Black Law Students’ Association celebrates diversity

Law students honour Black History Month with diverse panel of speakers

Raphael Tachie, President of the B.C. Chapter of the Canadian Assosiation of Black Lawyers, addresses students. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

On Monday, Feb. 6, TRU Black Law Students’ Association club hosted a discussion panel called Diversity in Practice. It consisted of four accomplished black professionals in the field of law. The panel was a forum for guest speakers to discuss their experiences of advancing in the legal profession as people of colour.

Black History Month is celebrated annually in the month of February. During this month, communities across Canada recall outstanding contributions and sacrifices made by the black community.

However, Black History Month is also also an opportunity for those in minority groups to encourage and promote intercultural activities.

There are a variety of diversity issues in the world arena that need to be addressed, and events such as this bring relevance to intercultural conflicts, acts of terror and prejudices towards minority groups in society.

Cemeka Douglas, president of TRU Black Law Students’ Association said, “Last semester we had the idea to organize our first event and we wanted it to be inclusive for everybody. We did not want anybody to feel like their voice did not matter or make people think that it is a race issues club. The point of the club is to share diverse stories and diverse situations.”

Douglas, who came to Canada in 2015 and was the only black student in TRU law department, initiated the idea of launching a club that promotes diversity, and advances black excellence and ethnicity in the legal field.

Last year, Douglas and her friends officially launched the TRU Black Law Students’ Association club.

Douglas and her team invited lawyers from the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, and among the attendees was retired B.C. Supreme Court judge Justice Selwyn Romilly, who was the first black Canadian appointed to B.C.’s Supreme Court.

“Diversity in Practice is perfect as it is exactly what we wanted. We wanted to see diverse faces in the legal field who practice law and doing it excellent,” Douglas said.

Guest speakers discussed their experiences of gaining success in the law profession as people of colour.

“It was really important to see people of colour in the legal field doing amazing things, and I am so thankful that they actually came all the way here and took time out of their busy schedules.

“Such presentations were important not only for people of colour, but also for women and for other minority groups who might experience the same issue or concerns,” Douglas said.