New scholarship, memorial endowment announced for BIPOC law students

Endowment honours first Black person appointed to Alberta Provincial Court, Court of Queen's Bench

New scholarship, memorial endowment announced for BIPOC law students
The University of Alberta Faculty of Law

The new Lionel Jones Memorial Endowment in Law at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law aims to support law students who self-identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour and to promote racial diversity, equity and inclusion.

Lionel Jones attained many milestones within the legal profession, according to the law school’s news release. Jones was the second Black person to graduate from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law when he received his LLB in 1963 and was the first Black man and the second Black person to be admitted to the Law Society of Alberta upon his call to the bar in June 1964.

Jones was also the first Black judge to be appointed to the Provincial Court of Alberta in 1977 and the first Black justice to join the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in 1995. In 1990, he was the first recipient of the National Black Coalition of Canada’s James Bell Award, which recognizes “outstanding courage and achievement against challenging odds.”

Jones previously worked as a Crown prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney General of Alberta, as senior Crown counsel at the Department of Justice and as a sessional instructor for the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and for MacEwan University’s law enforcement program.

Jones retired from the bench in 2001 and passed away on Oct. 19, 2016 at age 78.

“It is always a proud and humbling moment for the Faculty of Law when members of the legal community join together to support our students,” said Barbara Billingsley, the law school’s dean, in the news release.

Anne Russell, a classmate of Jones and previously a judge of Alberta’s Provincial Court and justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal, initiated the new endowment.

“Although he never acknowledged or complained about any form of discrimination, it was not always easy to have been one of the very few persons of colour in Edmonton during that era,” said Russell in the news release.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and the classmates and friends of Jones contributed funds to the endowment.

“Osler is committed to the promotion and expansion of diversity in the legal profession, and we are extremely proud to be able to contribute to a University of Alberta award in the name of Lionel Jones,” said Brian Thiessen, Osler’s managing partner for Calgary, in the news release.

MLT Aikins LLP has also announced the launch of its Indigenous Scholarship, which will award $6,000 to one second-year student in a law school in Canada. Students can apply via the firm’s website by providing a cover letter, their resume, transcripts and a reference from their Indigenous community. The firm will name the winner of the inaugural scholarship in March 2022.

MLT Aikins said in its news release that it is dedicated to advancing Indigenous perspectives and representation in the legal community, and to fostering a learning environment that is supportive of Indigenous success within and beyond the legal profession. The firm plans to keep recognizing the achievements of Indigenous law students by continuing to offer the scholarship program in the coming years.

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