Canada’s first Sikh law students’ group at Osgoode is working to create a national network

Photo of Osgoode Sikh Students' Association Co-Presidents Tripat Kaur Sandhu (left) and Dalraj Gill in Gowling's Hall
OSSA co-presidents Tripat Kaur Sandhu (left) and Dalraj Singh Gill

Members of the fledgling Osgoode Sikh Students’ Association (OSSA) are playing a key role in bringing Sikh law students together at law schools across Canada.

The organization, which was launched in the summer of 2022, was the first of its kind in the country and will play an important role in improving members’ law school experience, said co-president Dalraj Singh Gill, a 2025 candidate in the JD/MBA program.

“The feeling of community in law school can make or break a student’s experience,” he said, “and allowing a Sikh student to interact and work with other Sikh students allows them to share experiences and memories that resonate amongst the group.”

3L student and co-president Tripat Kaur Sandhu and Karen Kaur Randhawa ’23 took the lead in establishing OSSA in 2022. Sandhu, Randhawa and Gill hope the initiative will enrich not only Sikh students at the law school, but the wider Osgoode community, the legal profession at large, and Sikh law students across Canada.

Gill said the organization is helping Sikh law students to remain rooted in the central principles of the Sikh faith, including the pursuit of justice and standing against oppression – ideals that are also relevant to the practice of law.

In addition, members hope the organization, through its various events and activities, will help improve understanding of the Sikh community at Osgoode and will provide a platform to advocate for Sikh issues and other racialized and minority communities at Osgoode.

“Our goal, among others,” said Gill, “is to tackle systemic barriers that prevent Sikh students and persons of colour from accessing the legal profession.”

From their beginnings with OSSA, Sandhu, Randhawa and Gill have actively reached out to Sikh law students across Canada, supporting them in their efforts to launch chapters at their own universities. Sikh law students’ associations followed at the University of Ottawa in January of 2023, Toronto Metropolitan University in February of 2023, the University of Windsor in May of 2023, Thompson Rivers University in the summer of 2023, and Queens University in the fall of 2023. For 2024, an SSA chapter is being eyed at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

“We are also hoping to get in touch with B.C. law schools,” said Gill, “and then later expand across to law schools in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia.”

The chapters are not officially affiliated with the Canadian Association of Sikh Lawyers. But Gill said Sikh law students’ groups already established hope to create a Canada-wide network that will extend to alumni groups and professionals who have already established themselves in the legal field. A longer-term goal is to eventually host a national conference involving all SSA chapters.

Last year, the Osgoode Legal & Literary Society presented OSSA with its annual Student Club for Community Building Award.