Dhaman Kissoon celebrates 30 auspicious years in legal profession
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Dhanam Kissoon in his legal attire
Dhanam Kissoon in his legal attire

By Frederick Halley
THIS month marks 30 years since Dhaman Kissoon was called to the Ontario Bar and the auspicious occasion is being marked by the publication of a Commemorative Magazine, styled Kissoon30 – Celebrating Dhaman Kissoon’s 30 Years Law Practice.
Published by TMac Enterprises on behalf of Kissoon & Associates, the classy magazine, which is scheduled to be released to the public shortly, traces the life of Kissoon from his boyhood days in Beehive, Guyana, a message from the publisher Tony McWatt, his rise to the prestigious position of Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University Faculty of Law, his Call to The Ontario Bar, his passion as a cricket and sports enthusiast, community involvement, awards and recognitions and acknowledgements.

Among those extending congratulations to Kissoon are Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Toronto Police Service, Queen’s University Faculty of Law, where he still teaches, Dr. Aubrey Zidenberg B.A., L.LD Chevalier de France, the Rotary Club of Brampton and outgoing Consul General to Toronto, Anyin Choo.

According to the magazine, Kissoon’s legal journey began by articling at a medium-size firm from 1990 to 1991, which provided him with the opportunity to regularly visit many courthouses throughout Southern Ontario, appearing on behalf of clients who were charged with Retail Business Act violations.
The experience gained afforded Kissoon some courtroom training and after being called to the Bar, he rejoined the firm as an associate lawyer. However, in 2000 Dhaman established his own law firm, Kissoon & Associates, covering all aspects of the legal field. Two of his partners have since joined the Crown Attorneys office while one was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

Dhaman has developed expertise in Criminal and Immigration laws and has made regular appearances at the Ontario Court of Justice, representing clients on various criminal charges. He has also made appearances at the Superior Court of Justice, the Federal Court, and Immigration Tribunals. This has not prevented him from developing a passion for educating the next generation of lawyers.

Upon graduating from Queen’s Law in May 1989, Kissoon was asked by the Dean of the Faculty of Law to return to the law school in the capacity of an Adjunct Professor, joining his colleagues Ian Smith, now a leading appellate lawyer.

“Racism and Canadian Legal Culture” was one of the first courses offered by Kissoon in a Canadian law school and is still being taught currently. It examines racism throughout Canadian legal history and according to Kissoon, the course in particular focuses on racism in all aspects of criminal law. Dhaman has since become an experienced voice on race-related issues in the Canadian legal context.

As a long-serving adjunct professor with over 30 years of teaching experience, Dhaman has played a significant role in educating and developing a more diverse, tolerant and knowledgeable legal profession, particularly as it relates to issues of race.

Dhaman has been the recipient of multiple awards including the Teaching Excellence awards in 2002, 2009, and in 2015, The Law Students Teaching Excellence award. In 2018 he was presented with the Stanley Corbett Teaching Excellence award, which has a special place on his mantle. Corbett was a student of the course in the early 1990s and later became an Associate Dean at the law school before he passed away.

Apart from teaching, Dhaman still finds time to devote to the Black Law Students Association of Queens’ Law where he acted as a coach for the law school’s Julius Alexander Issacs Moot Team – a mooting event attended by law schools around the country litigating diversity issues. He has also sat on various panels of the law school and law schools across Ontario discussing issues of race and diversity in the legal profession.

Dhaman’s long list of community involvement, which began in 1990, includes service with the Toronto Police, the Micro Skills Board, the Pickering Devi Temple, Sick Kids Hospital, Advocates for Etobicoke Youth and the Brampton City Rotary Club, among others, He was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Brampton Flower City, whose primary purpose is to assist in humanitarian causes locally and internationally. Dhaman served as president of the club on two occasions and has been recognised for his outstanding efforts with the Paul Harris and the Paul Harris 1 awards.

Dhaman also co-founded Advocates for Etobicoke Youth (AFEY) which has been supported by the Police Service and many local businesses. This organisation assists and mentors more than 1,000 underprivileged children from the North Etobicoke area of Toronto on an annual basis and has also been instrumental in providing a forum for the young people and law enforcement officials to have dialogues on matters of mutual interest. Judges, lawyers and other prominent business people are among those who have attended AFEY’s Forums to provide guidance and mentorship to youth attendees.

Kissoon’s involvement with the Kissoon Charity Golf Tournament has raised about half a million dollars for various charitable causes. Among the organisations benefiting over the years are the Toronto Sick Kids hospital; the Devi Hindu temple in Pickering; Guyana Help the Kids Foundation; the Three Rivers foundation among others.

Dhaman was born in the small village of Nootenuzil, also known as Beehive, East Coast Demerara on September 30, 1956, and was the second of five children to Sugrim and Latchmin Kissoon.

After attending Ann’s Grove Primary School, Dhaman was later enrolled at the Golden Grove Secondary School which he credits for his interest in law. His talent as a cricketer also gained him selection to the school’s team for the nation-wide Under-19 championships which saw Golden Grove reaching the final before eventually losing to the Georgetown based Tutorial High School.

After successfully completing his GCE O’ Levels, Dhaman migrated to Canada in 1975 and was determined to follow the path of his uncle Jailall Kissoon, who had studied law in London, England.

There are now more than 20 lawyers in the Kissoon family worldwide, one of whom Dhaman’s uncle Nandram is now a retired Court of Appeal Judge in Guyana. The most recent example of the Kissoon family’s legal practice pursuits is actually Dhaman’s own son Navan, who was called to the Ontario Bar in June 2020.

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