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U of O professor sings and strums for benefit concert at the Black Sheep Inn

Photo courtesy of Lynda Collins

By day, professor Lynda Collins is best known for her work with the Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability at the University of Ottawa.

But on weekends, you’ll see another side of her.

When she isn’t inspiring tomorrow’s generation of young environmental lawyers to work in one of the most challenging fields of Canadian law, she’s playing her music all across the continent.

Collins combined both passions into one for the first time on Jan. 11, when she brought her sweet, earthy acoustic sound to the Black Sheep Inn as part of a benefit concert for the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the U of O.

Later in the evening she teamed up with singer-songwriter Larry Pegg on guitar, and finished with a jazz quintet.

Collins is one of Canada’s leading experts in the law and policy of toxic torts and an expert in the domestic and international law of environmental law and human rights.

Her contemporary folks stylings are influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco, Hawksley Workman, and Lola Jones. She has one solo album, LOVE, released in 2011.

“I’ve been playing guitar and writing for about 20 years and singing for even more,” said Collins.

Throughout that time, she’s travelled to venues all over Canada and the United States. From the east to the west coast, Collins says she feels lucky to say she’s played in some of North America’s most vibrant regions, like San Francisco, Toronto, and Alaska.

“I usually do a gig two or three times a year. It used to be a bit more, but I’ve performed in interesting places,” she said, having been unable to play as much as she used to as she tries to balance her work and her music. But to bring them together was a treat.

The Ecojustice Clinic, unique in Canada, allows law and science students to work on important issues in line with their values. The clinic has undertaken a few fundraising efforts to help mitigate the costs of running it.

But for professor Will Amos, the group’s director, the benefit concert was unique in its demonstration of professors’ commitment to the organization.

“We’ve done big fundraising events before, but we’re very excited about this one because it clearly demonstrates that the University of Ottawa professors are keen about ecojustice,” said Amos.

“They’re excited to keep it here. They wouldn’t be playing benefit concerts on the weekends if they weren’t.”