Osler Diversity Scholarship Program: 2019 Winners

We are pleased to announce the 2019 Osler Diversity Scholarship Recipients are Olga Abimana and Darian Baskatawang.

Mandavni Dhami

Olga Abimana is a law student at the University of Ottawa.

Olga Abimana, University of Ottawa

Olga Abimana is a law student at the University of Ottawa. Her diversity accomplishments include her involvement in securing a positive space for LGBTQ+ individuals at the Canadian Heritage offices, helping to establish the Association for Black Law Students at the University of Ottawa (Civil Law Section) and organizing a conference at the University on the impact of racial and social profiling on racialized persons.

Excerpt from submission:

(At) Canadian Heritage…I was involved in the Program supporting communities, multiculturalism and the fight against racism. This allowed me to establish a youth committee and to get involved in various other Ministry committees to lend my voice to the issues of diversity and inclusion. I also got involved in the LGBTQ2+ committee to fight for the rights of these persons and to start a discussion on the measures that could be established in the workplace to safeguard such rights. We determined that the priority was to create a positive space for this community so that they could gather with allies and exchange ideas. I fundamentally believe that inclusion starts with listening since we must understand the reality of oppressed people before taking action.

I helped establish the Association for Black Law Students at the University of Ottawa (Civil Law section). We realized that there were few black law students at the University of Ottawa and that the few students of color in the program were underrepresented within the various executive committees. As such, I believe that this association was the ideal forum for future jurists to learn about the reality of racialized persons in the Canadian criminal justice system.

Reakash Walters

Darian Baskatawang is a law student at Queen’s University.

Darian Baskatawang, Queen's University

Darian Baskatawang is a law student at Queen’s University. His diversity accomplishments include work with the Provincial and Federal governments on Indigenous matters and efforts at Queens, including his work as a member of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity and the Law Students’ Society.

Excerpt from submission:

I was the inaugural student member on the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE), tasked with forming and implementing a plan for diversity and inclusion for Queen’s University. As a member of the Law Students’ Society core as Vice-President for Communications, I’ve had the pleasure to advance changes in how the law school and student society solicits, engages and advances diversity and inclusion of queer and indigenous folks, further discuss the classes the school offers, input on mandatory classes, and review policies and regulations in relation to diversity and inclusion.

Outside of Queen’s, I’ve had the pleasure to help lead advancements in Ontario’s anti-racism laws and strategy, and further the inclusion of youth across government decision-making for the province of Ontario, later earning recognition from Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor for my sustained efforts. Acting as the Independent First Nations’ primary advocate for youth with the confidence of the Chiefs, I advised the Ontario cabinet on how to further integrate youth, queer, and indigenous diversity and inclusion within government programming, investments, and policies. This lead to the strengthening of Ontario’s Walking Together strategy on reconciliation, the strategy on anti-racism, and various Governor-in-Council orders to include more youth and/or people of colour on government agencies, boards, and commissions.

About our Diversity Scholarship Program

As part of Osler’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, in 2018, the firm established the Osler Diversity Scholarship Program for eligible second-year law students. This program provides up to two $2,500 scholarships each year to law students who, like Osler, seek to promote diversity and inclusion.

Spearheaded by Osler’s Diversity Committee, this program is designed to ensure that law students are recognized and celebrated for their diversity and inclusion efforts. Applicants were asked to demonstrate their commitment to being a diversity leader within their law school, the legal profession or the broader non-law community.

Our scholarship Selection Committee included Osler members and a representative from one of our long-term clients, the Bank of Montreal. We would like to extend a huge thank you to Paul Noble, Senior Vice-President and Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, BMO Capital Markets, for his help in selecting our inaugural winners.

We received many worthy applications and the decision was a tough one. Our sincere thanks goes out to all the students that applied. 

To read more about past winners of the Osler Diversity Scholarship Program, see here.