“Racial Equity, Legal Education, and Access to Justice”


Host: The Manitoba Bar Association

When: Thursday, October 26th, 2023, 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm CDT

Where: online

CPD: This program offers 1.5 hour of continuing professional development, all of which may be reported as EPPM (Ethics, Professionalism, Practice Management) hours

Access to justice initiatives require an understanding of and commitment to racial equity to be successful. This virtual panel discussion will explore the ways in which legal education is needed to prepare law students and help lawyers to support access to justice, disrupt barriers to equity which prevent access to justice, and address the challenges to providing relevant legal education which supports these goals.

The Panel

Laurelle Harris

Laurelle Harris has academic training in Women’s Studies from the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba and has undertaken graduate studies in Women’s Studies and Black Studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Harris earned her law degree in 2001 from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba and is an experienced litigator with formal training in mediation, arbitration and conflict resolution undertaken locally and at York University in Toronto, Ontario. 

For most of her career, Ms. Harris practiced law with a mid-sized firm in Winnipeg. Ms. Harris founded Equitable Solutions Consulting in 2020; Equitable Solutions (EQ, for short) offers services which help organizations meet their goals to be more equitable and inclusive, including:

  • Organizational assessments and equity action plan development; 
  • Dedicated organizational support and strategic advice relating to equity, anti-racism, and leadership development;
  • People, culture, and wellness support, including workplace investigations, policy and process development, and equitable recruitment support; 
  • Anti-racism and equity education.

Coming from a family of educators, Ms. Harris finds teaching to be a rewarding way to contribute to effecting change in our communities.  Ms Harris teaches and practices using an anti-racist, intersectional feminist analysis to better understand, dismantle, and counter structural oppressions. She has taught Women’s Studies at the undergraduate level and has also taught at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. In 2022, Ms. Harris was designated a “Jurist of Robson Hall” by the Faculty of Law in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the University of Manitoba’s Juris Doctor program.

Ms Harris has served on local and national boards and committees and has volunteered extensively in the area of community health. In 2019, Ms. Harris was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership by Women’s Health Clinic in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the organization where she had served for many years as a volunteer counsellor and as a director, chairing the Board from 2016 through 2018. 

Within the legal community, Ms Harris also serves as a director with the Manitoba Law Foundation and as a member of the Legal Aid Manitoba Advisory Committee.  She also chairs the Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Issues Section. 

Stacey Soldier

Stacey Soldier is a senior associate in Cochrane Saxberg LLP. She is from the community of Gaabiskigamaag, also known as Swan Lake First Nation. 

Ms. Soldier graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba in 2007 and received her Call to the Bar in 2008. She has extensive litigation experience and has represented people charged with offenses under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Youth Criminal Justice Act as well as in Child Welfare proceedings as counsel for parents, children, and Agencies.

Ms. Soldier is deeply invested in supporting and championing the next generation of lawyers. She has been a practising professional at Robson Hall since 2018, teaching Criminal Justice, Family Law and Indigeneity as well as the Indigenous People and the Criminal Justice System seminar. 

She also worked with students as a Supervisor for Pro Bono Students Canada projects with Ka Ni Kanichihk, Inc. between 2019 to 2021. 

Ms. Soldier was the co-organizer of the Kawaskimhon Moot, held in Winnipeg in March 2020. She has also conducted a wide range of workshops and lectures to Manitoba Prosecution Service, City of Winnipeg, Manitoba Bar Association and the Law Society of Manitoba on a variety of topics including Indigenous issues, retention of women in the law and ethics. 

Stacey is currently the Director of Advocacy and Public Relations for the Manitoba Bar Association and will ascend to the Presidency in 2025. She will be the first Anishinaabe woman to be president in the Bar Association’s history. 

Ms. Soldier’s involvement with the law school goes beyond teaching. She sits on the Truth and Reconciliation Action Team and on the Rights Clinic Advisory Panel. Through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Action Team, a course in Indigenous Legal Traditions will be mandatory starting in the 2023 school year. 

Ms. Soldier was asked to serve on the Rights Clinic Advisory Panel because of her extensive knowledge and experience in the faculty and legal community. 

Besides her work on the Manitoba Bar Association, she also is on the Law Society of Manitoba Access to Justice Steering Committee, the Legal Aid Manitoba Tariff Review Committee and Management Council

Her community involvement has been varied and extensive. She has served as President in many of the organizations she has been involved in including Manitoba Indigenous Law Students Association, Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba, and most recently, Community Legal Education Association (“CLEA”) in 2021. 

Mark Kruse

Marc Kruse, JD, is the Director of Indigenous Legal Learning and Services at Robson Hall. He is also an associate with Rees Dyck Rogala Law Offices, where he practices criminal defence representing youth and adult clients. His research interests focus on the relationship between philosophical ethics, political philosophy, and law, with special focus on the ways educational institutions can ameliorate or exacerbate legal problems. He has published work on the moral foundations of professional ethics, social justice education, and Indigenous educational ethics. Kruse completed his JD at the University of Manitoba and co-teaches Robson Hall’s Indigenous Course Requirement course – Indigenous Methodologies and Perspectives. He is a member of Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan. 

Dr. Amar Khoday

Dr. Amar Khoday joined the faculty at Robson Hall in 2012 as an assistant professor. In 2017, he was promoted to associate professor with tenure.

Dr. Khoday is the author of over 15 published writings, including articles and book chapters. In addition, he has written over 100 blog posts.

Since his arrival at Robson Hall, Dr. Khoday has taught one of the three sections of Criminal Law & Procedure, a mandatory first-year course. During his time at the law school, he has also created two seminar courses which he enjoys teaching immensely: Law and Resistance, and International Criminal Justice. In addition, he teaches the Refugee Law and Immigration & Citizenship Law seminar courses. Dr. Khoday has also delivered guest lectures in other Robson Hall courses such as: Legal Systems; Canadian Legal History; Theory and Practice of Human Rights: Critical Perspectives; and Selected Topics in Human Rights Research and Methods. He has also given guest lectures at the University of Winnipeg.

Dr. Khoday earned his Doctor of Civil Law (2014) and Master of Laws (2008) degrees from McGill University’s Faculty of Law in Montreal and Juris Doctor (2004) from the New England School of Law in Boston. Working under the supervision of Dr. Frédéric Mégret, Dr. Khoday completed his doctoral thesis entitled “Legitimizing Resistance? International Refugee Law and the Protection of Individuals Resisting Oppression.” With respect to his doctoral studies, he was a recipient of both the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Research Fellowship and the O’Brien Fellowship for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. In 2011, he was awarded a Doctoral Teaching Fellowship by the McGill Faculty of Law and taught criminal law during the summer session with Professor Angela Campbell. During his doctoral studies, Dr. Khoday also worked as a human rights researcher at McGill University’s Social Equity and Diversity Education Office. Prior to joining the faculty at Robson Hall in 2012, he completed a term as Executive Director of the McGill International Criminal Justice Clinic.

Prior to obtaining his law degrees, Dr. Khoday maintained a passionate interest in the study of history with a focus on South Asia. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in History and Southern Asian Studies, followed by a Master of Arts degree in History, both at Concordia University.

Zilla Jones

Zilla Jones is an African-Caribbean-Canadian woman living and working on Treaty 1 territory, the home of the Metis Nation, in Winnipeg. Zilla has an Honours degree in Music – Vocal Performance and graduated from Robson Hall Faculty of Law in 2011 where she won numerous academic awards. She articled at the Public Interest Law Centre of Legal Aid and is now a sole practitioner with Jones Law Office where she practices criminal, refugee and child protection law and has appeared at every level of court in Manitoba and the Supreme Court of Canada. She is also currently a sessional instructor in the Faculty of Law.

As an anti-racist educator, Zilla has given presentations to the University of Manitoba, Red River College, Islamic Social Service Agency of Manitoba, Manitoba Teachers’ Society, Commonwealth Bar Association, and others.

Zilla is also a published writer. She has won first place in four national and international competitions, is published in five national magazines, and has secured a literary agent for her first novel.

Zilla is a board member of the John Howard Society of Manitoba and the John Howard Society of Canada.

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