Law student receives 2021 Emerging Leader Award
Talented debater, Taylor Antonchuk credits volunteer and work experience for leadership growth opportunities
While preparing to register for her final year of law school, Taylor Antonchuk learned that she was among the 64 University of Manitoba students chosen to receive 2021 Emerging Leader Awards. These annual awards are how UM recognizes outstanding contributions students make to enhance the institution and its community, and given Antonchuk’s path to law school, her track record and contributions she has made to both the UM and community, she is undoubtedly a most deserving emerging leader.
A natural litigator
An admitted chronic debater (“I do my best debating at the dinner table with my boyfriend”), Antonchuk knew she wanted to go into law from a young age. “The idea of being able to help people throughout their hardest times, working on court cases and crafting legal arguments, has fuelled my desire to work in this field and make a difference in my community and the world,” she explained.
Prior to starting her Juris Doctor degree, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg, and then worked for two years as a legal assistant at a mid-sized Winnipeg firm. “I would definitely say that both of these experiences built a strong foundation upon which to start my legal career, and have benefited me in so many ways,” she said.
Because of her love of – and skill in arguing, she knows that litigation is the career path for her. That combined with life experience working in the serving industry, “where employment rights are often a distant and foreign concept,” she said, she plans to focus her practice in employment law, “so that I can be a resource for others in the industry.”
An exemplary leader
Introduced in 2006, the Emerging Leader Awards have recognized students who have demonstrated a commitment to furthering UM’s educational mission by contributing to the social, cultural, or economic well-being of communities on and off campus. Recipients have consistently encouraged cross cultural understanding and exemplified sustained leadership initiative worthy of recognition.
A busy Level 2 Officer volunteering with the 6 Jim Whitecross Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron (RCACS), Antonchuk took some time out to chat about her activities that make her an exemplary leader.
What community activities both in and outside of law school have you been involved in & what cross-cultural and leadership initiatives?
Outside of law school, I volunteer with 6 Jim Whitecross Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron, which is part of the national Royal Canadian Air Cadet program. The cadet program is the largest youth program in the country, and focuses on citizenship and leadership. The program also provides meaningful experiences that you truly can’t find elsewhere. I myself was a cadet from the ages of 12-19, and spent numerous summers away at different camps. I have had the opportunity to participate in both a national marksmanship competition and a provincial biathlon competition. Upon completing the program, I felt like I needed to give back because I personally got so much out of my time with them. This upcoming year will be my 7th year volunteering with 6 RCACS. Through this role I get to work with the level two cadets (aged 13-14), ensuring that all their training requirements are met, recruiting instructors for lessons, and even teaching various lessons every now and again!
During my time at Robson Hall, I have been involved in a variety community activities. In 1L I volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada at the Community Legal Education Association, working with their Law Phone-In/Lawyer Referral Program. In this position, I would speak with clients and then direct them to various legal resources or lawyers across the province based on their needs.
Last year, I took on the role of Student Representative for the Women’s Legal Forum of the Manitoba Bar Association through the Feminist Legal Forum, which has allowed me to plan and host various events that bring both students and practicing female-identifying lawyers together on important topics that impact our community in the legal world. I also was one of the co-coordinators for last year’s biggest networking event, the Law Banquet, and this year I am taking on the role of Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee. As I have spent quite a bit of time working in the legal field, I am excited to use that experience to help students navigate their way through all things professional development-related. This includes not only networking and recruitment events, but also providing students with a variety of panels and workshops to keep them informed about various aspects of practicing law.
Lastly, I am also a member of the Diversity in Law Group and the Bilingual Students’ Association.
What if any courses, professors, or lessons learned so far during your time spent at the Faculty of Law have helped influence the direction of your legal studies and possibly career path?
Last year I took Stacey Soldiers’ Aboriginal Law, Criminal Justice and Family class, and it was by far the most impactful class that I have taken while at Robson Hall. As future legal professionals, I think it is so important to learn and understand the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and actively work towards reconciliation. In light of recent events this year, having this knowledge is even more essential. Stacey did an amazing job teaching the class, bringing in impactful and engaging speakers to have hard conversations with, and overall just providing so many resources that helped me further understand not only the history of Indigenous peoples but also the institutionalized discrimination that they still face today.
Congratulations, Taylor, on receiving the Emerging Leader Award!