Meet CCEL Research Assistant Ellen Spannagel
June 9, 2022
BY Ellen Spannagel
My name is Ellen Spannagel, and I’m currently in my final year as a Bachelor of Civil Law and Juris Doctor candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. I am passionate about work that creatively addresses social inequities and am thrilled to be joining the Canadian Center for Elder Law (CCEL) team as a research student. The CCEL has rich experience in public education and law reform with regards to the rights of aging communities. I am excited to learn from their approach.
Prior to law school, I completed a Bachelor of Journalism and Humanities at Carleton University, where I put my love for storytelling at the forefront and produced investigative content on issues including race, gender and accessibility in society. As a law student, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to engage with public interest work from both research, litigation, and advocacy perspectives. Much of my work has centered around the rights of older persons and people with disabilities, and I am passionate about research that explores the intersections between ableism and ageism. As a consultant with Forum for Human Rights, I drafted submissions on the institutionalization of older persons in Czechia to regional courts. As an intern with the Disability Rights Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW), I conducted interviews and published reports on the failure of the British Columbia provincial government to uphold the rights of people with disabilities and older persons in the context of the 2021 summer heat waves. I was excited to put my technical journalism training to use in a rights-based context and was grateful to help facilitate the inclusion of these persons in climate change dialogues at COP26. As part of the Disability Inclusive Climate Action Program, I also produced a podcast, Enabling Commons, where I spoke to disabled activists about their roles and insight in addressing climate change. It is extremely important to me that the persons who are most impacted by human rights violations are empowered to lead solutions in their own communities.
This summer, I am looking forward to supporting CCEL in their research on the work of health care assistants, and on ethical and legal frameworks related to including people living with dementia in research.