Faculty of Law’s new Black Law Students Association holds first AGM Friday

Entire student body is invited to join and help promote diversity

Helen Metella - 05 November 2020

On November 6, the Black Law Students Association at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law is holding its inaugural annual general meeting.

All students are invited to attend the virtual event that begins at 2:30 p.m., says the group’s founder, Peace Penzi, ‘22 JD.

“I know a lot of my peers are interested in social justice issues. They’ve seen what’s going on, they saw the events of this past summer (when the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked riots throughout the United States.)

“I think people want to acknowledge their privilege and want to make a change, want to do their part.”

The Faculty of Law’s BLSA has actually existed since December 2019 when it was founded by Penzi, who moved from Toronto to attend law school and noticed the lack of diversity both at the Faculty and in the legal profession overall. With advice and assistance from Professor Ubaka Ogbogu, she established the group with only herself as a member.

To increase the membership, she scheduled its first AGM in March of 2020, but that was cancelled when the university locked down due to COVID-19 health precautions.

Since then, Penzi has been joined in the association by Grace-Chloe Lumbala, ‘22 JD, a transfer student from the University of Moncton who was the president of that law school’s BLSA.

After arriving in Edmonton, in a province with the country’s third-highest number of Black residents, according to Statistics Canada, Lumbala was startled to discover that while her former Faculty was much smaller, it had far more Black students enrolled.

Penzi and Lumbala identified a need to increase diversity among the student body and to educate their peers about why that is important.

“Everyone has a different world view and that will transfer to everything you do, in how you learn in law school and in how you practise law,” said Penzi.

“A lot of us will be dealing with minorities and with people who are different from us, and it’s important to be cognizant of people’s differences.”

The two have immediate plans to host speakers during Black History Month in February, and potentially to also convene a panel in the spring with Black lawyers, faculty members and other legal professionals who could inspire undergrads to consider UAlberta’s Faculty of Law for their JD studies.

Students interested in attending the BLSA’s AGM should email blsa@ualberta.ca to obtain a link for the meeting.