Law student to receive Governor General’s Youth Award

Each year, the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case honour six Canadians for their outstanding contributions in promoting women’s equality. Of those six awards, one is a Youth Award for a candidate between 15 and 25 years of age, who has demonstrated leadership and excellence in his or her field in either a paid or unpaid capacity, and advanced the cause of equality of girls and women in Canada.

Third-year Osgoode LLB student Seema Shah (left), 24, has been chosen to receive this year’s Youth Award. She will be presented with an engraved medal, representing the “Famous Five” Alberta women whose landmark victory in 1929 paved the way for women to serve in the Senate and in other aspects of public life, at a ceremony presided over by Governor General Michaëlle Jean at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Oct.18. Shah will also take part in a luncheon meeting with Beverley Oda, federal minister of Canadian heritage & status of women. Shah, along with her fellow award recipients, will be introduced in the House of Commons. Later in the day, Shah will be a guest at a special celebratory dinner hosted by Noël Kinsella, speaker of the Senate.

Right: Governor General’s medal that will be presented to Shah

“Osgoode prides itself on being a socially engaged law school and we aspire to make a difference in the world,” said Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School. “When our students, faculty and staff demonstrate an ethic of service to society, we are all richer for it. Thank you, Seema, for your fine example and congratulations on this great honour.”

Osgoode Professor Benjamin Richardson, who nominated Shah for the award, said her extensive work on women’s issues has been carried out at Parkdale Community Legal Services, where she advocates for women with physical and mental disabilities and women subjected to various types of abuse. Shah also works with the Women’s Legal Education Action Fund (LEAF) where she promotes gender equity through the Canadian legal system; the Pro Bono Students Canada, which she was involved with from May 2005 to May of this year; and with the Community & Legal Aid Services Program, as duty counsel in the fall of 2005.

Shah, as Chair of the Gender Equity Committee at McMaster University in 2003, directed a two-day White Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women. She also worked at Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre during the summer of 2001 and served as a member of the Toronto Planning Committee of the Ninth International Women’s Health Conference, which took place in Toronto in August 2002.

For more information on this award and its history, visit the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case Web site.