Natasha Bakht
Natasha Bakht
Full Professor

BA (Drama, Political Science, Women’s Studies, University of Toronto)
MA (Political Studies, Queen’s University)
LLB (University of Ottawa)
LLM (New York University School of Law)

57 Louis Pasteur St., Room 330
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 2916


SSRN page

Natasha Bakht is a Full Professor of law at the University of Ottawa and the Shirley Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession (2020-2022). Prof Bakht graduated from the University of Ottawa's English common law program and then served as a law clerk to Justice Louise Arbour at the Supreme Court of Canada. She was called to the bar of Ontario in 2003 and completed her LL.M at New York University School of Law as a Global Hauser scholar.

Professor Bakht joined the Faculty of Law in 2005, where she teaches/has taught Criminal Law and Procedure, Introduction to Family Law, Advanced Family Law, the Walsh Family Law Moot, Multicultural Rights in Liberal Democracies, Children and the Law and Women, Religion and Law. 

Professor Bakht’s research interests are generally in the area of law, culture and minority rights and specifically in the intersecting area of religious freedom and women’s equality. She has written extensively in the area of religious arbitration. Her research on the niqab analyzes the unwarranted popular panic concerning Muslim women who cover their faces and explores systemic barriers to inclusion perpetuated by Canada’s legal and political system. Her book In Your Face: Law Justice and Niqab-Wearing Women in Canada was listed in the Hill Times 100 Best Books of 2020 and received the 2020-2021 Huguenot Society of Canada Award. She has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in R v NS, 2012 SCC 72, a case involving a niqab-wearing sexual assault complainant.  

In the area of family law, she has co-written a textbook entitled Families and the Law, 3rd ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc, 2019) and has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in the cases of Michel v Graydon, 2020 SCC 24 and Colucci v Colucci, 2021 SCC 24, both involving claims of historic child support. Together with her friend and colleague Lynda Collins, she stretched the legal boundaries of family by becoming legal co-mothers of their son, Elaan, though they are not in a conjugal relationship.

Prof Bakht served as the English Language Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (2014-2020). She has assisted in Canadian judicial education on issues of religion, gender, culture, equality and diversity. Her legal activism includes involvement with the National Association of Women and the Law and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). She was named one of the top 50 people in city by Ottawa Life Magazine (2009), received a Femmy Award by International Women’s Day Ottawa for being a thought leader in the National Capital Region (2017) and received the South Asian Bar Association’s Legal Excellence Award (2019). She was appointed to the Order of Ottawa in 2022.

Prof Bakht is also an award-winning dancer and choreographer, trained in Bharata Natyam and specializing in Indian contemporary dance. Relying on a hybridity of forms, her work looks curiously at the ordinary, discovers beauty in unusual places and explores the themes of marginalization and resistance. She is the recipient of many accolades including twice nominated for Dora Awards for outstanding choreography (2003 and 2010), the K.M. Hunter Artist Award (2008), finalist for the Ottawa Arts Council’s Mid-Career Artist Award (2018) and a finalist for the Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize (2021). Her dances have been the subject of two films by Mouvement Perpétuel. She is artist-in-residence at the Ottawa Dance Directive.

Selected Publications

  • Natasha Bakht, “The Surprisingly Positive Impact of Section 27 of the Charter” in Howard Kislowicz, Richard Moon & Kerri Froc eds, The Surprising Constitution (UBC Press, in press).    
  • Natasha Bakht, “Indigenous Religious Rights: Reconciling Religious Views and Decolonizing Section 2(a) of the Charter” in Jeffrey Hewitt & Richard Moon, eds, Indigenous Spirituality and Religious Freedom (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, in press)
  • Natasha Bakht, “How Low Can We Go? Combatting Systemic Islamophobia with the Unwritten Constitutional Principle of Respect for Minorities” in Anver Emon ed, Systemic Islamophobia in Canada: A Research Agenda (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2023).
  • Natasha Bakht, “2(b) or not 2(b): The Expressive Value of the Niqab” in Amélie Barras, Jennifer Selby & Melanie Adrian, eds, Producing Islam(s) in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021).
  • Natasha Bakht, “Transnational Anti-Muslim Racism: Routes in Law” (2021) 20:2 Meridians: feminism, race transnationalism.
  • Natasha Bakht, In Your Face: Law, Justice and Niqab-Wearing Women in Canada (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2020).
  • Mary Jane Mossman, Natasha Bakht, Vanessa Gruben, Karen Pearlson, eds, Families and the Law, 3rd ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc, 2019).
  • Natasha Bakht & Lynda Collins, “Are you my mother? Parentage in a Non-Conjugal Family” (2018) 31:1 Can J Fam L 105.
  • Natasha Bakht & Lynda Collins, “The Earth is Our Mother: Freedom of Religion and the Preservation of Aboriginal Sacred Sites in Canada” (2017) 62:3 McGill Law Journal 777.
  • Natasha Bakht, “In Your Face: Piercing the Veil of Ignorance About Niqab-Wearing Women” (2015) 24(3) Social and Legal Studies 419.  
  • Natasha Bakht & Jordan Palmer, “Modern Law, Modern Hammers: Canada’s Witchcraft Provision as an Image of Persecution” (2015) 35 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 123.
  • Jennie Abell, Elizabeth Sheehy, Natasha Bakht, eds, Criminal Law and Procedure: Proof, Defences and Beyond, 5th ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc., 2014).
  • Jennie Abell, Elizabeth Sheehy, Natasha Bakht, eds, Criminal Law and Procedure: Cases, Context, Critique Proof, 5th ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc., 2012).
  • Natasha Bakht, “What’s in a Face?  Demeanour Evidence in the Sexual Assault Context” in Elizabeth Sheehy ed, Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2012) 591-611.
  • Natasha Bakht, “Veiled Objections:  Facing Public Opposition to the Niqab” in Lori Beaman ed, Reasonable Accommodation: Managing Religious Diversity (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012) 70-108.
  • Natasha Bakht, “Mere ‘Song and Dance’: Complicating the Multicultural Imperative in the Arts” in Home and Native Land: Unsettling Multiculturalism in Canada, eds, May Chazan et al (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2011) 175-183.
  • Natasha Bakht, ed, Belonging and Banishment: Being Muslim in Canada (Toronto: TSAR Publications, 2009).
  • Natasha Bakht, “Reinvigorating Section 27: An Intersectional Approach” (2009) 6(2) Journal of Law & Equality 135-161.
  • Natasha Bakht, “Religious Arbitration in Canada: Protecting Women by Protecting them from Religion” (2007) 19 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 119-144.
  • Natasha Bakht, Kim Brooks, Gillian Calder, Jennifer Koshan, Sonia Lawrence, Carissima Mathen, Debra Parkes, “Counting Outsiders: A Critical Exploration of Outsider Course Enrolment in Canadian Legal Education” (2007) 45:4 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 667-732. 
  • Natasha Bakht, “Were Muslim Barbarians Really Knocking On the Gates of Ontario?: The Religious Arbitration Controversy—Another Perspective” (2005) Ottawa Law Review, 40th Anniversary Summer 67-82.
  • Natasha Bakht, “Family Arbitration Using Sharia Law: Examining Ontario’s Arbitration Act and its Impact on Women” (2004) 1 Muslim World Journal of Human Rights 1-24.