By Nicole Georges
Roslyn Baichoo, Deputy Legal Director with the Ontario government, has stressed the crucial role of mentorship in the success of Black youth.”
Speaking at the annual Black History Month celebration hosted by the Malvern Onyx Lion’s Club, she related the stories of famous jurists who were encouraged to pursue law by their mentors.
She also told the story of her own career and the challenges she has faced as a Black female lawyer working on Bay Street, noting the role that mentorship has played in helping her to persevere through difficult moments.
Baichoo said theat while working as a lawyer, she often felt like an outsider, despite her success.
“I was always dressed very well, in my expensive suits, and I was always mistaken for a Legal assistant. I never felt like I belonged.”
She went on to speak of the influence of one of her role models, Desiree Bernard, “the first woman to become a high court judge in Guyana.
“On Radio Guyana, you would hear Justice Bernard had sentenced so and so, or Justice Bernard was going to be sitting to hear this case or that case, and suddenly it became evident to me that this was a profession that was welcoming to women.
I wrote to her and told her she was the reason that I had become a lawyer.”
Baichoo drew a comparison between Justice Bernard, and Madame Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin, Canada’s first female Supreme Court Judge, to highlight the importance of the role of mentors in their careers.
“Both of these women were put on their path in law, by men who encouraged them to get into law.
“Our youth need that type of mentorship.”
Baichoo believes that the dearth of people of colour in professions at higher levels, can be traced in part to a lack of mentorship.
Baichoo’s sentiments were echoed by other speakers at the Malvern Onyx Lion’s club event, who regaled the audience with the historic and current achievements of Black people world wide.
The event which also featured singing, dance, cuisine and art, was held at St.John the Divine Church Hall in Scarborough.