Alum receives 2022 Distinguished Service Award
By Stephanie Hurley
Congratulations to alum Shawna Paris-Hoyte (BA’78, LLB’84, BSW’01, MSW’03) ONS, KC, with Dalhousie Legal Aid Service (DLAS), who was awarded the 2022 Distinguished Service Award by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society on Friday, January 27 at the NSBS Recognition Reception held at Hotel Halifax.
Established in 1999, the Distinguished Service Award is presented to a member who has made significant contributions to their community, the legal profession, and the Society.
As a public servant and volunteer, Shawna’s commitment to community spans almost five decades. She has dedicated 28 of those years to public legal education, pro bono legal services and legal aid as a tool and means to provide access to justice for the marginalized and disenfranchised populations.
“It is an honour to receive the 2022 Distinguished Service Award from the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and to have my name added to the list of distinguished colleagues. I want to thank my nominator, members of the award committee and all those who have supported me and my work as a lawyer and public servant over the many years. To be considered someone worthy of such recognition is humbling to say the least. As the first Black lawyer/African Nova Scotian and person of color to receive this award, I am beyond words,” says Shawna. “I am grateful for the sacrifices of my children in supporting my career. I acknowledge my community, and my ancestors who guide my path, always. I believe that ‘to whom much is given-much is expected.’ I will endeavor to live up to those words as I continue to set a path for others and remain steadfast in my work and commitment to bring integrated law and social work to a broader public forum in the name of social justice and access to justice.”
Discover: Learn more about the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service (DLAS), which in 2020, celebrated 50 years of serving the community and educating future lawyers.
A true difference maker
Formerly of Truro (the Hill), Nova Scotia, Shawna is a fifth generation Black Nova Scotian. Along with her four degrees from Dalhousie, she has certificates in Health Law Administration (Dal 14’), Advanced Mediation (UPEI & AG 96’), Community Development (Henson College 96’) and Forensic Social Work (USA 19’).
Shawna has been involved in many exciting and innovative initiatives over the years which include being a member of the nine person Federal Task Force in Canada to draft the foundational strategic hiring workplan for the Federal Public Service entitled, Embracing Change in The Federal Public Service (01’). She is the past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Community Justice Society, she is a founding member of the Black Community Advocates Association of Nova Scotia (BCANS), she was the Project Manager for Conference 2000 (Halifax), which was the first conference held in NS to review the recommendations of the Donald Marshall Jr. Royal Commission Report. Now a member of the Board of Directors of Strongest Families Institute, she is also a commissioned Elder for the African Nova Scotian Community- Road to Prosperity initiative, which focuses on building a sustainable future for African Nova Scotians.
“I cannot overstate the impact Shawna has had over her career, not just on the individual clients she serves, but on the community as well,” says Megan Longley, Executive Director of DLAS. “We are proud to work alongside her and witness the difference she makes in the world.”
Recommended reading: Learn more about Shawna’s accomplished career through a biography on the NSBS’s website.