Law brings mother, daughter closer together

Paul Mayne // Western News

Karen and Angie Bellehumeur not only share the same faculty, but the mother and daughter now find themselves sharing the same class.

Angie Bellehumeur and her mom, Karen, are close.

When Angie did her undergrad at the University of Toronto, her mom did her Master of Laws there, too. When Angie graduated from Western Law last year, her mom started her PhD, also at Western. This year, Angie returned to campus to pursue her Masters of Law – and now has a class with, you guessed it, her mom.

And Angie, JD’19, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“She actually asked me if it was OK. She was like, ‘Do you mind?’ and I said, ‘I would love that. Come do your PhD.’ I was really excited because I love that my mom is doing this. It makes me want to do the same someday. I was thrilled.”

Karen, BSc’84, BEd’85, LLB’89, spent 23 years as an assistant crown attorney in London specializing in cases involving vulnerable witnesses and sexual assault. Seeing the need for change in the area, she left to pursue further education. She is now in the second year of her PhD.

“I believe strongly in the need for law reform in this area (sexual assault). The best way to approach that, I feel, is through academic research,” she said. “I have more interest in the research side of things, in finding ways to make changes, because there is a lot that’s needed and I see this as a path to get there.”

That path now includes loading her backpack and heading to classes once again.

“It was a big change heading back to the classroom,” Karen continued. “I was a little worried and didn’t know what to expect, but it has been wonderful. It got me back into the enjoyment of studying.”

Meanwhile, Angie is following her passion for environmental and Indigenous law during her time at Western.

“I realized how much the law played a role in creating strong environmental regulations. So I decided to pursue law and while here took the most Indigenous and environmental law courses I could possibly take,” she said. “I love this area of study. I’m hoping to use this degree to move that interest forward.”

During their time on campus, the pair, along with Angie’s sister Julia, a McGill Law School graduate, are heading up Elevation, an organization that develops policies and educational tools designed to establish and bolster cultures of equality, inclusivity and empowerment in youth sports.

“We provide tools for athlete support and development beyond the technical aspects of sport,” Karen said. “One aspect of our work is creating concrete abuse prevention initiatives, crucial to safe sport environments. We aspire to help organizations create healthy environments for athletes and coaches.”

Between the organization and law school, life is busy for the Bellehumers, but both are exhilarated to be back learning together.

“She inspires me all the time,” Karen said. “We both see law as a means to an end, not just a career. I love being able to see Angie a little more than I might otherwise. It’s great to have someone to call and say, ‘What are we supposed to be doing again?’”

While some might see having their mom sitting next to them in class as embarrassing, Angie finds it thrilling.

“What’s great about it is we are both encouraging of each other’s career trajectories. It’s cool that my mom took this transition in her career and is doing something she is passionate about,” Angie said. “It’s exciting for me to see my mom do the work that she loves and is so important to her. It’s really self-motivating.”