Background to the Award

In May 2020, Justin Basinger (JD 2012), passed away suddenly at the age of 33. As a law student, Justin was a member of the Aboriginal Law Students’ Association (ALSA) and the Co-Editor in Chief of the Indigenous Law Journal (ILJ), among many other things. After his graduation he articled with, and worked as a solicitor for, the City of Toronto. He continued to serve the Indigenous community by volunteering as the Vice-President of the Board of Aboriginal Legal Services.

Following his passing, Justin’s family and friends set up a memorial award at the Faculty of Law that has been endowed. The revenue generated by the fund each year will be awarded to a U of T Law student who writes the best paper on an Indigenous topic. 

Purpose of the Award

Justin was proud of his Métis heritage and dedicated thousands of hours to volunteer work that served Indigenous people in Toronto and beyond. In first year of law school he joined the ILJ and served as its Co-Editor in Chief for two years. The purpose of this award is twofold: to increase awareness of, and scholarship on, Indigenous topics, perspectives and laws among JD and graduate students at U of T Law, and to ensure that Justin’s love for the community is never forgotten.



  • The paper must be original and unpublished
  • The paper must not be longer than 10,000 words (exclusive of footnotes)
  • Footnotes should use the McGill style of citation
  • Papers should be submitted as Microsoft word documents so they can be anonymized before review by the selection panel
  • The paper must be on an Indigenous topic related to law (broadly defined)
  • Students are encouraged to submit a paper they write or have recently written for a class or clinic (including SUYRPs, provided they do not exceed the word limit)


  • The author of the paper must be a full time or part time JD, LLM or SJD student at U of T Law (students who are in joint programs, on exchange, transfer students, etc. are also eligible. Grad students who are hired to assist in the administration of the award are disqualified from entering the contest).
  • Papers must be written by one author only
  • If selected the winner and the ILJ wishes to publish the winning paper (see below), the author must be willing to sign an assignment of license agreement form
  • Each student may submit only one paper per year

Deadlines and Selection of the Winner

  • The 2023-24 deadline for submissions for the award is Friday, April 26, 2024 at 5 pm EST.
  • Submissions for the award should be sent, as a word document, by email attachment to the Indigenous Initiatives Offices via: with the subject line “Justin Basinger Memorial Award Submission”
  • The winning paper will be selected by a panel of up to four people consisting of at least one representative of the ILJ (to be selected by the Co-Editors in Chief) and one professor or adjunct professor from U of T Law (to be invited by the Indigenous Initiatives Office).
  • In a given year, if there are no submissions or no suitable submissions as deemed by the panel, the panel can decline to release the award, in which case the award for the year shall be reinvested in the memorial fund and carried over for future years.

Award and Prize

  • In 2024, the monetary award will be $2700 CAD.
  • The ILJ may choose to publish the winning paper.

Administration, Questions and Concerns

  • The Manager of the Indigenous Initiatives Office will be responsible for the administration related to this award. The rules and guidelines above may change but the award is meant to be given every year.
  • All questions should be directed to Julie Ann Shepard (Manager, IIO) at or 416-978-2583.