University of Calgary

Jonnette Watson Hamilton

  • Professor

Bar admissions

Active member of the Law Society of Alberta 1979 - 1999
Inactive member of the Law Society of Alberta 1999 -


After receiving a BA in English from the University of Alberta in 1974 and an LLB from Dalhousie University in 1978, Jonnette practiced law in Wetaskiwin, Alberta with the firm now known as Sirrs LLP. Like anyone in a general practice, she worked in variety of areas, but most of her practice was devoted to family law, commercial law, and dependent adult law. She was also a member of the Alberta Farm Debt Review Board from 1986 to 1991 and mediated disputes between insolvent farmers and their creditors. After attending Columbia Law School in New York City in 1991/92 for her LL.M., Jonnette began teaching in the faculty in the fall of 1992 and has, in the intervening 24 years, taught 19 different law school courses.

She received the Howard Tidswell Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2007 and again in 2011-2012. She is also a recipient of a 2018 Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Award for her teaching in Law 404: Property in 2017/2018. The SU award honours commitment to student success and is determined entirely based on student feedback. You can read about some of her teaching methods in “Student Driven Discussions: Law 579 (Legal Theory: Property)” on the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning blog.

Jonnette received the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch/Law Society of Alberta Distinguished Service Award for Legal Scholarship in January 2017, in a presentation that emphasized her role in founding and contributing to ABlawg and to the Alberta Law Reform Institute. The breadth of her work was also noted, spanning property law, property theory, aboriginal rights, equality rights, commercial arbitration, mediation, commercial law, discourse analysis, and more. By the number of courses she has taught and the many areas she writes in, it is clear she is still very deliberately the generalist she first chose to be as an articling student in 1978.

View Jonnette's CV


Law 404: Property
Law 569: Law and Literature
Law 579: Legal Theory - Property

Research/Scholarly Activities

Research Areas

  • Discourse Analysis
  • Equality Rights
  • Property Law & Theory
  • Access to Justice

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Joshua Sealy-Harrington & Jonnette Watson Hamilton, “Colour as a Discrete Ground of Discrimination” (2018) 7:1 Can J Hum Rts 1-33. Available on the Canadian Journal of Human Rights.
  • "The Role of Choice in Women's Freedom of Religion Claims in Canada" (2017) 36(2) Religious Studies and Theology 171-185 (with Jennifer Koshan). Available on ProQuest.
  • "Kahkewistahaw First Nation v. Taypotat – Whither Section 25 of the Charter?" (2016) 52:2 Constitutional Forum 39-44 (with Jennifer Koshan). Available on SSRN.
  • "Kahkewistahaw First Nation v. Taypotat: An Arbitrary Approach to Discrimination" (2016) 76 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 243-262 (with Jennifer Koshan). Available on SSRN.
  • "Adverse Impact: The Supreme Court's Approach to Adverse Effects Discrimination Under Section 15 of the Charter" (2014) 19:2 Review of Constitutional Studies 191-236 (with Jennifer Koshan). Available on SSRN.
  • "The Recognition of Aboriginal Title and Its Relationship with Settler State Land Titles Systems" (2014) 47:3 UBC L Rev 829, with Nigel Bankes and Sharon Mascher. Available on SSRN.
  • "The Continual Reinvention of Section 15 of the Charter" (2013) 64 University of New Brunswick Law Journal 19 - 53 (with Jennifer Koshan), draft available on SSRN.
  • “Acknowledging and Accommodating Legal Pluralism: An Application to the Draft Nordic Saami Convention” in The Proposed Nordic Saami Convention: National and International Dimensions of Indigenous Property Rights, Nigel Bankes and Timo Koivurova, editors (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013) 45-78
  • "The Supreme Court of Canada, Ameliorative Programs, and Disability: Not Getting It" (2013) 25:1 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 56-80 (with Jennifer Koshan), draft available at SSRN:
  • "Meaningless Mantra: Substantive Equality after Withler" (2011) 16:1 Review of Constitutional Studies 31-62 (co-authored with Jennifer Koshan), draft available at SSRN.
  • "Different Views of the Cathedral: The Literature on Property Law Theory", in Property and the Law in Energy and Natural Resources, Aileen McHarg, Barry Barton, Adrian Bradbrook and Lee Godden, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) 19-59 (co-authored with Nigel Bankes)
  • The Matrimonial Property Act: A Case Law Review (October 2010), with Annie Voss-Altman, a research paper for the Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI), published on the ALRI website. 
    • A database was constructed based on the issues of the cases that were reviewed for the research paper. This database identifies more than 1,200 issues and sub-issues, and allows for sorting and filtering by issue and sub-issue, case name, date, court, judge, type of decisions, MPA section number, cases relied upon in a particular case, and cases later relying on that particular case. For a copy of the database in Excel, please contact
    • Download the database by issue, by case name, or by year (PDF)

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