Jan. 31, 2022
New scholarship helps build 2SLGBTQI+ community at law school and in law profession
For second-year law student Emma Arnold-Fyfe, dispelling some of the conservative myths about Calgary was a driving force behind a new scholarship for 2SLGBTQI+ students and their allies. As president of UCalgary Law's OUTLaw, Arnold-Fyfe knew that a scholarship could help encourage students to think of Calgary as a welcoming place.
"This scholarship is an important first step to building the 2SLGBTQI+ community at the law school and in the profession as a whole. It shows that UCalgary and law firms are committed to improving diversity... they're walking the walk, and it's inspiring to see."
The Osler and OUTLaw 2SLGBTQI+ Diversity Scholarship, only the second scholarship of its kind at UCalgary, will be offered annually to a first-year student with demonstrated involvement and meaningful contribution to the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
"We wanted to have the opportunity for allyship to be rewarded and recognized, and that a real commitment to the community, whether or not you're from within it, deserves celebration. Having somebody who isn’t necessarily part of the community stand with and make space for you is just as important," says Arnold-Fyfe.
For Jesse Baker, JD'18, a lawyer with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Calgary, creating this scholarship will hopefully provide a way for future students, and future lawyers, to see themselves and be respected in the profession "regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or anything else."
"There are some unique barriers and challenges that members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community face in the legal profession," says Baker. "You might be able to start your career without telling people about your sexuality or gender identity, but we hope people will feel comfortable being their true selves and will know they will be supported no matter what.
"Initiatives like this are one way to build that trust."
Brian Thiessen, JD’97, the managing partner of Osler’s Calgary office, notes that “Osler is proud to show its support for law students and the 2SLGBTQI+ community through this new, multi-year scholarship with OUTLaw, as part of Osler’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Having the legal community's support is exciting for Arnold-Fyfe, who acknowledges that support needs to continue beyond law school to be successful.
"One of the goals of UCalgary Law is to prepare students for the workplace. If students don't see firms building and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, it can be a harsh awakening," she says.
"Students need to see firms putting themselves out there and associating with the growth of EDI initiatives. It's also important to see that when you do leave the school, you'll be met with a real authentic push for it for EDI and growth in that field."