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Law Professor’s Focus Leads to Merit Award

Winning a 2016 Merit award for a combination of Teaching; Service; and Research, Scholarly Work, and Other Creative Activities highlights a disciplined focus in Dr. Shauna Labman's interests in immigration and refugee law

October 10, 2017 — 

Dr. Shauna Labman, winner of a 2016 Merit Award


News of having won a 2016 Merit award for a combination of teaching, service and research, scholarly work and other creative activities came to Dr. Shauna Labman as a complete surprise this October. The Assistant Professor at Robson Hall, Faculty of Law, had submitted the application back in April, 2017 with the encouragement and support of colleague, Associate Professor Brenda Gunn. Gunn had won the award in the year previous and had nominated Labman this year. “I would never have thought to apply had it not been for Brenda’s encouragement,” said Labman, who resolved to do the same for her colleagues. “We all give so much of ourselves to the university community and to students,” she said, expressing an appreciation for importance of fostering a collegial community among fellow faculty members.

“What I love about being at Robson Hall,” she said, “is that it allows me to connect me back to community.” During her time as a faculty member at Robson Hall, Labman has co-founded the Migration Law Research Cluster, and given talks to the larger university community and throughout Manitoba, sat on the Board of Directors of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, and participated in the Winnipeg School Division’s “Human Library” program.

Ever a student as well as a teacher, Labman is taking the Teaching and Learning Certificate program, and helped set up CanU at Robson Hall, the partner-based out-of-school program that aims to introduce children to post-secondary education experiences.

While her activities are diverse and her days take her off in all directions, all of Labman’s activities point in the direction of her research interests in immigration and refugee law. As a teacher, her goal is to engage her students as much as possible to ensure they learn in a concrete, experiential and thoughtful way. Her classes involve an advocacy component and one assignment involves writing an opinion piece that she encourages students to try to publish. Last year her students organized a “research-a-thon” regarding suspension of the Safe Third Country Agreement and organized volunteer placements at Welcome Place to help refugee claimants. Labman saw these activities as a way for the students to “take their passion, knowledge and advocacy out to the community.”

As part of her community service, she was the lead organizer of the recent conference “Building Bridges Between Canada’s Indigenous and Newcomer Groups,” and was on the organizing committee of the Canadian Association for Refugees and Forced Migration Studies’ conference, “Exploring a Path from Armed Conflict, Persecution, and forced Migration to Conflict Resolution, Human Rights and Development” held in Winnipeg in May 2016.

Labman places great importance on helping law students to recognize the power that comes with the knowledge they are gaining at school, and to translate that into doing meaningful activities in their coursework that will give them experience that will remain with them beyond their final exams. While this often means having to mark the numerous assignments she gives her students beyond the standard term paper or final exam that is often the way of most university courses, the extra work is worth it to her, and her classes tend to attract students who crave that level of active engagement.

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