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Alberta government honours Canada's first Black woman lawyer

Last Updated Feb 26, 2021 at 7:15 pm MDT

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) -The Alberta government is paying tribute to a woman who broke barriers in the country’s legal system.

Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Leela Aheer was in Edmonton Friday morning to honour Violet King Henry, who became the first Black person to obtain a law degree in Alberta and the first Black person admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1954 becoming the first Black woman lawyer in Canada.

“Violet King Henry was a trailblazer who broke glass ceilings and is a role model for women and girls to this day,” said Aheer, who declared the Edmonton Federal Building Plaza will be renamed for Henry.

“Violet King Henry dedicated her life to fighting for Black people‚Äôs rights,” said Justice Minister Kaycee Madu. “Today we pay tribute not just to her incredible legacy, but also the countless men and women who enjoyed greater opportunities because of the doors she opened.”

Jo-Anne Henry-Bent, daughter of Violet King Henry was unable to attend the ceremony but said in a statement she is thrilled, honoured, humbled and excited that Henry and her family are being recognized by the Alberta government.

“She was just as courageous, brilliant and steadfast as a mother as she was as a trail-blazing leader,” the statement reads. “I have no doubt that she is smiling with great joy at this honour, and my family and I can’t wait to make our journey to Alberta to visit all of the sites significant to our family’s history, especially this beautiful plaza that will now bear her name.”

Violet King Henry was born in Calgary in 1929 and attended the University of Alberta from 1948 to 1953. She died of cancer in 1982 at the age of 52.