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As a bi-racial woman, I grew up with a sense of belonging and inclusion within my family, protected from much of the adversity faced by BIPOC. However, throughout my life I have on occasion experienced that adversity and sometimes the fear many BIPOC live with each day. My father made the first human rights complaint of discrimination on the basis of race under the then new Alberta human rights legislation, opening my eyes to the plight and difficulties faced by BIPOC. When I joined the Department of Justice, I became part of the Action Committee on Visible Minorities aimed at enhancing the opportunities and representation of BIPOC in the department.

So, when I was asked to head Nelligan Law’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee there was no hesitation. Nelligan Law is renowned for championing the rights of its clients and for its massive efforts to promote and safeguard the rights of vulnerable groups. Our firm is representative of the community it serves with staff and lawyers who come from all over the world and who represent not only the BIPOC communities but also the 2SLGBTQ+ community and People with Disabilities.

The importance of diversity and inclusion has been brought to the forefront in Ottawa, Canada and North America where incidents of police violence against Black men and women has led to protests in every major city. Systemic discrimination against BIPOC has been highlighted in the media with stories of around health services for Indigenous Peoples.

It is clear from these current events that diversity is not enough. We must work toward ensuring an inclusive workplace and community, eliminating the barriers that still exist for BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+ and People with Disabilities. This has been the goal of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Nelligan Law. Recent events bringing to light the adversity faced by BIPOC and the 2SLGBTQ+ Community signal that we are at a turning point where change is possible. Representing the partnership, it is empowering to see the potential and to be part of that change. The members of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee are passionate about their contribution toward inclusion and make possible many of the initiatives that Nelligan Law has adopted. In order to foster inclusion, Nelligan Law has revisualized its Corporate Social Responsibility to enhance its efforts at bringing change internally and to the community it serves. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, Nelligan Law is partnering with different community organizations representing BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+ and People with Disabilities to bring opportunities for members of the Nelligan Law family to volunteer and be part of the change.

Don’t just say change is needed, be that change.

Author(s)

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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