WINDSOR, Ontario (Wednesday, March 31, 2021) — The University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law announced, on Monday, details of scholarships, in honour of pioneering law alumnus, Thora H. Espinet.
Recognizing issues with anti-Black racism (ABR) at the institution, and making a commitment to tackling ABR, University of Windsor Law has launched a series of initiatives, including a Black student scholarship initiative, named in honour of the venerable lawyer.
“We must create long-term solutions to correcting the inequality and inequity, created by systemic racism. This scholarship and the ensuing bursaries, named in my honour, will annually assist and support capable, qualified students, who may otherwise be financially-incapable of studying law.
“With Windsor making building of the trust fund an ongoing priority, over time, more and more Black students will be helped each year,” commented Espinet.
A former Small Claims Court Deputy Judge, Espinet, a past professor of criminal law at Centennial College, is also a past panel member of the Official Guardian, and former Chair of the Canada Pension Plan Tribunal.
Called to the bar in 1984, she is a lawyer and family law mediator, based in Toronto. Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, Espinet (nee Ellis) moved to London, England, with her parents, before moving to Toronto.
After completing her undergraduate degree at York University, she graduated from Windsor Law to become one of the first Black women lawyers in Ontario.
She is a recipient of The 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women Award; The African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Law; the Government of Canada’s sesquicentennial “150 Neighbours” Community Builder Award; and The Law Society of Upper Canada’s prestigious Lincoln Alexander Award for Community Service and Leadership.
“We do not see money as a means of replacing the ABR work that needs to be done. We would like, however, to be able to provide direct financial assistance to Black-identifying students, through scholarships, to recognize the differential impacts of the pandemic on BIPOC communities and the burdens on our Black-identifying students from campus climate issues,” the University stated in a media release on Monday.
“In the Fall, we allocated $100,000 in new financial support for Black students. $50,000 in bursaries will be released, this term, for current students, and $50,000 in admissions scholarships have been established. These bursaries are named in honour of Thora Ellis-Espinet (a 1982 grad and one of the first Black women lawyers in Ontario),” the release added.
The University of Windsor Law scholarships will be awarded commencing in the Fall of 2021, and consist of two parts: an annual $1500 scholarship, and a one-time $50,000 endowment, which will be allocated to as many students as meet the criteria.
Both bursaries are funded by University of Windsor Law, with any additional public donations, over and above the original offering, added to the trust fund yearly, to create additional annual scholarships.
To apply for Thora Ellis-Espinet Scholarship visit: www.uwindsor.ca/studentawards/381/uwinawardapplication. To make a tax deductible contribution to this scholarship go to: bit.ly/EspinetScholarship.