Each February, Canada recognizes Black History Month and honours the contributions of Black Canadians. This month, we are highlighting the commitment to pro bono service exemplified by the following Pro Bono Law Alberta volunteers and champions.
Angela Egbase has volunteered with the Civil Claims Duty Counsel Project and the King’s Bench Court Assistance Program. She was awarded a 2017 PBLA Outstanding Volunteer Award in recognition of her volunteer activities on these programs.
Angela completed her legal education in Nigeria, where she practiced for a number of years before immigrating to Canada. She was called to the Alberta Bar in 2015, and now practices at AE LEGAL with a focus on estate planning, family law, and real estate law. Outside of her pro bono work with PBLA, Angela is also a past volunteer at Calgary Legal Guidance, one of Alberta’s pro bono legal clinics, where she donated her time as a volunteer researcher.
Rukaiyat Lawal began her time with PBLA as a volunteer for both the Civil Claims Duty Counsel and King’s Bench Court Assistance programs, and later joined the PBLA staff as the Edmonton Court-Based Program Coordinator. During her time as a volunteer, she was the recipient of two 2018 PBLA Outstanding Volunteer Awards for her contributions to both programs.
Rukaiyat completed her legal education in Nigeria, and after immigrating to Canada received the Certificate of Qualification from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. When not supporting the Edmonton court-based programs for PBLA, Rukaiyat is an avid volunteer in the pro bono sector, volunteering for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton and the Edmonton Community Legal Centre. She is an active member of the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch, where she sits on the Legislative Review Committee, which is responsible for reviewing and commenting on bills introduced in the Alberta Legislature. Outside of the legal sector, Rukaiyat volunteers for the Kids Food Basket Campaign, where she collaborates with the Edmonton Food Bank to empower, educate and provide food to Canadian families in need.
Wasiu Omotoso is a former PBLA volunteer who was a recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Volunteer Award for his volunteer work at the Civil Claims Duty Counsel Project, which provides free legal consultations to members of the public on civil matters at the Provincial Court.
Wasiu began his legal education in Nigeria, and went on to complete his Master of Laws at the University of Manitoba in 2014. After completing his articles at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Calgary, he was called to the Bars of Alberta and Ontario in 2016. Wasiu has since moved to Toronto where he is now Legal Counsel at Walsh Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of The Walsh Group, one of the largest construction companies in North America.
Charles Osuji is a champion for pro bono causes, and an active mentor for internationally trained lawyers in Alberta. Through his work with internationally trained lawyers, he was referred numerous volunteers to pro bono organizations around our province, including PBLA.
Charles received his legal education in Nigeria, and was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 2014. He began articling at what was then called Smith Law Office, and became a named partner in 2016, and sole owner of Osuji & Smith in 2017. Charles currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Calgary Regional Immigrant Employment Council, where he also volunteers as a mentor to other internationally trained professionals. He has previously volunteered for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary and the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. Charles is also a volunteer for the Igbo Cultural Association, the Mustard Seed, and Habitat for Humanity.
Chidinma Thompson is an active PBLA volunteer, having been involved in both the Civil Claims Duty Counsel and King’s Bench Court Assistance programs with her firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, one of PBLA’s longstanding program partners. Chidinma is a partner in the Commercial Litigation and Regulatory Group at the BLG office in Calgary.
Chidinma received her law degree from University of Nigeria and her Master of Law at the University of Calgary. She also received her Ph.D. in law from the University of Calgary in 2014, being the first Ph.D. graduate from the faculty of law. She has taught various law courses at the University of Calgary. In addition to her pro bono work with PBLA, Chidinma is an active volunteer at Youth Law at the Alex (formerly the Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre), a law student mentor through the Canadian Bar Association and a student mentor at Student Legal Assistance.
These volunteers represent only a small number of the dedicated volunteer lawyers, law students and internationally trained lawyers who generously donate their time to support pro bono causes in Alberta. PBLA is thankful for the contributions of all its volunteers; their support is invaluable in providing access to justice for unrepresented people across our province.