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From the OJEN Blog

2021 Bursaries for Students Beginning Studies Toward Justice Sector Careers

Twenty two students from throughout the province are beginning their post-secondary studies this fall with a bursary from the Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario (AJPO), the Association of Ontario Judges (AOJ) or the Ontario Superior Court Judges’ Association (OSCJA). Students entering an Ontario university or community college program leading to a wide range of careers in the justice sector are eligible to apply. While some students are beginning undergraduate programs that will lead them to law school, others are entering Police Foundations programs, Paralegal studies, Criminology, Law Clerk studies and other justice related programs. 

This year, 271 grade 12 students applied for bursaries, making it the most competitive year to date. 

Students Were Adaptable and Resourceful During a Difficult Year

Justice of the Peace Eileen Walker, Chair of the AJPO Bursary Committee, commended students for the extraordinary efforts they had made to excel in their studies during the pandemic.

 “It is a great honour to be involved with the Bursary Program at any time but never more than during this past year.  Students have worked hard to keep up with their studies and community involvement in a less than ideal or intuitive manner.  They have had to demonstrate skills of adaptability, perseverance and resourcefulness in order to navigate their way through their academics, social and community networks.”


Recognizing the Financial Impact of the Pandemic on Youth

Bursaries are awarded based on academic excellence and financial need. This year all three associations awarded recipients $1000 each.  Both the AOJ and OSCJA doubled the amount of their bursaries, recognizing the financial impact the pandemic has had on many youth.  Justice Ferhan Javed, of the Ontario Court of Justice in Oshawa explains their decision: 

Every year, the OCJ with support from its membership on the Association of Ontario Judges (“AOJ”), has joined their Judicial colleagues in Ontario and has contributed to this initiative by awarding a $500 bursary to aspiring Grade 12 students who are committed to working in the justice sector and their communities. With the advent of the pandemic, the AOJ recognized that many deserving students are struggling financially and as such, agreed to increase the bursary to $1000. On behalf of the Chief Justice of the OCJ, I am delighted to report that the AOJ proudly disbursed seven bursaries in the amount of $1000 each, to students in seven different regions of the Ontario Court of Justice.”  


Applications to the Bursary Program Increasing Yearly

Justice of the Peace Walker noted that the quantity and quality of bursary applicants makes the selection process more and more challenging.

 “Over the past few years, the number of applicants to our Bursary Program has been increasing.  The quality of the applications is making the selection process more challenging. Although we congratulate our selected bursary recipients, we also congratulate the many students who were not selected, on their outstanding achievements.”

In other years, recipients are often invited to receive their bursaries in person at a regional courthouses in their community. Although that was not possible this year, Justice Javed says his colleagues still connected with the recipients personally:

“While the circumstances of the pandemic prevented an in-person ceremony to award the bursary recipients, our Judicial colleagues from Ontario relished the opportunity to personally call the recipients and share the great news. It is hoped the bursary will be a stepping stone in a rewarding legal career.”


More than Money Toward Expenses

Receiving a bursary can sometimes mean much more than financial help toward the costs of an education.  As the following student expresses in her thank you letter the OSCJA, it can be a vote of confidence at a crucial moment and the encouragement needed to continue pursuing a dream:

“With all sincerity, I would like to thank you so much for your efforts in helping students like me in their transition to post-secondary school. However, I would also like to thank you for helping to reignite the passion for justice in individuals who would have otherwise lost their drive. Personally, I have been feeling dispirited about my potential, but receiving the congratulatory email for the bursary was the push I needed to not falter in my pursuits and continue to strive for change.”

Thanks to all the volunteers who supported the bursary program and best of luck to all the student recipients who are beginning their post-secondary studies toward a career in the justice sector!

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