Professor Nicole LaViolette of University of Ottawa wins 2015 CBA SOGIC Hero Award

  • February 20, 2015

Ottawa – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has named Nicole LaViolette, law professor at the University of Ottawa, the winner of the 2015 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC) Hero Award.

“At the forefront of change and a role model for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited people for the past 25 years, Professor LaViolette can be described by no other word than ‘hero’,” says Kael McKenzie of Winnipeg, co-chair of SOGIC.

“Combining prolific legal expertise, remarkable writing and teaching skills and persuasive advocacy work, she has courageously defended and promoted the rights of countless people around the world who are persecuted on grounds of sexual orientation and in vulnerable positions.” adds Kael McKenzie.

Professor LaViolette has focused a significant part of her scholarly research on sexual minorities and migration issues, particularly refugee claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She has published extensively on this issue and her research has received both national and international attention. In Canada, Professor LaViolette has conducted professional development training related to sexual orientation and gender identity for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada since 1995.

Internationally, she has acted as an academic expert for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) during the drafting of the agency’s Guidelines relating to Claims to Refugee Status based on Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity.Prof. LaViolette also contributed to the design and delivery of an innovative training program offered to staff of the UNHCR to improve their capacity to work with LGBTT refugee claimants.

Professor LaViolette is a founding member of Capital Rainbow Refuge, an initiative which brings together faculty members, law students and individuals from the Ottawa community in support of refugee sponsorship applications. For over two years, group members successfully dedicated themselves to bring to Canada a lesbian couple who were facing persecution in their country of origin. The sponsorship application received federal funding and has served as a model to others.

The SOGIC Hero Award is open to lawyers, professors, law students or judges who are members of the LGBTT communities, who have advanced the cause of equality of the LGBTT communities through either a single important action or series of actions or through a career contribution. It may also recognize those, who through excellence in their profession or community, or both, have served as a role model for other members of the LGBTT communities.

Professor LaViolette will receive the award on Saturday, February 21, at the Fairmont Château Laurier, during the CBA Mid-Winter Meeting of Council. 

The meeting is open to accredited media.  Please contact Hannah Bernstein at for accreditation.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.