Scotiabank scholarship program aims to increase anti-racism advocates among future lawyers

Select recipients will receive internship opportunities at Scotiabank, firms or legal advocacy orgs

Scotiabank scholarship program aims to increase anti-racism advocates among future lawyers

The Scotiabank Program for Law Students is a national scholarship program that seeks to increase the number of students pursuing a career in the legal profession with the aim of becoming anti-racism advocates.

The University of Alberta, the University of Victoria, McGill University, the University of Windsor, the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University are participating in this initiative. For each affiliated university, one student per year, or 18 students total for the program’s duration, will be chosen on the basis of certain factors, such as whether they have demonstrated experience in anti-racism advocacy and whether they can clearly articulate their plans to use their legal careers to fight systemic discrimination.The program, valued at a total of $540,000 in scholarship funds, will award each scholarship recipient a $10,000 scholarship, renewable yearly during their three-year degree, amounting to a total of $30,000 for each recipient. The scholarship recipients can also participate in the annual Day on Bay St symposium, where they can meet Scotiabank executives, members of the legal community and anti-racism community groups. Select recipients will be offered internship opportunities at either Scotiabank, a firm or a legal advocacy organization aiming to remove racism and discrimination in the legal sector.

“Like banking, the legal profession benefits enormously from the diverse perspectives of its members,” said Brian Porter, president and chief executive officer at Scotiabank.

Among other initiatives to address racial discrimination, Scotiabank has dedicated $60,000 over the next three years to the Black Future Lawyers program, with a focus on increasing interest among high school students to promote higher graduation rates within the community. The program, which is a collaboration between the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, the Black Law Students Association and members of the Black legal community, seeks to offer initiatives that extend engagement opportunities to Black students in high school, in undergraduate school and when applying to law school.

“It’s great that the private sector is recognizing that education and the diversification of education is so important for the future of Canada,” said Richard Devlin, professor and acting dean at Schulich School of Law.

"This scholarship is an important step in being able to provide more direct financial assistance to our Black-identifying students while recognizing the differential impacts of the pandemic on BIPOC communities and the burdens on Black-identifying students,” said Katia Benoit, assistant dean (admissions, recruitment and external relations) at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

Bunisha Samuels, JD student at Osgoode and one of the first scholarship recipients, last year led the inaugural Black Youth Fellowship at the Toronto City Hall, for which she assisted in mobilizing a team that centred on amending policies and infrastructure to more effectively support marginalized and racialized communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The only way we’re going to move forward with anti-racist work is to put yourself in spaces that weren’t made for you — spaces that are historically white — and receiving the scholarship will allow me to follow this path without having the pressure to repay loans,” said Baneet Hans, a first-year student at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law.

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