Later today, a judge whose family immigrated to Canada and who was raised in Toronto’s Regent Park will receive The Honourable Lincoln Alexander ’53 Award from the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.
Justice Donald McLeod was called to the bar in 1998 and began practising criminal law at Hinkson, Sachak in Toronto. He went on to found The McLeod Group and embarked on an illustrious career in the areas of criminal, human rights and administrative law. In September 2013, he was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice.
“Justice McLeod’s life trajectory is an inspiration and exemplification of perseverance,” said BLSA President Semhar Woldai, a second-year Juris Doctor (JD) student at Osgoode Hall Law School. “We are honoured to present this award to him as part of our Black History Month Celebration.”
McLeod has been involved in many programs to support youth. He founded and chairs 100 Strong, an initiative to fund a summer school program for 12- and 13-year-old African Canadian boys, and co-chairs Stand Up, a mentorship program for boys in Grades 7 and 8, many of whom are from at-risk neighbourhoods. McLeod also hosts Black Robes, a professional development initiative to mentor new lawyers and law students of African-Canadian descent.
In addition to the presentation of the Lincoln Alexander Award, the BLSA will present a new Law School Admission Test (LSAT) Bursary Award to four worthy students. Over the past several years, the BLSA has held fundraising activities each semester to fund the LSAT Bursary, which is aimed at increasing the representation of black individuals in the legal profession by strengthening the candidacy of law school applicants from the black community. The recipients of the LSAT Bursary will receive full tuition toward an LSAT prep course with HarvardReady (approximate value of $1400).
The BLSA created the Lincoln Alexander Award to pay tribute to the pioneering efforts of Alexander – an Osgoode graduate, first black member of Canada’s Parliament and the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario – who passed away in 2012. The inaugural award was presented last year to Justice Michael Tulloch ’89 (LLB) of the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The award and bursaries will be presented at a special event taking place from 3:30 to 5pm in the Moot Court located on the main floor of Osgoode Hall Law School. McLeod will speak at 4:30pm.