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Team Manitoba for the 2024 Laskin Moot Competition left to right: Jayden Wlasichuk (3L); Zeynep Fattah (2L); Tanys Bjornson (coach); Maia Bacchus (2L); and Kirsten Nynych (2L) [Missing from the photo are researcher, Ashley Slagerman (3L) and coach, Tamara Edkins (Justice Manitoba)].

Team Manitoba left to right: Jayden Wlasichuk (3L); Zeynep Fattah (2L); Tanys Bjornson (coach); Maia Bacchus (2L); and Kirsten Nynych (2L) [Missing from the photo are researcher, Ashley Slagerman (3L) and coach, Tamara Edkins (Justice Manitoba)].

Moot Report 2024: Manitoba Team wins Spirit of the Laskin Award

A rewarding experience participating in a bilingual moot

March 28, 2024 — 

Thirty-six teams participated in this year’s Laskin Moot which was held from February 29 to March 2, 2024 at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law. The Laskin Moot is a highly regarded national bilingual moot in administrative and constitutional law.

The Manitoba Team consisted of Maia Bacchus, Zeynep Fattah, Kirsten Nynych, Jayden Wlasichuk, and researcher Ashley Slagerman. The team was coached by Tanys Bjornson and Tamara Edkins [JD/2019] (Manitoba Department of Justice).

Spirit of the Laskin award

The Manitoba Team was honoured to be awarded the Spirit of the Laskin award, the recipients for which are selected by the other teams and given to the school that best showcases the spirit of the moot – fair competition, commitment to bilingualism, and professional camaraderie. “UM won this award last year, so we were honoured to bring it home again, and to tie with the Moncton team,” Wlasichuk explained. “The Laskin was such a great learning experience, and one of my favourite times of law school!”

“The Laskin Moot was such an incredible experience,” said Wlasichuck. “There were dozens of students from across Canada all together in Calgary to moot about constitutional and administrative issues relating to Artificial Intelligence – thank goodness we only needed to know the law, not the technology!”

Coach Tanys Bjornson commented, “This year’s judges made numerous comments about the excellent quality of the advocacy. The competition was fierce but Manitoba’s team still managed to once again secure the Spirit of the Laskin award. This means that they were voted by their peers to embody the social spirit of the Laskin and displayed fairness and professional camaraderie throughout the competition even when under the stress of competing. It was a pleasure to watch these young women transform into very capable advocates while still maintaining the collegiality for which Manitoba has become known.”

The Spirit of the Laskin means so much to us, and we are proud that the other teams thought of us when they voted. The Laskin was a wonderful opportunity for us to make connections before we go off to practice law – and it’s a great practical experience that we can carry for the rest of our careers!

– Jayden Wlasichuk (3L)

Members of Team Manitoba commented about their rewarding experience in participating in the Laskin Moot.In particular, second-year student, Kirsten Nynych stated:

“The Laskin moot was the most rewarding experience I have had since starting law school. We learned important skills in our oral practices and received very helpful advice from our coaches and guest judges. The competition itself was a unique opportunity to interact with law students across the country and get advice from some of the country’s most esteemed lawyers and judges. I feel so blessed to have been able to participate and represent Robson Hall in this competition.”

Professor Lorna Turnbull, Director of the Access to Justice in French Concentration, and a guest judge for the final practice of Team Manitoba stated:

“It was really thrilling to sit as a ‘judge’ with the Chief Justice of Manitoba Marianne Rivoalen and Judge Denis Guénette of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in the court room of the Manitoba Court of Appeal for the last practice of the Robson Hall team. All the hard work through the months, and the effort of incorporating feedback from previous practice rounds, paid off in an excellent practice by all four members of the team. Whether in French or English, they all did an excellent job of submitting their arguments and responding to questions, even highly technical ones about what to do with AI’s tendency to hallucinate (yes, it’s a thing, look it up)!”

Andrea Doyle, who is an Instructor and the Coordinator of the Access to Justice in French Concentration expressed her appreciation to the coaches as well as the judges, lawyers and professors who supported Team Manitoba. She stated, “I wish to thank the coaches, Tanys Bjornson and Tamara Edkins for their dedication and hard work as well as the support of members of l’Association des juristes d’expression française du Manitoba (AJEFM), including the judges, lawyers and professors who volunteered their time to provide valuable feedback to the team during their practices.”


A unique aspect of the Laskin Moot is that it is a bilingual moot where at least one mooter from each team must prepare their written and oral argument in French. Maia Bacchus, a second-year student in the Access to Justice in French Concentration at the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law fulfilled this important requirement.

The University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law has for the past decade offered students the opportunity to pursue part of their legal education in French. Beginning in the Fall of 2022, the Faculty of Law introduced the Access to Justice in French Concentration thanks to generous support from Justice Canada’s Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Fund.

Maia Bacchus shared how she rose to the challenge of mooting in her second language:

“The Laskin Moot in particular is geared toward those who are bilingual, and while I was a bit nervous, I am so glad I had the opportunity to participate in French. The process of preparing for the Moot and then having the opportunity to argue in front of real judges and established lawyers really improved my spoken as well as written French.”

Having the opportunity to do this in a second language is unique and I would highly encourage anyone who is thinking of it to just go for it. You’ll improve greatly, have something unique to put on your resume, and you will enjoy the experience immensely! J’ai adoré cette opportunité et je vous encourage à en profiter!

– Maia Bacchus (2L)

Bacchus also commented how being bilingual allowed her to communicate with all of the moot teams, whether they were more comfortable speaking in French or in English. She stated, “At the competition itself I enjoyed getting to know my colleagues from other provinces, and was pleasantly surprised to hear how impressed the judges and my fellow competitors were with my spoken French, which allowed me to be able to communicate with some of my colleagues who were not comfortable communicating in English.”

Maia Bacchus noted her experience participating as the bilingual mooter in the Laskin Moot had been rewarding and that she could “…say with certainty that it was one of the best experiences of law school!”

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