In honour of our outstanding student volunteers and the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada, PBSC launched the Chief Justice Richard Wagner Awards in late 2019. The awards recognize one volunteer from each participating law school Chapter who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to PBSC’s mission of providing free legal support to people and communities facing barriers to justice.
In our inaugural year, we named award recipients at 15 of PBSC’s Chapters across Canada. On March 5, 2020, Chief Justice Wagner attended the joint awards ceremony for the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School Chapters, held at the Toronto offices of our National Law Firm Partner, McCarthy Tétrault. Before presenting the awards, the Chief Justice shared moving remarks about taking action for justice on a systemic level by integrating pro bono into the fibre of the profession, recognizing the humanity of every client, and building trust in our justice system. He also encouraged law students to continue pressing for change, "[…] our society can count on passionate law students and lawyers like yourselves who are unwilling to accept the status quo and instead are committed to taking action. Indeed, when it comes to access to justice, it’s simply not enough to open the door – we need to invite people in. We need people of action, who will dedicate their time and energy, and force the legal community out of its comfort zone."
We’d like to give special thanks to McCarthy Tétrault for hosting this wonderful event, and for sponsoring the purchase of PBSC’s awards in 2020.
Our 2020 Recipients
University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Crystal Park, Global Master of Laws Candidate at the University of Toronto, holds an LL.M in International Business Law from the University of Macau and an LL.B from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to passionately serving others through her legal research and clerical work at the Korean Legal Clinic, Crystal volunteers at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) through PBSC. There, Crystal has assisted in developing nuanced positions on constitutional challenges, and helped prepare for the CCLA’s Supreme Court intervention in Attorney General of Quebec, et al. v. 9147-0732 Québec Inc.
Osgoode Hall Law School
Osgoode Hall Law School’s winner, Julia Kennedy, is an exemplary student who possesses a strong interest in the intersection of poverty law and LGBTQ2S advocacy, with a particular interest in housing rights. In addition to serving as an intake worker at West Toronto Community Legal Services, she has served for the past two years on PBSC’s Trans ID Clinic, taking on the additional responsibility of ‘Project Lead.’
University of Windsor Faculty of Law
From the University of Windsor, Tasha Stansbury is a queer, mixed-race woman currently pursuing an LL.M on the subject of climate refugees. A dedicated activist since her teen years, Tasha has continued her advocacy work throughout law school, volunteering at various legal clinics and taking a leading role in founding PBSC Windsor’s Trans ID Clinic in partnership with Windsor-Essex Transgender and Allied Support.
University of Manitoba Faculty of Law
Melanie Benedict is a second-year law student at the University of Manitoba. Volunteering with the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC), she was praised for her creative work on a research project determining the impacts of zoning legislation on the perpetuation of marginalized communities. Post- law school, Melanie intends to practice in the areas of public interest law, Charter litigation, and administrative and regulatory law, where she can contribute to changing systemic issues of discrimination and access to justice.
University of Victoria Faculty of Law
PBSC University of Victoria volunteer Emmett Rogers was instrumental in the launch of uVic’s Trans ID Clinic, in partnership with Island Sexual Health, Trans Care BC, and with supervision from lawyers at Blakes. Described as professional, inclusive, and forward-looking, Emmett actively mentored several 1Ls during his multi-year volunteer work with PBSC, and was crucial to the project’s success.
Western University Faculty of Law
Laura McFalls is a 2L student at Western University Faculty of Law. A proactive leader, she volunteered on PBSC’s Wills & Estates project, assisting supervising lawyers with drafting wills, powers of attorney, and reporting letters for low-income individuals at the University of Western Community Legal Services (CLS).
Queen’s University Faculty of Law
A recent graduate from the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University, Alysha Filipse volunteered with PBSC throughout her time at law school. As ‘Project Lead’ for the Homeless/Marginally Housed ID Clinic in her third year, Alysha was described as incredibly active in handling centralized communications and logistics for the clinic, ensuring everyone was adequately supported in their roles. After law school, Alysha will clerk with the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 2020–2021.
University of Ottawa Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Tiffany Wong has been volunteering with Reach Canada through PBSC’s Ottawa Common Chapter for two years. With Reach, Tiffany trains other volunteers, conducts client intakes, identifies legal issues, and makes referral requests to legal professionals on behalf of persons with disabilities. She is looking forward to continuing the promotion of a pro bono culture in the legal profession.
Lakehead University Faculty of Law
From Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Natalie Stern is a former social worker and current 1L. As PBSC Lakehead’s Communications Executive Committee member, Natalie’s work on social media was instrumental to the Chapter’s success. Combining her interests in social work and law, she hopes to focus her future legal career in family law and child protection matters, with particular interest in improving access to justice for Indigenous and remote northern populations.
University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law
Leah Tucker’s interest in social justice work was expanded upon arriving at the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Law. A former Habitat for Humanity volunteer, her strong interest in property law led to what she describes as a “natural fit” on PBSC’s Wills Project. In the future, Leah plans on prioritizing pro bono and community work in her career.
University of Saskatchewan Faculty of Law
Originally from Vancouver Island, Shane Gallop made his way to law school at the University of Saskatchewan, where he has been a PBSC volunteer for all three years. Passionate about community engagement, specifically in the Saskatoon area, Shane worked his way up from Volunteer Coordinator for uSask’s Wills Project to Project Lead.
Faculté de droit de l'Université Laval
Andréanne Filion, 2L and volunteer at PBSC’s Université Laval Chapter, knew she wanted to pursue a career in law and justice after studying criminology. Putting her undergraduate degree to use, Andréanne volunteered with Violence Info, an organization focused on the intervention and prevention of domestic violence against women and children in the greater Quebec City area.
Faculté de droit de l'Université du Québec à Montréal
PBSC’s l'Université du Québec à Montréal volunteer, Alexia Germain, has experience working with migrant populations in Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Namibia and Spain. Through PBSC, she volunteered with En Vero, an organization whose mission is to promote and protect the human rights of those vulnerable to injustice, poverty and social exclusion through the defence of real cases of innocent people unjustly incarcerated.
University of Ottawa Faculty of Law - Civil Law Section
Guillaume Rioux, a 1L and PBSC volunteer at University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Chapter, has a particular interest in political science and international development. As a volunteer with Entraide familiale de l'Outaouais (EFO), an organization working to meet basic needs of low-income individuals in the Ottawa area, Guillaume conducted extensive research on labour law.
Faculté de droit de l'Université de Montréal
Extremely passionate about access to justice, Audrey-Anne Foisy could not imagine her career in law not focusing on justice with a capital ‘J’. Acting as Université de Montréal’s Communications lead on the Chapter’s Executive Committee, Audrey-Anne was integral in strengthening faculty and partner relationships through her work. Nominees say U de M’s Chapter would “not have had the success they had [last year] without her.”
Congratulations to all of our inaugural winners! We are humbled and excited to see how you will continue to take action for justice in the years to come.
We would also like to thank and congratulate all of PBSC’s 2019-20 volunteers. With your support, PBSC served over 13,000 people facing barriers to justice, partnered with 466 organizations, and delivered 584 projects involving research, PLE, court assistance, and legal clinics.