Crossing borders and advocating for rights

U of W prof launches book about refugees

On Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m., Crossing Law’s Border, a book by University of Winnipeg (U of W) professor Dr. Shauna Labman, will launch at McNally Robinson Booksellers’ Grant Park location.

Labman’s new work “explores how rights, responsibilities and obligations intersect in the absence of a legal scheme for refugee resettlement from the Indochinese crisis of the 1970s to the Syrian crisis of the 2010s,” according to the U of W website.

Labman, an associate professor at the university’s Global College, says her work “looks at Canada’s refugee resettlement programs and how they work to offer refugee protection.”

“The interesting thing about resettlement is that a country like Canada decides to voluntarily resettle refugees, because we are far away from refugee flows,” she says.

“There remains so much confusion and misunderstanding about refugees and the different ways they seek protection,” Labman says, adding that she “finished writing the book during the Syrian resettlement and still, during the celebration of this effort, the debate on border crossings from the U.S. loomed.”

“I spend a lot of my time myth-busting and educating, and through this work, I meet so many amazing refugees and passionate refugee advocates who fuel my work,” she says.

Labman has, among many things, taught law at the University of Manitoba and worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Law Commission of Canada. She joined the U of W’s Global College in 2019.

“I was drawn by the Global College’s focus on community engagement and the ability to spend all my time teaching and talking about refugees and human rights,” Labman says.

The Global College, a constituent college of the U of W, “fosters global citizenship and engagement in human rights through interdisciplinary teaching, research, dialogue and action in local and global communities,” according to their website. It also offers programs like a bachelor of arts in human rights and a master’s program in peace and conflict studies, which fall in line with Labman’s work.

“I love the students, because they are so curious and open to learning and bring such a wealth of perspectives from their own backgrounds and experiences,” she says.

“At a time when the number of refugees and internally displaced people exceed over 70 million worldwide, Dr. Shauna Labman’s book is a timely and comprehensive examination of Canada’s resettlement program and the relationship between refugees and the law,” Dr. Jan Stewart, executive director of Global College, says in an email to The Uniter.

“Dr. Labman’s work offers timely and achievable recommendations and frameworks that are sure to draw international interest.”

Labman, though born in Winnipeg, has lived across Canada, in India and in China. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Victoria and a Master of Laws (LLM) and PhD from the University of British Columbia.

“I think this is important for students to know, because I loved my time away and went on all sorts of adventures, but ultimately, I am so happy to be back in this city,” she says.

Published in Volume 74, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 16, 2020)

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