The Ottawa Business Journal recently published an article calling Katie Black, LL.B. 2009, a ‘rockstar’ – and it’s not hard to see why:
“She’s clerked for Beverley McLachlin, the first female chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Within six years, Black made partner at Ottawa law firm Caza Saikaley LLP. She helped bring more than 4,000 refugees to Canada by co-creating a program to deliver free legal services to private sponsors of Syrian refugees.
And by age 35, she was made an adviser to the federal justice minister.
On top of all that, she put herself through law school as a single mom and graduated with high honours.”
Her work to help refugees through the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program, however, is perhaps her greatest achievement. In 2015, after seeing the photo of the lifeless body of young Alan Kurdi on the beach after drowning in the Mediterranean while his family attempted to escape Syria, Katie knew she had to do something.
After learning that one of the largest barriers to privately sponsoring refugees was the paperwork involved, Katie realized she could help. She reached out and asked for volunteers to undergo refugee law training in order to deliver free legal support to Canadians interested in sponsoring refugees. 80 lawyers signed up within the first three days.
400 people attended a legal clinic hosted at City Hall to learn about the sponsorship process, and the program quickly went national, growing to 11 cities and 1,400 volunteers.
“I wasn’t the only one who felt helpless; everyone at the bar, it seems, felt like they were watching this human tragedy happen, and all they wanted was a way to help,” Katie told the OBJ. “We gave them the avenue through the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program.”
Katie has won numerous awards, including the Gordon F. Henderson Award from the CCLA, the Ontario Bar Association’s David Scott Award for Pro Bono Law, and in 2018 was awarded the most prestigious award available to uOttawa Common Law alumni: membership to the Honour Society.