  • Race Literacy


  • BA Hons (McGill)
  • MA (l'Université de Montréal)
  • Dip Ed (McGill)
  • LLB (UQAM)
  • Dip Int'l and Comp. Law (U of San Diego, Paris, France)
  • LLD (Hon. - CUNY)
  • LLD (Hon. - Concordia)

Bar admissions

  • Quebec, 1987
  • Nova Scotia, 1998


Currently a research associate with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University, Professor Thornhill conceptualized, developed and taught the first Canadian university accredited course in Black Women's Studies, Black Women: The Missing Pages from Canadian Women's Studies, (Concordia University, 1983 and 1988), and served as a faculty member of the Canadian Law Teaching Clinic in 1993 and 1994. She has taught in FASS (Arts and Social Sciences), holding cross appointments in Canadian, Gender, Russian and Graduate Studies.

  • Critical Race and Legal Theory I (LAWS 2194)
  • Human Rights Law & Protection in Canada (LAWS 2195)
  • International Human Rights Law(LAWS 2074)
  • Introduction to Property: A Critical Approach (Pre-LAW)
  • Legal Profession and Professional Responsibility (LAWS 2099)
  • Orientation to Law Module: The Implications of ‘Race’ and Culture for Legal Education and the Legal Profession (LAWS 1002)

Research interests

Professor Thornhill has researched, written, and lectured widely on the "material reality" of Racism in Law, Education, and Public Services to legal, academic, government, public, and grassroots audiences. Her research interests include International Human Rights Law, Human Rights Law and Protection in Canada, International Development, Critical Race and Legal Theory, Critical Race Pedagogy,  "Material Reality" of Racism,  Cumulative Impact and Proof of Discrimination, Intersectionality Theory, Race Literacy, Afrocentric Theory, Black History, Black Women’s Studies, Anti-Racism Training and Administrative Law.

Selected awards & honours

  • 2014 Research Associate, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University
  • 2012: First McGill O’Brien Fellow in Residence
  • 2006 - 2007: Traditional Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Temple University, Philadelphia
  • 1997 - Honorary Doctor of Laws (Concordia)
  • 1996 - Honorary Doctor of Laws (CUNY)
  • 1996 - 2002: First James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies
  • 1992: Recipient of Quebec Woman of the Year Award for Humanitarian and Social Action
  • Profiled in: The Niagara Black History Association's 2008 Black History Calendar, Who's Who In Black Canada 2006, 2002; Those 350 Women Who Built Montreal; L'Agenda des femmes du Québec; 100 Outstanding Black Canadians

Selected publications

  • E. Thornhill, "Introduction" in Charlotte Isabella Perkins, The Romance of Old Annapolis Royal (Newfoundland: Boulder Press, 2012).
  • E. Thornhill, "When Dissent Sounds A Clarion Call" (2012) 9:1 Can Bar Rev.
  • E. Thornhill, "Blacks in Canada: Retrospects, Introspects, Prospects" (2008) 38 Journal of Black Studies.
  • E. Thornhill, “Editor’s Introduction” (2008) 38 Journal of Black Studies.
  • E. Thornhill, "So Seldom For Us, So Often Against Us: Blacks and Law in Canada" (2008) 38 Journal of Black Studies.

    Read more at ethornhill.ca.

Service & activity

  • 2009-2011: Kidney Foundation of Canada
  • 2000-2006: Member of Howard University’s External Advisory Panel for the National Human Genome Centre
  • 2005: Psychiatric Facilities Review Board, and in 2007 she was invited to serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Black Studies (United States)
  • 2004-07: Board of Trustees of  the National Film Board of Canada
  • 2000-03: Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia Law Foundation
  • 1999-03: Panel of Board of Inquiry Chairs for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission
  • 1996-00: Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Race Relations Committee
  • 1994-96: Canadian Access to Legal Education Group Executive
  • 1994: Canadian Bar Association Advisory Committee on Racism in the Legal Profession

    Read more at ethornhill.ca.


  • 2006-07 Fulbright Foundation Traditional Award
  • 2005 US State Department