Students in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law who are invested in combatting racism and promoting inclusivity will have more opportunities to put their passion into practice thanks to a new Scotiabank scholarship program.
The Scotiabank Program for Law Students launched nationwide recently with the goal of increasing the number of future lawyers who are tackling issues of systemic discrimination and building momentum for positive change.
“I’m very excited for our faculty to be a part of the Scotiabank Program for Law Students and to join with Scotiabank in our commitment to providing a top legal education to future leaders who will bring about meaningful change in our society,” said dean Barbara Billingsley of the Faculty of Law.
The U of A is one of six schools from across Canada that will benefit from the award, along with York University, the University of Victoria, McGill University, the University of Windsor and Dalhousie University. The program will distribute a total of $540,000 in scholarship funds across all six schools.
“Like banking, the legal profession benefits enormously from the diverse perspectives of its members,” says Brian Porter, president and CEO of Scotiabank. “The Scotiabank Program for Law Students endeavours to give the next generation of legal professionals a stronger voice and presence in furthering the fight against racial discrimination. We are confident that this first-in-Canada program will help create positive and lasting change for the benefit of all Canadians.”
The Scotiabank Program for Law Students encourages students to pursue anti-racism advocacy by supporting them to complete law school and enter the profession. At the U of A, preference will go to students who self-identify as Black, Indigenous or persons of colour and who meet the award’s criteria.
“Our faculty understands the critical role of the legal system in addressing systemic discrimination and overcoming inequality,” said Billingsley. “For that process to succeed, it is essential that voices for inclusivity be front and centre in the legal profession, and that process starts with the law students of today.”
Three students in the U of A’s Faculty of Law will receive the award, with one student selected each year for the next three years. Each scholarship is valued at $30,000 and will be paid out over the course of the student’s three years in law school. The award recognizes students who have demonstrated their commitment to supporting marginalized or disadvantaged groups.
Along with financial support, recipients will have networking opportunities with Scotiabank executives, members of the legal profession and community organizations the students may be interested in supporting. Select recipients of the nationwide program will be offered internship opportunities with Scotiabank, a law firm or another advocacy organization.
“As a Faculty of Law, we are committed to supporting students who will give voice to equality and anti-racism priorities, and to providing them with the legal skills that they need to pursue and preserve meaningful change,” said Billingsley, whose actions at the start of her term in July 2020 included renewing the faculty’s commitment to anti-racism as a significant component of teaching and research and ensuring that students feel welcome, heard and supported.
“The prospect of a racialized voice being denied a legal education because of financial restraints is completely unacceptable. The Scotiabank Program for Law Students is an important positive step in ensuring that those voices receive a legal education and the opportunities that go along with that education.”
| By Sarah Kent for © Troy Media