On June 20 at the Arcadian Loft in Toronto, the Schulich School of Law’s Indigenous Blacks & Mi’kmaq (IB&M) Initiative received a 2016 Zenith Award.
Presented annually by Toronto-based Lexpert magazine, the award celebrates Canadian lawyers’ contributions in achieving diversity and inclusion in society and the legal profession. Winners may be drawn from law firms, corporate legal and government departments, academia, the judiciary and alternative careers relating to law.
“Through the hard work and persistence of its Advisory Board, community members, directors, students, faculty, and staff, the IB&M Initiative at the Schulich School of Law has grown to become a model for access to legal education and the legal profession,” says Jean Cumming, editor-in-chief/market director at Lexpert.
IB&M Initiative Director Michelle Williams believes the Zenith Award puts the initiative on a different part of the “map” of the legal profession.
“Our name being on this list means the IB&M Initiative will be recognized in places where it otherwise might not be known,” she says. “The award celebrates IB&M students and alumni, as well as the initiative’s community of supporters. Our graduates are not only increasing diversity in the legal profession but also acting as catalysts for change within the profession.”
Charlene Theodore, a 2007 IB&M Initiative alumna who is now legal counsel at the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, was honoured to accept the award on behalf of the IB&M Initiative at the ceremony.
“This award shows that the IB&M Initiative continues to be a transformative force in the legal landscape of this country,” she says. “The initiative’s alumni are in very good company with this year’s award winners. There is no doubt that investing in diversity and inclusion has benefits we are only just beginning to measure.”
Dean Camille Cameron extended her congratulations to the IB&M Initiative community. “The Schulich School of Law and Dalhousie University are very proud of this award,” she says. “There is a pressing need to increase diversity in the legal profession, and our IB&M Initiative is a pioneering response to this need.”
Since the IB&M Initiative began in 1989, it has produced 179 graduates who are working in a wide array of jobs in the public and private sectors. “In addition to increasing diversity and being agents of change,” says Cameron, “the initiative’s alumni are role models for young indigenous Black and Aboriginal people who might otherwise have thought that a legal education was out of reach.”
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