Gerda Bloemraad (LLB’93) was born and grew up in the Netherlands. She received her LLM from the University of Leiden in 1968 and then worked for the Dutch Ministry of Justice for a short period of time. After her marriage to a geologist in 1969, she moved to Spain, Thailand, England and Greece, eventually settling in Canada in 1975.
Upon her arrival in Canada, Bloemraad discovered that her master’s degree was not recognized and so when her two children were old enough to go to school, she applied to university once again. “Initially, my objectives for going back to university were to improve my English, pursue several academic interests and learn more about Canada, but when it became apparent that our temporary stay in Canada was becoming permanent, I applied to the College of Law,” she explains. Once accepted, Bloemraad was finally able to pursue her teenage dream of becoming a lawyer, graduating from the University of Saskatchewan in 1993 at the age of 48.
At the time, Bloemraad had no intention of one day establishing a scholarship to the College of Law. She was more concerned with affording law school and had no idea that she would eventually feel so strongly about supporting the study of immigration law. Looking back now, she can fully appreciate the support she received as a student. “I had a stimulating and interesting time in my three years at the College of Law and am grateful for the assistance received from then-Dean Peter MacKinnon, faculty
members and especially the students, who were so much younger than I, but always treated me as one of them.”
The new Gerda Bloemraad Prize in Immigration Law established in the spring of 2013, will recognize the student with the highest academic achievement in the Immigration and Refugee Law course. This is the second prize that has been set up by Bloemraad. She also formed the The Gerda R. Bloemraad Award which rewards a law student who has volunteered with an organization that assists immigrants and refugees in Canada.
For Bloemraad, she hopes it’s a gift that keeps on giving. “I just hope that the recipients of the prize will go on to make a difference in legal circles, especially in the area of immigration and refugee law.” She says whether it be in the form of hands-on assistance to individuals who desperately need help or through teaching, research or policymaking, she hopes students will go on to better understand the challenges of immigration and find solutions. “Being an immigrant myself, I know the roadblocks and the uphill battles that immigrants have to face and so I like to support students who are willing to help and who may one day be part of the immigration and refugee policymaking process in