A commitment to community: Yasir Naqvi receives 2019 Lincoln Alexander Award

Posted: 05/17/2019

Yasir NaqviCalled to the Bar in 2001, Yasir Naqvi, a first generation Canadian, has committed his life to community and public service.

Over the course of his career as a lawyer, academic, community leader, member of provincial parliament, cabinet minister, and, now, Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, Yasir has consistently devoted his life’s work to building stronger and more diverse communities, fighting for greater equality and inclusion in our laws and institutions, and bringing people together to break down racial barriers and division.

Under his leadership as a Cabinet Minister serving three major portfolios, and as the first Attorney General of Ontario of Muslim faith, he led significant justice reforms across the province. Yasir has an unwavering commitment to his community, working tirelessly to make Ontario a better place to live.

Yasir is this year’s recipient of the Lincoln Alexander Award which recognizes an Ontario lawyer who has demonstrated long-standing interest and commitment to the public and to the pursuit of community service on behalf of residents in Ontario.

What does this award mean to you?

It is an honour to receive an award named after Lincoln Alexander. He was a trailblazer whose accomplishments have enabled many Canadians of diverse backgrounds to achieve success in public life. To be chosen for this award is validation that public and community service is about making an impact, especially on those who may be marginalized in our communities.

What drives you (or has driven you) in your legal career?

Law is a tool to help others, in particular those who may not have the means or necessary resources. As such, during my public service as an elected representative, I focused on working with marginalized communities. As the Attorney General, I chose to use my legal training to address inequities in our system towards people with mental health challenges, Indigenous, and racialized communities.

What piece of advice do you have for new legal professionals beginning their career?

Law is a powerful tool. The legal training you have received has given you the skills to use this tool to build a better community—do not be shy to use it. As lawyers, it is our duty to uphold the rule of law, fight to protect the rights of all citizens, and ensure the independence of the justice system.

The Lincoln Alexander Award was established in 2002 and is awarded annually. The award was created in honour of The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, PC, CC, OOnt, CD, QC, LSM, to reward his dedication to the people of Ontario and the legal community.

This year, 12 outstanding members of the legal professions will be honoured with Law Society awards on May 22nd.