Nicole LaViolette and her partner Lise Hébert were both intimately involved in the Capital Rainbow Refuge (CRR), an activist legal group founded by LaViolette that works to support sexual minorities seeking to flee persecution in their home countries and relocate to Canada.
The CRR was spawned after the Globe and Mail published an op-ed piece in 2010 written by LaViolette, calling for members of the country’s queer community to step up and help support LGBT refugees the world over.
Nathalie Des Rosiers, dean of the University of Ottawa’s faculty of law, common-law section, describes LaViolette as a “visionary” who worked to “transform the way in which refugee law treated LGBT couples.”
“She really was a tremendous scholar and a tremendous colleague,” Des Rosiers says.
LaViolette received several prominent awards throughout the course of her career, recognizing her professional and academic contributions to the human rights file, the LGBT community and the broader Canadian legal community.
She received the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Hero Award from the Canadian Bar Association earlier this year, while she was awarded the Ordre du Mérite de l’Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario in 2014.
The Lambda Foundation, a nonprofit group that grants scholarships to Canadian university students conducting research pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex peoples, even renamed its award at the University of Ottawa the Nicole LaViolette Friends of Lambda Prize.
“Nicole was a wonderful role model for university students who want to do research projects on LGBTI issues, especially in the area of human rights,” says Lambda president Barbara Freeman. “She was so accomplished as a law professor but she was also a committed activist, especially for the rights of LGBTI refugees.”
Mark L Berlin, a friend and former colleague of LaViolette’s, said she was ”an extraordinarily brilliant, talented, energetic, compassionate and caring individual” who not only fought for human rights across the globe but also tried to “instill those values in her students and all those around her.”
LaViolette established a fund to assist immigrant and refugee students who enroll in the French common law program at the University of Ottawa. Those who wish to may make a donation in her name to the “Fonds Nicole LaViolette”, in care of the Dean’s office, faculty of law, University of Ottawa.
(excerpt from Xtra article by Marco Vigliotti)