A groundbreaking experiential education program at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School that addresses racism in a variety of ways has been awarded an honourable mention in the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s (CRRF) Award of Excellence program for 2012 in the education category.
Juris Doctor (JD) student Njeri Damali Campbell from Osgoode’s Anti-Discrimination Intensive Program and Patrick Case, chair of the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), which offers placements for students participating in the intensive program, were in Halifax Thursday, Oct. 18 to accept the award on the law school’s behalf. The CRRF received 32 nominations from across Canada in the following categories: Aboriginal, Education, Community, Corporate, Government and Youth.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of this program,” Damali Campbell said. “Anti-Discrimination Intensive Program students hit the ground running, helping to solve complex legal problems with human rights experts at their side.” Case said, “Having six full-time students sharing our legal work means the centre can maximize its stretched resources while providing an intense human rights-focused experience to future lawyers.”
The Anti-Discrimination Intensive Program was launched in 2011 under the academic direction of Osgoode Professor Bruce Ryder. The program, which provides up to 12 Osgoode second- and third-year students every year with intensive training in anti-discrimination law, as well as administrative law enforcement and resolution, consists of a placement for a full semester at the HRLSC, an academic seminar and a research paper. There are also three paid summer positions at the HRLSC for students in the program.
“The Anti-Discrimination Intensive Program and our partnership with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre offer an extraordinary experience that gives Osgoode students the opportunity not only to learn about discrimination and the law, but also to make a difference in our community by contributing to access to justice for those who have experienced discrimination,” said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin. “We are delighted that the Canadian Race Relations Foundation has recognized the program for its best practices in combating racism.”
The HRLSC, which is located on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto, has a team of 25 lawyers that provides free legal services throughout Ontario to people facing discrimination. Osgoode students assist the HRLSC’s lawyers by participating in the intake process and are responsible for conducting legal interviews on files that are referred from intake. In addition, students draft legal documents, partner with a centre lawyer to prepare and attend a mediation, and partner with a lawyer on a file that is scheduled for hearing by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Four Osgoode students who are currently participating in the Osgoode-HRLSC program – Njeri Damali Campbell, Nicole Davidson, Nick DiCastri and Kisha Munroe – nominated the initiative for the CRRF 2012 Award of Excellence. “This invaluable and practical learning will, no doubt, assist us in addressing racism in our future law careers,” they wrote in the nomination form.
Ryder said all of the students in the program bring “extraordinary commitment and passion to the work.” He saluted the HRLSC for devoting time and resources to training and integrating Osgoode students into a high functioning, high demand law office. “We’ve been so fortunate to partner with the team at the centre. Osgoode students have done an amazing job helping many members of marginalized communities access remedies for violations of their basic human rights, while developing a host of practical skills and critical insights along the way.”