Bonsitu Kitaba’s favorite word encapsulates what she strives to achieve for the people she represents: “Billisumma.” It is from the Oromo language of East Africa and means “freedom from oppression.” Bonsitu’s commitment to defend the rights of others is rooted in her admiration for her mother and father, who emigrated to Canada from Guyana and East Africa, respectively.
“They are both so connected to their communities and dedicated to helping others,” Bonsitu says. “They are completely selfless and everything I hope to be.”
Her passion for social justice and her determination to make “the biggest impact for the most number of people” is what drew her to the ACLU in 2016. She is extremely proud of the organization’s ability to take on some the most challenging cases.
“Hamama is a prime example,” says Bonsitu. “We knew it would take a tremendous team and countless hours of work, but we dove head first because we knew hundreds of lives were at stake.”
The ACLU filed Hamma, et al. v. Adducci in June 2017 to stop the federal government from deporting hundreds of Iraqi nationals, who were arrested and put in detention centers around the nation. Many, who are Christian and have been in the country for decades, would likely face torture or possibly death if sent back to Iraq.
When Bonsitu is not fighting for her clients, she does yoga, and spends time with time with family and friends. She also belongs to a women’s book club made up of her closest friends from law school. She says they provide her with a “jolt of female empowerment every month.”