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From the OJEN Blog

5th annual Braiding Diversity into Justice program

The Waterloo OJEN Committee held its 5th annual Braiding Diversity into Justice program by Zoom on the morning of March 31, 2022. The goal of the program is to connect marginalized and/or racialized young women between the ages of 16 and 20 with women working in the legal sector. 50 young women from the Kitchener-Waterloo area registered for the event. 

The morning began with a keynote address from Jordana Goldlist, founder of JHG Criminal Law. She inspired the participants with her personal experience of overcoming struggles with addiction and homelessness as a teenager, to graduate from law school and start her own criminal law practice.  “If you think you don’t belong in the legal profession,’ she told them, “you are exactly the type of person who needs to be here.” 

Most of the event was devoted to small group sessions where participants met with diverse women from a variety of law related careers including judges, lawyers, law clerks, legal assistants, and law students. They heard about the importance of diversity in the public service as well as tips for succeeding in law school, financing post-secondary education, finding a mentor, and other practical information for preparing for a career in the justice sector.

Here is what some of the participants had to say about the event:

I learn[ed] many things from this program but the thing that personally stuck with me is that I still can be a lawyer no matter what background I am from.”

I learned a lot about the justice system. I felt very strongly about the personal stories that everyone talked about, and I was glad to hear them. I am still deciding on what field I want to pursue, so hearing about many different types of careers in the justice system gave me a lot of information. I am still thinking about my future, and this has helped me learn a lot.

I learned a lot about law and the future of minorities in law. I loved how Jordana said ‘If you think law isn’t for you, then you’re exactly who we need.’ It was inspiring and maybe next year, you could hold this in person.

In her closing comments, Justice Catrina Braid announced the creation of the Braiding Diversity Founders Scholarship. This scholarship is available to any grade 12 or undergraduate University or College student in Ontario, pursuing post-secondary studies related to the many careers in the justice system at an Ontario University or College. The application is open to students who have attended a Braiding Diversity into Justice event in Kitchener, Ontario (online or in person), and must be a current or past resident of the Waterloo Region.

For more information, visit the Braiding Diversity into Justice webpage.

If you would like to make a donation to the Braiding Diversity Founders Scholarship, please visit the scholarship webpage.

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