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New student award fundraised in honour of alum Barry You Fay Dong

To date, over $250,000 has been raised by Barry’s family, friends and colleagues, offering a shining example of the power of community commemorative giving.

Left to right: Taylor Dong, Dominique Damian-Wallace, James Blackwood, Jeremy Dong

From a young age, Barry You Fay Dong knew what it meant to work hard. Born in Hong Kong, Barry and his family moved to Port Alice, BC when he was three years old, and he started working odd jobs to help support his family from a very young age.

Barry Dong

Barry Dong

As a youth and after being accepted into UBC, he worked in the local pulp mill, saving enough money each summer so he could afford tuition and rent in Vancouver. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and went on to complete his law degree in 1979. Barry became a leading lawyer in the field of labour, employment and human rights law, areas he felt especially passionate about after having spent the better part of his life in the workforce.

Sadly, Barry passed away in 2021, but his legacy lives on through the Barry Dong Memorial Award in Law. The award is for students with financial need who have demonstrated an interest in labour, employment and/or human rights law—similar to Barry.

The award was adjudicated for the first time in winter 2022 and was presented to two first year law students, James Blackwood and Dominique Damian-Wallace.

“One of the greatest barriers to a legal education continues to be the enormous cost,” says James Blackwood. “Scholarships like the [Barry Dong Memorial Award] can save a student like me hundreds of hours of part time work over the course of a year, which can profoundly change our educational experience for the better.”

While there are various ways to create a student award, the process behind this one was unique. Shortly after Barry’s passing, his sons Jeremy and Taylor were approached by a client and a close family friend who offered to assist in establishing an award in Barry’s memory.

“What touched our family the most was how the labour community came together and built this award from the ground up,” says Jeremy, who is also a graduate of the Peter A. Allard School of Law. “The whole experience has been unexpected but amazing—the outpouring of support has truly surpassed our expectations.”

To date, over $250,000 has been raised by Barry’s family, friends and colleagues, offering a shining example of the power of community commemorative giving, and a clear indication of the impact Barry had on the people around him.

“Our dad built relationships with his clients and many of them became lifelong friends,” says Jeremy. “He was a lawyer on the employer side, so seeing how many union labour partners also donated is indicative of the relationships he built in the labour law community.”

The first $50,000 in gifts was equally matched by two groups—Harris and Company LLP, where Barry worked as a partner for over 15 years, and by the Carpentry Employers Association of BC, which Barry had strong ties to for many years—thereby tripling the impact of gifts which were made. The award has been endowed, meaning students will have this significant source of support for years to come.

“It’s comforting and humbling for my family to see the community come together and do this in memory of our dad,” says Jeremy. “This award could potentially mean the difference between someone being able to practice law or not, and that’s all we really want—to help students for the foreseeable future. Our dad would be so grateful to see this award come to life.”

You can make a difference in the lives of future law students by giving to the Barry You Fay Dong Memorial Award in Law.

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