Award Description: From 2010 to 2019 the AFCC-O had the Bala Award for Student Excellence to recognize achievement by students in law, social work and related disciplines who intended to pursue careers in Family Law. The Award was created when the Ontario Chapter was getting established to help us connect with students.
Since 2010, the AFCC-O has had an extensive program of outreach to professional students, including establishing the Walsh Family Moot and the Walsh Family Negotiation Competition, and expanded its conference scholarship program and mentoring program, so in 2019 the Board decided to cease giving this Award. The AFCC-O continues to strive to strengthen ties to students and to support and mentor those starting their careers.
The AFCC-O also acknowledges the contributions to Family Justice of Professor Nicholas Bala, whose interdisciplinary research has had a major impact on developing knowledge on the effect of legislation and the justice system on children and families. The Award was named in his honour in 2010 when he had 4th stage metastatic melanoma, but happily he survived, served on the AFCC-O Board for three years, and presented the 2019 (and last) winner with the Award!
The winner of the 2019 Nicholas Bala Award for Student Excellence is Priya Khalsa.
Priya Khalsa obtained her Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences with a Psychology minor from Western University. During her undergrad, she volunteered with young adults at a mental health care hospital and with impoverished children in the Dominican Republic, planning English language learning activities.
Ms. Khalsa graduated from the combined Juris Doctor and Master of Social Work program at the University of Toronto in 2019. At the Faculty of Social Work, she specialized in Children and their Families and acquired a solid understanding of child and adolescent welfare in the context of the family microsystem. She completed her social work placement at Ujima House, where she supervised therapeutic access visits and provided support to racialized families who faced child protection concerns and other personal barriers.
At the Faculty of Law, she participated in the Walsh Family Law Negotiation Competition, first as a competitor then as a student coach. She was also part of Pro Bono Students Canada’s Family Law Project (PBSC), volunteering at the Ontario Court of Justice. She is especially interested in interdisciplinary family law. She completed a full year law and social work practicum at the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Supervised Access Program where she developed a 6-chapter family law and supervised access e-learning module to assist in the training of social work professionals.
From 2018-2019, she was part of PBSC’s Bioethics Project at Sick Kids Hospital where she conducted research and presented on “The Best Interests of the Child: What Can Healthcare Law Learn from Family Law?”. She became interested in expert evidence and family law after presenting on the topic of expert evidence bias at the Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the Law conference. In 2018, she joined the Board of Directors for Family Services York Region, a non-profit organization devoted to the wellbeing of youth and their families. Ms. Khalsa is currently articling at J K Hannaford Barristers in Toronto.