Osler Diversity Scholarship Program: Past Winners

Maryam Hassan

Maryam Hassan, Osgoode Hall Law School

Maryam Hassan, Osgoode Hall Law School - 2020 Winner

Excerpt from submission: “My passion for being a diversity leader and fostering inclusion had inspired me to create Serendipity Visual Arts in June 2014 - the first youth-led workshop in St. James Town. Throughout the sessions, we provide professional high-quality arts programming to racialized youth of low socio-economic status in the community. Serendipity Visual Arts was previously funded through generous grants, including ArtReach Toronto and Toronto Arts Council. This allowed us to have guest artist visits, trips to local art galleries, and weekly workshops held at the SJT Community Corner. It also provides an inclusive and safe space for vulnerable youth in the community to come together, make meaningful connections, and share their diverse stories through the medium of art.

During this COVID crisis, I have interned at Neighbourhood Legal Services (NLS), which serves residents in many high-priority neighbourhoods in Toronto, including St. James Town. It is such a hard-earned privilege to be working to give back to my community. My work at NLS continues this academic year, as I complete my Pro Bono placement there and advocate for diverse clients with disabilities and those who are facing housing evictions during the pandemic.”

Chris Osei-Kusi

Chris Osei-Kusi is a law student at the University of Windsor

Chris Osei-Kusi, University of Windsor - 2020 Winner

Excerpt from submission: “I decided to found Switch Mentality. Switch Mentality is an organization that focuses on relaying to these minority athletes that they too could become doctors, lawyers, and advocates. Switch Mentality would aid in ensuring that lack of representation should not deter you from entering predominately white spaces. I took it upon myself to create "how-to" videos to assist with simplifying the process of applying to law school. Videos like How to Take the LSAT for Free and, How to Increase your GPA in 30 Minutes using Grammarly garnered a thousand views on Instagram and elicited hundreds of messages. The process was becoming simpler, minorities who believed this level of education was out of reach began to ask for more information.”

Mandavni Dhami

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

Olga Abimana, University of Ottawa - 2019 Winner

Excerpt from application: “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.”

Mandavni Dhami

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

Darian Baskatawang, Queen's University - 2019 Winner

Excerpt from application: “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.”

Mandavni Dhami

Mandavni Dhami (University of Toronto) and Douglas Rienzo, retired partner and former Diversity Committee Chair.

Mandavni Dhami, University of Toronto - 2018 Winner

Excerpt from application: “I am directly responsible for developing the Reconciliation Committee. The Committee was formed after I suggested to the DLS Executive that the clinic required a meaningful and organized approach to reconciling Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations. We are currently developing a strategic plan of action and will be collaborating on a project for this upcoming academic year.”

Reakash Walters

Barry Fong, Reakash Walters (University of Ottawa), Clark Holden and Donna White.

Reakash Walters, University of Ottawa - 2018 Winner

Excerpt from application: “While I was completing my undergraduate degree in Communications, I became interested in how organizations and individuals can learn more about people they may view as different through diversity and inclusion training. I decided to take a three-day training course on the topic and the facilitators, impressed with my contributions, asked me to join their team. I was thrilled at the opportunity and jumped into the work… It was incredibly rewarding work and I had the opportunity to facilitate learning for a variety of groups, including health professionals, dentists, community organizers and university students. Every session I saw a light come on in a least one participant’s face as they understood why diversity in all settings was key to organizational success.”

 


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 the firm’s Managing Partner Doug Bryce, Osler Diversity Committee Chair Shuli Rodal and other Osler members from the diversity committee.

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