A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Osgoode Hall Law School, and Harvard University, Professor Backhouse taught at the University of Western Ontario before moving to the University of Ottawa in 2000. She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2004, a member of the Order of Canada in 2008, and a member of the Order of Ontario in 2010.  She is the recipient of numerous awards and honours:  an honorary doctorate (2002) and law society medal (1998) from the Law Society of Upper Canada, honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba (2010) and Western University (2012), and Carleton University (2013), the Bora Laskin Human Rights Fellowship (1999), the Joseph Brant Award for multicultural history (2002), the Willard Hurst Prize in legal history (1992), the Gustavus Myers award for books about human rights (1993), the Jules and Gabrielle Léger Fellowship (2006), the Trudeau Fellowship (2006), the Ramon Hnatyshyn Award from the Canadian Bar Association (2006), the Killam Prize in Social Sciences (2008), the David W. Mundell Medal (2011), the Gold Medal from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2011), the Governor General’s Person’s Medal (2013), the Molson Prize in Social Sciences (2015), and both research and teaching awards at the University of Ottawa.  She also received the Augusta Stowe-Gullen Medal (1981) for her feminist activist work.

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Professor Backhouse served as an adjudicator for the compensation claims arising from the physical, sexual and psychological abuse of the former inmates of the Grandview Training School for Girls (1995-98), and adjudicated compensation claims for the former students of Aboriginal residential schools across Canada.  She has served as an expert witness and consultant on various aspects of sexual abuse and violence against women and children.  She is a member of the board of directors for the Women's Education and Research Foundation and a founding co-publisher and co-editor of the Feminist History Society.

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