2019 Zenith Award Winners


Valerie Napoleon, University of Victoria - Faculty of Law

Drs. John Borrows and Val Napoleon were instrumental in the launch of the world’s first law degree to combine the study of Indigenous and non-Indigenous law. Following years of planning and fundraising by Borrows and Napoleon, in September 2018, the University of Victoria (UVic) welcomed the first cohort of students to the joint degree in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders (JID/JD program).“The nominees, Val Napoleon and John Borrows, are the preeminent Indigenous legal scholars that have co-founded the first joint degree program in Canadian Common Law (JD) and Indigenous Legal Orders (JID). It is the first program of its kind in the world. Combining intensive study of Canadian Common Law with intensive engagement with Indigenous laws, the JD/JID will develop the skills needed to practice within Canadian Common Law, with Indigenous legal orders, and at the interface between them.

Breanna Needham, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Breanna Needham recognized the inequities surrounding the existing change/lounge rooms for male and female lawyers and took decisive and meaningful action, starting a change.org petition calling for a universal robing room at Osgoode Hall. The change.org petition was accompanied by an extensive social media campaign. She garnered the assistance of male allies in the profession who took photos and videos of the male’s robing room to demonstrate the significant disparity and tweeted them out to her expanding base of followers. “As a direct result of Needham’s actions, on February 20th, the LSO announced that they are working to create one dedicated gender-neutral space for all barristers to robe and network in what is currently the men’s robing room. All lawyers, regardless of gender, may now share the same benefits of mentoring and relationship-building that are part and parcel of this physical space.”

Peter Nguyen, Resolver, Inc.

Peter Nguyen, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary & Privacy Officer is responsible for providing legal advice on a global basis for everything from mergers and acquisitions, litigation and commercial agreements. Since joining Resolver, he has been tasked with a mandate to build out a global legal function, and responsibility for worldwide legal affairs. With a mandate this vast, and a small legal team behind him, Nguyen found staying on top of the workflow coming in from various parts of the business was becoming a challenge. Under his leadership, Resolver adopted a configurable SaaS-based platform that: centrally, transparently and automatically manages the workflow associated with legal requests and provides the foundational data to support a modern, metrics-driven legal department.