Robson Hall professor named CBC Manitoba Future 40 finalist
A Robson Hall professor is one of 40 finalists for CBC Manitoba’s Future 40.
Assistant Professor Shauna Labman – international legal scholar, refugee resettlement expert and advocate for refugee rights – is in the second round of announced finalists. She is nominated in the Teaching and Health Care category.
Robson Hall Associate Dean Debra Parkes nominated Shauna.
“Shauna is a gifted and innovative teacher who mentors students in public interest advocacy,” said Parkes. “She’s a scholar who puts her research to work for the community, collaborating with other scholars and refugee advocates to make Canada’s commitment to refugee resettlement a reality.”
Shauna has been working with Robson Hall since 2013. Prior to her position with the Faculty, she worked for the United Nations in India and at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. She clerked at the Federal Court of Appeal and Nunavut Court of Justice, and pursued her PhD at the University of British Columbia as a Trudeau Scholar.
“One of my goals from the outset has been to identify intersections and opportunities for collaboration between different areas of research,” said Shauna. “One of the real draws of returning to Manitoba was the incredible energy and commitment to refugee protection in the advocacy, settlement and sponsorship communities. Sometimes academics can feel removed from that.”
In addition to regularly publishing research, Shauna is a board member at the Immigrant and Refugee Committee Organization of Manitoba, where she works with staff and volunteers to navigate the turbulent laws and policies surrounding refugees. Shauna regularly engages with the refugee and refugee advocacy communities, speaking at high schools, universities and Canadian Council for Refugees consultations and working with the World University Service of Canada.
“There are huge opportunities for community engagement in Manitoba,” said Shauna. “Being able to connect with these groups constantly reaffirms to me that I’ve returned to a special community – one that’s both caring and engaged.”
As well as connecting with external groups, Shauna makes sure she takes time to connect with her students. For Shauna, educating Manitoba’s future lawyers, decision-makers and policy experts is a vital part of the refugee research, settlement and advocacy processes.
“The greatest part of my job as an educator is that I’m working with tomorrow’s leaders,” said Shauna. “I have my students write opinion pieces – which I encourage them to publish – to remind them of their roles as advocates and of the power they have to use the knowledge they’re gaining, whether they’re helping individual clients or contributing to a bigger conversation about who we are as a community.”
Shauna’s commitment to educating students about advocacy and refugee scholarship goes beyond curriculum. Together with Robson Hall Professors Gerald Heckman and Amar Khoday, Shauna created the Migration Law Research Cluster (MLRC), a specialized group aimed at furthering migration law scholarship and introducing students to people important to refugee research and advocacy. Through the MLRC, Robson Hall hosts guests from many walks of life – community workers, private sponsors, journalists, scholars, and refugees themselves – for conferences and guest lectures. During the 2015-2016 year, MLRC speakers included Iraq War resister Joshua Key, Free Press reporter Carol Sanders and Somali refugee Yahya Samatar.
The semester is drawing to a close, but Shauna’s work with educational, advocacy, and settlement groups will continue at Robson Hall into the 2016-2017 year. As far as being nominated and selected as a Future 40 finalist, Shauna is grateful – but won’t let it distract her from her work in the community.
“I feel privileged to have [Associate Dean] Debra’s support. She’s the kind of academic I want to be. It was an honour to be nominated, and I’m humbled to have made the final 40,” Shauna said. “But for me the more exciting part will be following along with the rest of the finalists and learning about all the Manitobans doing amazing things in this province.”