Honour Named After Former President Orlando Da Silva
The Ontario Bar Association has introduced a new award to encourage and recognize initiatives that improve mental health in the profession. The award will be named in honour of Orlando Da Silva, a former OBA president whose 2014 Opening Remarks initiative opened up a critical conversation about mental health in the profession, and who bravely shared his own story to help reduce stigma.
The legal profession is known for its demanding and often high-stress nature, and the OBA recognizes the importance of addressing mental health issues within the industry and beyond. The Orlando Da Silva Award for Improvement of Mental Wellbeing in the Justice Sector – which will be handed out at the annual OBA Awards Gala in June – will become a key part of the association’s ongoing commitment to address the need for resources and services for lawyers, while promoting better mental health awareness.
The award will be presented annually to an individual or organization (excluding members of the OBA Board or its Awards Committee) that has invented, developed or implemented an initiative to improve mental health in the profession. The winning initiative will be one that stands out in terms of creativity, effectiveness, and broad and enduring impact.
“Our profession has a duty to prioritize the wellbeing of our colleagues, families and friends,” says Da Silva, who, as OBA president in 2014-15, helped promote the association’s commitment to nurturing a culture of wellbeing and support within the legal community. “By launching the new award, the OBA is not only recognizing those who have paved the way, but also encouraging others to join the movement towards a healthy, compassionate legal community.
“This award bears my name, but it represents a collective commitment to provide a platform for change and support in the realm of mental health.”
“Orlando's dedication to mental health advocacy has been an inspiration to us all, and a testament to all those creating safe spaces where individuals can thrive both professionally and personally,” says OBA President Kelly McDermott, expressing her admiration for Da Silva's advocacy and how this award aligns with the OBA’s goals. “It's a recognition of our shared responsibility to foster a culture of empathy, understanding, and support within our profession.”
The OBA understands the importance of addressing mental health issues in the legal community and has been actively working to provide resources, services, and opportunities for open dialogue. Through its various initiatives, the OBA has been instrumental in creating a space where lawyers can candidly discuss their mental health concerns, seek assistance, and access vital resources.
Key mental health initiatives of the OBA include:
The Mindful Lawyer CPD: Programs providing strategies for improved wellbeing in both personal and professional life.
Peer Support Networks: The OBA facilitates peer support networks, allowing legal professionals to connect with their colleagues and share their experiences.
A Mental Health Resource Hub: Helpful information to better understand mental health and the resources available to Ontario lawyers.
The OBA is inviting nominations for the Orlando Da Silva Award for Improvement of Mental Wellbeing in the Justice Sector, which will be evaluated by a dedicated committee. Any person or group is eligible for the award, except a member of the OBA Board or its Awards Committee. Nominations close on Feb. 28, 2024. The recipient will be announced at the OBA's annual awards ceremony in June 2024.
About the Ontario Bar Association
Established in 1907, the OBA is the largest voluntary legal association in Ontario representing over 16,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The OBA provides continuing professional development and advocates for improvements to the law in the interests of the profession and public.
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