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FROM THE OJEN BLOG

Learning from our Sistahs in Law

Daniels Spectrum Community Centre in Toronto, Ontario for the 8th annual “Sistahs in Law” event. This event partnered black female lawyers from the Black Female Lawyer Network with students through the Ontario Justice Education Network.

There is significance of the event being held at Daniels Spectrum is that it is seen as a “cultural hub” and it supports businesses run by black individuals.

The program served as a great mentoring experience where “Little Sistahs” were able to ask “Big Sistahs” questions about being a lawyer, they were able to gain knowledge pertaining to the career, and network; enabling students to gain contacts in the field of law. Further, It did this in a way where a sense of togetherness was achieved. It gave the students the ability to not only gain knowledge about what it is like to be a lawyer, but to go more in depth and analyze what this is like for a black female.

They started the event by talking about its purpose and the black lawyers that “paved the way” such as Mytle Blackburn who became the first black female lawyer in Ontario. Then, they examined race and gender issues from a youth perspective. They did this in an interactive way where “Little Sistahs” had the opportunity to make hash tags discussing the stereotypes and negative comments they are faced in relation to people’s perception of their race and/or gender and from within their own race. This was later presented to the “Big Sistahs” and the rest of the people that attended the event in the form of a slide show presentation.

After this, because it was Remembrance Day, we had two minutes of silence to commemorate the soldiers that died to give us freedom. The significance of holding the event on Remembrance Day was that most female black lawyers worked in the government sector instead of a private practice so they are off on this day.

Later, they shared an interesting discussion where they connected the law profession to hair. Informative comments about black hair were given such as how to wear it in a way it in a way that conveys professionalism.

One of the most amazing parts of the event were the compelling stories of some black female legal professionals about their journey to their careers. They all had and are facing such difficult obstacles that vary from financial matters, to having children and being in school. One of the many inspiring stories shared was by a young women that had had two children at the age of 14 and still managed finish high school, go on to university, volunteer, and obtain a job in the law profession.

16-year-old Cathedral student Anna-Maria said, “ It was a great day that was very empowering for me because I was able to connect with other black females in a career I one day hope to be in.”

Cathedral High School student – Nikisha

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