Sunil Gurmukh, LLB'08

Sunil Gurmukh

Recipient of the 2021 Young Alumni Award

Sunil Gurmukh is a passionate and respected leader in the struggle to eliminate systemic discrimination of marginalized groups, including Indigenous peoples, Black people, older workers and refugees.

In 2019, only 10 years after he was called to the Ontario bar, Gurmukh was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

Through his work, first with the African Canadian Legal Clinic and now with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Gurmukh advocates for the voiceless and disenfranchised.

Since joining the commission in 2011, Gurmukh has worked on many significant human rights cases. For example, he successfully argued that a provision of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which permitted employers to cut benefits of workers 65 and older, amounted to age discrimination and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Following a human rights complaint by an Indigenous parent, Gurmukh helped negotiate a settlement that resulted in the removal of Indigenous-themed mascots and names for non-Indigenous sports organizations in Mississauga. His work on another case helped result in people with disabilities receiving referrals to additional home care resources to prevent them from being institutionalized.

It was listening to the experience of people who have lived through racial profiling, such as a Black youth telling him about being tasered twice while handcuffed, that made Gurmukh passionate about addressing the issue.

He played a vital role in the OHRC’s inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black people by the Toronto Police Service, including by contributing significantly to the inquiry’s first interim report.

As an adjunct research professor at Western Law, Gurmukh is leading the Hidden Racial Profiling Project. The initiative seeks to uncover racial profiling in cases involving major municipal police services in Canada. He has also taught an intensive course on racial profiling at Western Law (the class is being offered again this Spring) and guest lectured at other Ontario universities.

Together with his father, he established the Gurmukh Family Bursary in Law at Western to address systemic racism and the under-representation of Black and Indigenous people in law school and the legal profession.

Gurmukh has already accomplished so much. From setting precedents that have advanced human rights law to exposing injustices in Canada’s legal system and mentoring the next generation of lawyers, he inspires others to create meaningful change in their workplaces, schools and communities.  His work is far from over.