Trailblazers in Canadian Legal History: Charles Roach

Charles Roach was a Canadian lawyer, activist, and community leader who fought for social justice and equality for marginalized communities. Born on June 18, 1933, in Trinidad and Tobago, he grew up in a family of activists, and his parents were involved in the fight for independence from British colonial rule. 

In 1955, Roach moved to Canada to study engineering. However, he later changed his career path and pursued a law degree at the University of Windsor. After graduating, he became one of the first Black lawyers in Canada and established a successful law practice in Toronto. His legal work was not limited to his practice, however, as he used his expertise to advocate for the rights of marginalized communities. 

Roach played a crucial role in the development of anti-discrimination laws in Canada. He co-founded the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC) in Toronto, an organization dedicated to fighting police brutality and racial profiling, and was involved in various civil rights movements, including the civil rights movement in the United States, which led him to work with activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. 

Roach’s activism and advocacy work have left a lasting impact on Canada’s social justice landscape. He received numerous awards and honours, including the Order of Canada in 2014, which recognized his contributions to human rights and social justice. He passed away on October 2, 2012, but his legacy lives on, and his work serves as a reminder of the importance of standing up for marginalized communities and advocating for the equality of all humans. 

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