By Neil Armstrong
A Jamaican corporate/commercial lawyer, Dahlia Bateman, has been inducted into the prestigious Bertha Wilson Honour Society at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
It recognizes extraordinary alumni and showcases their geographic reach and contributions to law and society.
The Schulich School of Law at the university established the society in 2012, in tribute to Madam Justice Bertha Wilson, the first woman appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal and the first female judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.
According to dean of the law school, Camille Cameron, Bateman was selected for the Bertha Wilson Honour Society for her “contributions and achievements as a student, a lawyer, a committed community member, leader and volunteer.”
She was lauded for being a “credit to the law school, university, profession and community”.
Bateman started out in private practice in general litigation. A fierce litigator, she quickly won a major decision in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice protecting a patient’s right to refuse medication.
More recently, she won an appellate decision that helped to define the law on declaratory relief while protecting a plaintiff’s right to a jury trial.
After 13 years since graduating from Dalhousie, she has firmly established herself in the legal arena.
While at Dalhousie, she was the university ombudsperson from 2002 to 2004, the student representative on the law school admissions committee, a member of the standing committee of the Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative, and vice-president of the Black Law Students Association.
Upon graduation from law school, she received the prestigious David M. Jones Memorial Award.
A strong believer in giving back, Bateman has balanced her work and family life with advocacy and volunteerism.
She serves on various boards in the Greater Toronto Area, including St. Leonard’s Place, a transitional home for formerly incarcerated men, and the A-Supreme Nursing Foundation which assists vulnerable senior citizens.
Bateman is also a member of Toronto District School Board’s black students advisory committee where she assists in drafting policies intended to increase graduation rates among black high school students and to address systemic anti-black racism.
She is a mentor for students, particularly those who have an interest in pursuing a career in law, and volunteers in the Ontario Bar Association’s elementary school mock trial program.
Her commitment to lending a hand beyond Canada’s borders to advance the well-being and education of youth is demonstrated in her Jamaican projects.
As someone who was born in Manchester, Jamaica she sponsors back-to-school programs there by paying for students’ tuition, transportation, food and school supplies for low- income families in that parish and Clarendon.
Bateman is also a volunteer advisor for the Canadian Executive Services Organization, an international economic development organization which offers humanitarian assistance and professional advice to organizations in over 120 countries around the world.
She is is regular guest on local radio programs commenting on topical or legal issues, and is a frequent speaker at conferences.
Bateman has received awards from the Manchester High School alumni association and the Knox College alumni association (New York Chapter), representing her alma maters.
[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, Nov. 16-22, 2017 issue.]