On Sunday July 8th, our friend and CLT contributor Connor O’Callaghan passed away in a water related accident on Chocolate Lake near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Connor was a third-year PhD Candidate in the Social and Political Thought program at York University, working on his final dissertation proposal. Connor was a brilliant young man and an emerging Socio-legal scholar. Connor was tirelessly committed to analyzing and dismantling systems of oppression; a characteristic he seems to have inherited from his mother, Suzanne O’Callaghan, and which was fostered during long years on the east coast of Canada. His research critically spanned law, political, and critical theory through topics ranging from poverty as violence; law, literature and electricity; and more recently, environmental jurisprudence. He was especially passionate about feminist and indigenous rights issues, presenting his work at Oxford Brookes, Warwick, and Kent, among others. Connor loved to travel, and late in his life got to see much of the world while presenting his work.
Connor was beloved by his colleagues in the Socio-Legal and Social and Political Thought Programs at York University. Over the years, he developed a reputation as an intelligent and forceful collaborator, as well as a well-respected Teaching Assistant. He was also a dedicated comrade, and agitated enthusiastically for the successful York strike of 2015. But he was more than that; Connor was an accomplished musician, a determined boxer, and he worked as Program Coordinator at the St Felix Centre in Downtown Toronto, which serves some of the city’s most marginalized communities. He was also an excellent chef and an avid cyclist. One of the images that often came to mind when thinking about him was Connor traversing Toronto along the streets and bike paths of the city.
Connor had a radiant personality and with it brought others together from various social circles. Over the past few days, there has been an outpouring of grief and sympathy from hundreds of people who met him over the years, from his academic colleagues to training partners at the boxing gym to colleagues in the food and beverage industry, amongst others. Everyone had a personal story about how Connor had made their lives a bit richer and more interesting. When we think of Connor, it is hard not to think of long nights of conversation and laughter, easily pivoting between political and academic topics to light-hearted banter. Connor was committed to helping others regardless of their circumstances and background. Over the past few days many have remarked on the sheer variety and depth of his many friendships and colleagues.
Connor will be greatly missed. The world has lost a budding legal scholar, teacher, friend and son. We hope to carry on his legacy in its many iterations with the same kind of grace and love he so easily conveyed.
Connor’s CLT contributions: