NAWL Presents PolySeSouvient Gun Control Activists with Shirley Greenberg Award for Outstanding Leadership in Feminist Law Reform

29 February 2024
February 29, 2024

Today, the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) announced it will present its inaugural Shirley Greenberg Award for outstanding leadership in feminist law reform jointly to Nathalie Provost and Heidi Rathjen, two national gun control activists who have been at the forefront of the fight for stronger gun control laws in Canada for more than 30 years.

The award will be presented at an event on Parliament Hill to mark NAWL’s 50th anniversary of legal advocacy to protect and promote the rights of all women in Canada.

Provost and Rathjen are being recognized for their exceptional commitment and achievements as long-time leaders of PolySeSouvient, a non-profit gun control advocacy organization founded by survivors and family members of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, during which 14 women were murdered and another 10 women and four men were injured from gun violence.

“Provost and Rathjen’s courage, leadership and achievements on behalf of survivors and family members impacted by the École Polytechnique tragedy are key components of a collective feminist effort that ultimately helped pass Bill C-21 into law, making every woman in Canada safer and less at risk of death and injury from gun violence,” said Tiffany Butler, Executive Director of NAWL.

“Provost and Rathjen’s remarkable decades-long determination to protect the human dignity and human right of every woman to live free of gun violence embodies the systemic impact that strong feminist law reform advocacy can have toward achieving substantive equality for women, no matter where they live in Canada — from big cities to rural towns and northern communities,” emphasized Butler.

“PolySeSouvient was honoured to closely collaborate with the ‘Women for Gun Control’ coalition spearheaded by NAWL, which saw more than 35 feminist organizations from across Canada come together to help counter disinformation from the gun lobby. The coalition advocated for the adoption of Bill C-21, which had been substantially improved thanks to NAWL’s intervention,” said Rathjen.

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary of leadership and expert legal contributions in 2024, NAWL established the new award in honour of trailblazing feminist lawyer and philanthropist Shirley Greenberg, a champion of women in the legal community who co-founded NAWL, as well as Ottawa’s first all-female law practice.

In addition to honouring deserving individuals, the award will inspire NAWL’s members, supporters, and allies to continue their vital work of feminist law reform.

“Tonight’s reception and awards is a rousing celebration of how far we’ve come,” said Butler. “I’m confident that by collectively leveraging NAWL’s five decades of legal leadership and gender equality advocacy we will continue to have an impact through feminist law reform over the next 50 years – for the benefit of all women in this country.”

about NAWL
The National Association of Women and the Law is a not-for-profit feminist organization that promotes the equality rights of women through legal education, research and law reform advocacy.
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