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Human Rights and refugee scholar Shauna Labman appointed to prestigious position at University of Winnipeg

By MYRON LOVE According to Dr. Shauna Labman, the newly-appointed executive director of the University of Winnipeg’s Global College (as of January 1), her appointment to her new position is an “interesting opportunity” which builds on her work over the past nearly 20 years as an advocate for refugees and immigrants locally and beyond. 

The Global College, explains Labman, who has been a faculty member at the University of Winnipeg since 2019, was established in 2004 by then University of Winnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy as the Global College and Dialogue Centre.  The College built its academic offerings focused on human rights. 

Human Rights, where Labman has been teaching, was recognized as a formal academic unit in 2018.  The College has now grown to house a BA in Human Rights, an MA in Development Practice: Indigenous Development, an MA in Development Practice and Indigenous Development, a joint MA (with the University of Manitoba) in Peace and  Conflict Studies and, most recently, a BA in Indigenous Languages.

 “The really beautiful thing about Global College,” the new executive director observes, “is that we offer interdisciplinary programs which provides practical knowledge and the opportunity to work with communities in a local, national and international context.”

Labman, a graduate of Ramah Hebrew School and Balmoral Hall – and eldest daughter of Cyril and Jean Labman – left Winnipeg right after high school for UBC and, later, the University of Victoria.  While studying law at the University of Victoria, Labman was exposed through a Co-operative Law program to the work of the now defunct Law Commission of Canada which dealt with issues such as  Residential Schools cases, same sex marriage, workers’ rights and human rights and discrimination.

After graduation, she began her legal career at the Federal Court of Appeal working on issues ranging from immigration to tax and patent law. “I soon realized,” she said in that earlier interview, “that I wasn’t interested in working in a traditional law practice. I had done some work in Ottawa with refugees.  So I applied to the United Nations and I was posted to India for a six-month consultancy with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).”

 Her life-changing work with UNHCR involved conducting refugee status determinations of Burmese asylum seekers and preparing resettlement referrals for Afghan refugees. Labman was struck by the reality that most refugees never make it to countries such as Canada that are willing to offer permanent protection, and instead remain in protracted states of limbo.

Following a stint at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing where she gained an appreciation of Canadian diplomacy and policy considerations, she returned to Canada with a clear cause and career goal. Using the academic avenues open to her, she began exploring how the voluntary programs of government resettlement and private sponsorship operate alongside Canada’s obligations in international law to refugees who claim asylum. Her research examined, analyzed, and advocated for the protection needs of the refugees she left behind in India, as well as those of other refugees who wait patiently, but powerlessly, around the world.

In her new position, Labman notes, she will have less time for teaching – although for a time, she will also be serving as acting director for the Human Rights program as well as appearing in the classroom as a guest lecturer on occasion.

“As executive director, I will be engaging with students in a different way,” she explains.  “I am, for example, working with the Global College’s Student Advisory Council and participating in some of their programs.

“This is also an interesting time to be stepping into this role,” she adds, “as after two years of teaching largely online due to the pandemic restrictions, we are back to in-person learning and interaction.  For example, my partner and I  attended a bowling party last week that was organized by our student council  in support of a Zambia non-profit where a Human Rights student will be conducting her international practicum this term.

“With online learning, you miss the sense of community, social connections and outreach.”

In a project close to her heart, Labman notes that she is leading an effort to bring an Afghan scholar-at-risk  to be hosted teaching at  Global College.

She also is continuing her own refugee research and advocacy with a focus these days on Canada’s response to Afghan refugees as well as Ukrainian nationals welcomed to Canada on temporary visas. 

In the earlier interview with her four years ago, she expressed concern about the Federal Government’s shift in refugee policy in recent years more to private sponsorships.  It used to be, she says, that government took responsibility for two-thirds of refugee sponsorships with private sponsors the remaining third. Currently, private sponsors account for two-thirds of refugees coming to Canada.

“There is a danger on becoming overly reliant on individual Canadians, she asserts.

She added at that time that her family and several friends in their Wolseley neighbourhood had privately sponsored a family from Colombia.

Labman is the author of  “Crossing Law’s Border: Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program,”, a book she published in 2019 which received the K.D. Srivastava Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Publishing. The book, she notes,  examines the intersection of international rights, responsibility and obligation in the absence of a legal scheme for refugee resettlement.

“Crossing Law’s Borders” grew out of the author’s Ph.D. thesis which she completed in 2013.

“My book,” she reports, “was very well received and has helped raise awareness of who refugees are, why it’s important to protect them and the different ways that  refugees seek protection through resettlement and asylum.” 

Three years ago, she put out a second book – “Strangers to Neighbours: Refugee Sponsorship in Context” – an edited collection that offers the first dedicated study of refugee sponsorship policy.  She notes that one of the chapters was written by Madison Pearlman (who this writer profiled in the December 7, 2016, issue of the JP&N).   

Pearlman’s contribution was a chapter describing Operation Ezra, our Jewish community’s  effort to sponsor  Yazidi refugees and reunite them  with family here.

Both books were consecutively named in The Hill Times’ list of 100 Best Books in 2019 and 2020.

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Winnipeg-born Elliot Lazar to star as Paul Simon in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” at Centennial Concert Hall

By BERNIE BELLAN Elliot Lazar’s career has long been chronicled in the pages of The Jewish Post & News. Do a search for his name in our “Search Archives” button and you will find a multitude of stories about Elliot from the time he was five years old.
A talented singer, musician, and musical arranger, also a graduate of Gray Academy, the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, and the Boston Conservatory, Elliot has appeared many times in Winnipeg, including most recently last summer in Rainbow Stage’s production of “Rent.”
He’s been constantly busy – as a review of some of his past acting credits reveals. Last season alone, in addition to his performing in “Rent,” Elliot also appeared in the National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “The Band’s Visit” (Huntington/Speakeasy Stage).
We’re excited to announce that Elliot will be appearing in Winnipeg for one night only, May 21, starring as Paul Simon in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story.”

Here’s Elliot’s own story about his growing up in Winnipeg:
“I grew up in Garden City, attended Gray Academy (K-12) and majored in vocal performance at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. I lived in Winnipeg until I was 22, so I’m pretty connected with the arts scene there still. The venue we’re playing, the Centennial Concert Hall, I was last seen in Guys and Dolls in concert with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Rainbow Stage (2019), and before that I sang with the Manitoba Opera Chorus in 3 productions there. My last performance in Winnipeg was in Rent with Rainbow Stage this past summer. Other local performing arts companies I have a history with there are Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, Winnipeg Studio Theatre, Dry Cold Productions, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Manitoba Underground Opera, Little Opera Company, and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. I grew up going to see shows at the Concert Hall, so it’s a wonderful full circle moment for me.”

Elliot Lazar (second from left bottom row) as Paul Simon

About “The Simon & Garfunkel Story”:
Nostalgia-inducing unforgettable hits! The internationally-acclaimed hit theater show The Simon & Garfunkel Story ( returns to the road in 2024 with a North American tour to more than 25 cities. Kicking off in Richmond, Kentucky on January 28, 2024, the immersive concert-style tribute show will recreate the magic and authenticity of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel on stage and chronicles the amazing journey shared by the iconic, GRAMMY-award winning folk-rock duo. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry, to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60s, and to their dramatic split in 1970. The Simon & Garfunkel Story culminates with the pair’s famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981 which had more than half a million fans in attendance. Tickets are on sale now.
The show features a set list of nearly 30 songs and uses state-of-the-art video projection, photos and original film footage. A full live band will perform all of the hits including “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Homeward Bound” and many more complete with the unmistakably perfect harmonies that will transport audiences down memory lane.
With more than 100 million album sales since 1965, Simon & Garfunkel’s unforgettable songs and poetic lyrics poignantly captured the times made them one of the most successful folk-rock duos of all time. Over the years, they won 10 GRAMMY Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1977, the Brit Awards honored their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album with Best International Album. In 2003, Simon & Garfunkel were awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year saw their “The Sound of Silence” awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

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Ida and the late Saul Alpern have donated 2 ambulances and a scooter to Magen David Adom in past 4 years

Saul z"l and Ida Alpern

By BERNIE BELLAN Saul Alpern passed away in 2022, but before he died he and his wife Ida had decided to make Magen David Adom a major recipient of their generosity.

As Myron Love noted in an October 2020 article the Alperns had been contributing small amounts to the Canadian Magen David Adom for some time, but it was in that year they decided to donate $160,000 for the purchase of a Mobile Intensive Care Unit for Israel’s Magen David Adom.

As Myron wrote in that 2020 article, an MICUA (which is larger than an ambulance, is staffed by paramedics, and responds only to the most medically serious cases) was donated “to the people of Israel in memory of Saul Alpern’s parents and siblings who perished in the Holocaust.

“It is an expression of my love for my family and my love of Israel,” Saul Alpern said at the time.

In early 2022 the Alperns donated yet another $170,000 for the purchase of a second MICU for Magen David Adom.

The scooter recently donated by Ida Alpern in memory of her late husband and parents/plaque imprinted on the front of the scooter carrier box

Saul Alpern passed away in November 2022, but Ida Alpern has now continued the legacy of giving to Canadian Magen David Adom that she and Saul had begun several years before. Just recently Ida contributed $39,000 toward the purchase of an emergency medical scooter. According to the CMDA website, “the scooter, which is driven by a paramedic, can get through traffic faster than the Standard Ambulance or MICU and provide pre-hospital care. It contains life-saving equipment, including a defibrillator, an oxygen tank, and other essential medical equipment.”

I asked Ida whether she wanted to say anything about the motivation for her and her late husband’s support for CMDA. She wrote, “Having survived the Holocaust, and being a Zionist, Saul felt that supporting Israel was of the utmost importance.”

On May 7, CMDA will be honouring Ida and Saul z”l Alpern at a dinner and show at the Centro Caboto Centre. Another highlight that evening will be the announcement of the purchase of an ambulance for CMDA by another Winnipegger, Ruth Ann Borenstein. That ambulance will be in honour of Ruth’s late parents, Gertrude and Harry Mitchell. The evening will also commemorate the late Yoram East (aka Hamizrachi), who was a well-known figure both in Israel and here in Winnipeg.

For more information about the May 7 event go to or to purchase tickets phone 587-435-5808 or email

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Simkin Centre looking for volunteers

A scene from last year's Simkin Stroll

We received the following email from Heather Blackman, Simkin Centre Director of Volunteers & Resident Experience:

Happy Spring Everyone! Hope you all are well. We have a number of upcoming volunteer opportunities that I wanted to share with you. Please take a look at what we have listed here and let me know if you are available for any of the following. I can be reached at or 204-589-9008.
Save the date! The Simkin Stroll is on June 25th this year and we need tons of volunteers to assist. This is our annual fundraiser and there is something for everyone to help with from walking with Residents in the Stroll to manning booths and tables, event set up and take down and much more. Volunteers will be needed from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on this day. Come and help for the full event or for any period within that timeframe that works for you.
Resident Store – This tuck shop style cart will be up for business shortly. Residents will be assisting to stock and run the store for 2 hours 2- 3 times per week in the afternoons. Volunteer support is needed to assist residents with restocking items and monetary transactions.
Passover Volunteers
Volunteers are needed to assist with plating Seder plates for Residents (date to be determined for plating)
Volunteers are needed to assist Residents to and from Passover Services and Come and Go Teas.
Times volunteers are needed for services/teas:
April 22cnd – First Seder 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 23rd – Passover Service Day 1 – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 23rd – Second Seder – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 24th – Passover Service – Day 2 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th – Passover Service – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th- Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 30th – Passover Service – 9:30 -11:30 a.m.
April 30th – Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Admin/Paperwork Volunteers – Volunteers are needed to assist with filing and other administrative duties. A monthly volunteering job is also available to input information on programming into Recreation activity calendars. Support would be provided for this.
Adult Day Program – A volunteer is needed to assist with the Mondays Adult Day Program Group. A regular ongoing weekly commitment on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Assist with Recreation programming and lunch supervision for our Adult Day Program participants that come in from the community for the day.
Biking Volunteers – Take our residents out for a spin on one of our specialty mobility bicycles. Training is provided and volunteers will be needed throughout the Spring, Summer and early Fall.

With summer coming there is also opportunity to assist with outings and other outdoor programming! Please let me know if you are interested!

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