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PBSC Announces Recipients of the Fourth Annual Chief Justice Richard Wagner Award

Updated: May 25, 2023

Established in 2019, the Chief Justice Richard Wagner Award honours outstanding PBSC volunteers across Canada who embody our core values of dignity, equity, and humility. The 2023 awards, sponsored by our National Law Firm Partner McCarthy Tétrault, were presented to this year’s exemplary recipients at Chapter-led events and celebrations across the country.

The Right Honourable Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada, attended a ceremony at the University of British Columbia where he shared words of heartfelt congratulation and admiration for this year’s recipients and all PBSC volunteers for their commitment to pro bono work and reducing barriers to justice in Canada.

Congratulations to our 2023 Chief Justice Richard Wagner Award recipients!

Matthew Aaron Cumblidge (he/him)

University of Victoria Faculty of Law

ID Access for Unhoused Individuals, Community Social Planning Council

“Volunteering with PBSC has been a highlight of my law school education. In my first year, I was assigned to a project helping unhoused and low-income people obtain government ID. I have been committed to that project for three years. Through PBSC, I have been able to form meaningful connections with the community where I live and make a positive, tangible impact on people’s lives. Volunteering on this project has also helped me develop the client-centered skills that are invaluable for a career in law.”

Anica Villamayor (she/her)

University of British Columbia Faculty of Law

“Throughout my two years volunteering with PBSC and Amici Curiae (AC), I’ve crossed paths with lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, and fellow law students committed to the path of improving access to justice. Serving clients on a wide range of civil, family, and human rights matters has further highlighted the need to dismantle barriers faced by marginalized and disadvantaged individuals. AC and their volunteers go above and beyond to ensure individuals receive the support they need. I’m incredibly grateful to PBSC and AC and I’m looking forward to continuing in this path with other passionate and caring volunteers.”

Rosie Hsueh (she/her)

Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law

Human Rights Violations of International Medical Graduates - Research Support

“My experience volunteering with PBSC was one of the highlights of my time in law school. I was able to develop my skills in research and writing, being mentored by an experienced supervising lawyer and working with a great group of volunteers. Being involved in COPSIPE's ongoing legal action shaped the research carried out, and helped us understand the impact of our work in seeking legal justice.”

Amanda Cha (she/her)

University of Calgary Faculty of Law

“The Hearsay Podcast delivers legal information to members of the public through the University of Calgary radio station, CJSW 90.9 FM. Volunteers lead the creation of every podcast episode, from researching potential topics, conducting interviews with guest speakers, and editing the recording to be aired. Volunteering with the Hearsay Podcast taught me not only the importance of accessible legal education to the public, but also the practical knowledge of transforming inaccessible legal concepts into digestible forms for the public. I am delighted to have been part of a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers, and incredibly grateful to the supervising professor, CJSW, and all the guest speakers who joined us on the podcast and generously shared their insights.”

Jacob Paczko (he/him)

University of Saskatchewan Faculty of Law

“It is my opinion that the ability to practice and study the law is a gift and a privilege. As such, I went into law school looking for ways to maximize that gift while aiming to give back to those around me. The last 3 years on the Anti-Cyberbullying Project has given me that opportunity. Our team was able to enter local classrooms and start important conversations around cyberbullying, its impacts and legal consequences, and discussed proactive approaches to give the students tools to combat it. I’m incredibly grateful to have entered the project from the beginning, and I’m doubly grateful to have been able to benefit from the hard work of my wonderful team of volunteers and from both my supervising lawyer, Arjun Shankar, and our PLEA coordinator Jonas Kiedroski. Starting these conversations and making a tangible difference in my community has left me with some of my best memories of law school.”

Seth Lozinski (they/them)

University of Manitoba Faculty of Law

"Serving the trans community is what brought me to the legal field. I've been honoured to facilitate community-led access to justice with the support of PBSC and our ID Clinic team. The work we do would not be possible without the trust of the trans community in Manitoba. Building that trust has been a truly humbling and rewarding experience which has provided me with a deeper understanding of the justice system."

Crystal Binag (she/her)

Lakehead University Faculty of Law

“My involvement as a PBSC volunteer at the Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic is a highlight of my time at Lakehead University's Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. In my role, I assisted marginalized residents of Thunder Bay, particularly Indigenous Peoples, access identification documents. Without ID, individuals cannot access basic services such as health care - The reality of this is disheartening. I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic for the opportunity to support their work and their efforts to improve access to justice for marginalized individuals in the City of Thunder Bay. I gained a profound understanding of the positive impact that legal professionals, including law students, can have on peoples' lives.”

Georgiana Gardner (she/her)

University of Windsor Faculty of Law

“I started volunteering with PBSC at the Trans ID Clinic during my first year of law school, which was also the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was so glad that I was able to continue volunteering on my new journey in law school, despite being online. I found that I was not only gaining valuable skills as to how to appropriately conduct myself as a law student and a future lawyer, but also that I was helping people along a life-changing and gender affirming journey. Having a name and gender marker which corresponds with an individual’s lived experience is essential interpersonally, but also for oneself. I was asked to become the Co-Project Lead alongside Lindsay Dixon in 2022 and have been able to coordinate the clinics and transition from online to in-person services to fit the needs of our clients. Ultimately, I am so glad for the opportunity to volunteer with PBSC and look forward to providing gender affirming and trans-inclusive services in my future career.”

Justyna Zukowski (she/her)

Western University Faculty of Law

“I have been a volunteer with Project Consent since my first year of law school. In 1L, I loved presenting about the law of consent, sexual assault and sexting to high school students and completing research on the relationship between consent and capacity. Because of this, I became a project supervisor in 2L and 3L. This position has been extremely rewarding as I spent my past two years expanding the reach of the project across classrooms in Southwestern Ontario. Since 1L, we have been able to increase the number of presentations by ~5 times. The project’s work would be impossible without the dedication of the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board. I learned so much about teamwork and collaboration when coordinating presentations with these boards. Watching students learn about the law and gender-based violence is impactful and I hope that it serves as a step towards preventing this type of violence in the future. I am so grateful for my time with Project Consent and I will miss our team dearly as I graduate from law school.”

Brintha Gobikrishna (she/her)

Osgoode Hall Law School

Rights of People Living with Disabilities Legal Research,

"Know Your Rights, hosted by Danielle McLaughlin, is a segment on Access Media Inc’s (AMI’s) television program aimed at informing its viewers of their rights in various areas of the law. Volunteering with AMI has allowed me to learn and expand my knowledge of disability and human rights matters that I would otherwise not have explored. Through viewers’ responses to the project, I further learnt of the importance of public legal education and its imperative role in improving access to justice. This project has motivated me to continue expanding my own knowledge on human rights matters whilst dispersing my insights to the general community in an effort to further dismantle the barriers to accessing justice plaguing our legal system today. I extend my sincerest gratitude to the AMI team and, particularly, Danielle McLaughlin, for the support, learning opportunities and memories this past year.”

Sabina Khak (she/her)

University of Toronto Faculty of Law

“My experience working with PBSC and the Trans ID Clinic has been deeply rewarding and nothing short of incredible. Coming into law school, I wanted to use my skills and learn new ones to help others. PBSC allowed me to do just that. I spent the majority of my law school career assisting the Trans ID Clinic where I gained a greater understanding of the barriers faced by gender-diverse folks. During my three years, PBSC was a constant reminder of why I came to law school in the first place – to help those accessing justice. I have been fortunate enough to work with such a kind and supportive team of staff, lawyers, and volunteers in pursuit of this goal. I will carry my PBSC experience with me for the rest of my career.”

Olivia Kim-Coombe (she/her)

Lincoln Alexander Law School

“Volunteering with PBSC and the 519 Trans ID Clinic has been a chance to do meaningful and enlightening work where clients' unique circumstances intersect with legislation, regulation, and policy. Advancing solutions to real-world practical challenges by applying what we learn in law school to support clients through complex cases not only helps those clients, but can make a difference for all those facing similar challenges. It has helped me better understand and appreciate what can be done with a legal education and has been a highlight of my law school experience. I'm grateful to PBSC, the 519, and McCarthy Tétrault for providing this opportunity to contribute what I can to supporting the clinic's clients. I look forward to carrying on the work of pursuing our clients' goals and advancing access to justice.”

Christina Papageorgakopoulos (she/her)

Queen’s University Faculty of Law

“My work with PBSC has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my law school career. I started with the ID Clinic in 1L and over the years, I have had the opportunity to pick up important skills that will serve me for years to come. More importantly, however, is that PBSC has allowed me to create a connection with my new community in ways I didn’t expect. Martha’s Table, our partner organization, is an incredibly necessary resource in Kingston. Being able to work with such great people who take pride in what they do is what makes the ID Clinic successful. I am incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received from the Queen’s PBSC Chapter, my amazing group of volunteers and supervising lawyer, and to Ronda, Varley, and the rest of the Martha’s Table team. The strength and resiliency of the Kingston community will continue to inspire me long after I graduate.”

Alice Rhéaume (she/her)

University of Ottawa (Civil Law)

Recognizing Quebec Sign Language, Association de l’Ouïe de l’Outaouais

“My experience with the Pro Bono program was extremely rewarding. The project we carried out with the Association de l’Ouie de l’Outaouais (ADOO) gave me an opportunity to learn more about the deaf community in Quebec and Canada, and to realize that there is still a lot of work left to do, even in 2023, to ensure that deaf people have the same rights as hearing people.”

Sarah Melnyk (she/her)

University of Ottawa Common Law

Custody Rights & ODSP Project, Amethyst Women's Addiction Centre

“I am very thankful to have been able to work alongside Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre, where I completed an infographic on ODSP legislation in relation to women suffering from addictions. I was able to work within my interest of health law, within a feminist lens, while ensuring access to justice for those who need it. This project allowed me to apply my passion for disability rights and access to social services, while engaging in meaningful legal work that will have lasting impacts on the community. The impact I have made on Amethyst clients is the most meaningful portion of this project.”

Shania Dalili (she/her)

McGill University Faculty of Law

“Law school can be an overwhelming experience that can sometimes make us lose sight of why many of us pursue a legal career: to uphold justice for all. Fulfilling this objective is not just a job, but rather an ethical responsibility that can be accomplished through Pro Bono work. As a PBSC student, I have had the privilege of engaging in enlightening and eye-opening experiences, allowing me to develop crucial research skills and address various legal issues that affect our society daily. I am immensely grateful to the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations for providing me with an incredible opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.”

Krystelle Métras (she/her)

Université de Montréal

I had an opportunity to get involved with the Clinique juridique de Saint-Michel (CJSM) over the last few months. This legal clinic’s mission is to promote access to justice in the Saint-Michel neighbourhood while denouncing all forms of racism and discrimination. As the person in charge of the organization’s partnerships and legal workshops committee, I had the privilege of working with a great team of volunteers. Together, we developed lasting partnerships with organizations in the neighbourhood and held a variety of legal workshops for them. I am very thankful that PBSC gave me the opportunity to make a difference by giving back to the community. This enriching experience made me aware of the need to take action to ensure systemic access to justice, a basic right that all too often seems inaccessible to various people and communities. It has made me wholeheartedly embrace pro bono culture and want to keep committing to ensuring access to justice and fairness throughout my career. I want to thank Me Fernando Belton for his trust in me, the CJSM project managers for their collaboration and my team members for their impressive dedication: Natalia Boisteanu, Magali Charbonneau, Stephanie Du, Ming Fen Li and Rayane Nahli.”

Éliane Brunelle-Hardy (she/her)

Université du Québec à Montréal

Fondation du Dr Julien: Teaching Children Their Rights

“Immensely grateful: that’s how I feel about my pro bono experience. I had the opportunity to take part in an important social justice mission, that of ensuring that children’s rights are respected. The project mainly involved teaching children in my community about their rights. We also helped the children with a big project for the child soldier cause. During this experience, I learned about the importance of contributing to access to justice. I want to continue to be socially committed. It is with gratitude, joy and inspiration that I will remember this experience, as well as the great team and young people of the La Ruelle D’Hochelaga community social pediatrics centre.”

Clémence Héroux (she/her)

Université de Sherbrooke

“Access to justice and social values have always been important to me. I believe that the PBSC and Juripop organizations perfectly embody these convictions. My experience as a student volunteer for the CSQ-Juripop Moot Court Competition was incredibly rewarding, as it gave me the chance to share my passion for law with motivated young students and to support them in their first contact with the legal system. Legal education is an important tool for promoting access to justice and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to contribute to the education of some of the students taking part in the competition.”

Alexandra Simard (she/her)

Université Laval

“My involvement with Pro Bono Canada (in the Juripop Moot Court Competition) allowed me to share my passion for the law and pass it on to younger people. The high school students I was paired with made great strides during the project, due to the knowledge they acquired, but also because of their maturity and how seriously they took the competition. Seeing the interest on their faces during our workshops gave me a sense of accomplishment. The future belongs to them and I am happy to have helped nurture their motivation. The new generation could help make lack of access to justice a thing of the past.”

Hannah Cameron (she/her)

University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law

“The Stewart McKelvey Wills Project brings an invaluable service to our community. Our volunteers not only provide a will and power of attorney free of cost, but also the peace of mind of knowing your affairs are in order. I have experienced firsthand what a relief this is for those with limited income who are struggling with their health, reaching their later years, or want to avoid any stress for their loved ones in carrying out their wishes. It is a privilege for our UNB law students to provide this service to members of our community who need and deserve a helping hand. None of this would be possible without the dedication and expertise of the staff at Stewart McKelvey Fredericton.”

Trisha Légère-Leblanc (she/her) and Matteya Wendling

University of Moncton

“My experience with the Pro Bono program has been enormously positive and rewarding. Working with the CNIB Foundation gave me insight into a legal field I knew little about. It was very enlightening to learn about the obstacles faced by people with sight loss and to work on removing these. I am very proud to have been able to contribute to my community through PBSC.” —Trisha Légère-Leblanc

“My PBSC volunteer experience played a big role in building my confidence as a future legal practitioner. The supervisors I worked with were almost always available to support me, no matter the situation I encountered. I was able to develop my research skills and my spirit of charity by donating my time to people with sight loss problems. It was incredibly rewarding. By gathering the information needed to help future students living with sight loss, I am now more aware of the challenges they face. The PBSC program has sharpened my sense of justice, as a natural value, as well as strengthened my ability to manage various concrete legal situations.” —Matteya Wendling


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