The University of Winnipeg’s Global College is continuing to equip the next generation of international leaders in the dynamic fields of human rights, development practice, and peace and conflict studies.
“Students come to us with curiosity and passion and we give them the tools to turn their education into action,” said Dr. Shauna Labman, Executive Director of Global College.
The environment and the community helped me see human rights studies in real life, rather than just learn it through theories.
Established in 2005, Global College fosters global citizenship through interdisciplinary teaching, research, dialogue, and action in local and global communities. In addition to offering high-quality instruction and international research opportunities, Global College creates a platform for student engagement by developing partnerships between UWinnipeg and community organizations, such as refugee non-profits and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
“The magic of interdisciplinary degrees is they can prepare you for so many future options,” Dr. Labman said. “They open so many doors: law school, grad school, work with government, with non-profits, local engagement, international advocacy—you name it, our alumni are doing it. I love following the diversity of their trajectories into their future studies and careers.”
From Syria to Winnipeg
Magi Hadad graduated from Global College with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights in June. Her journey from Syria to Winnipeg shaped her choice of major and career. Displaced by war, Hadad arrived in Canada in 2016. She decided to study Human Rights at Global College in 2018, after finishing high school in Winnipeg.
Hadad wanted to study something that would provide her with the knowledge and tools to build peace and advocate for human rights. As a woman of colour and refugee, she brings an intersectional lens to human rights issues.
“At Global College, the environment and the community helped me see human rights studies in real life, rather than just learn it through theories,” Hadad said.
Hadad has forged deep connections to Winnipeg’s Syrian community. It began with volunteer roles at youth camps and community programs. Later, at Global College, her practicum placements at Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and the City of Winnipeg broadened the interpersonal networks she used to launch her career.
Last year, Hadad worked as a program assistant for the City of Winnipeg’s Newcomer Welcome and Inclusion Policy, which presents a vision for how the City can better support the settlement and integration of newcomers.
Last fall, Hadad worked at Immigration and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba as a program assistant in research and evaluation, leading group sessions with youth. She also co-chaired the Newcomer Ethnocultural Youth Council of Winnipeg.
Hadad plans to pursue a master’s degree and PhD in education or journalism.
Working in 30 countries
Vancouver-based Katrina Leclerc graduated from Global College in 2016 with a BA in Human Rights, then completed the Joint Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies in 2020. She is now a PhD candidate at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.
“I’ve always been very interested in human rights, civic engagement, and just generally understanding how people treat one another,” Leclerc said.
In 2014, Leclerc began volunteering with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) in New York City, a coalition of over 100 women’s and youth-led organizations that works with the United Nations, governments, and local organizations from around the world to advance human rights, gender equality, peace, and security.
She is now GNWP’s Program Director, overseeing a team of staff and travelling to 30 countries where GNWP operates. Global College helped prepare Leclerc for the demanding role.
“It gave me the opportunity to better understand the dynamics that exist in the human rights world, outside of my close circles,” she said.
An award-winning peacebuilder and published author, Leclerc has worked both within and alongside government. Her resume includes the Senate of Canada (as an advisor to Sen. Marilou McPhedran, former Principal of Global College), the Embassy of Canada to Côte d’Ivoire, UN Women, and several advocacy-oriented non-profits.
Leclerc, who is bilingual, became interested in human rights at a young age. Her mother managed the provincial school district’s newcomer and refugee program.
“We had a lot of newcomers who came from Francophone countries in Africa, and so many of my friends were refugees themselves,” Leclerc recalled. “That sparked an interest in me. I really wanted to look at the human angle of things.”
A Global College field course brought her to the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.
“That experience was very valuable to me,” Leclerc said.
Her academic development was also assisted by attentive professors.
“They genuinely care about the students that are there, and want to work directly with them,” Leclerc said.
After completing her PhD, Leclerc plans to return to the academy to teach.
From northern Manitoba to Peru
Brittany Lavallee graduated from Global College in 2019 with a BA in Human Rights. She is a sponsored student of her First Nation, Pine Creek First Nation in northern Manitoba.
Lavallee’s interest in Global College was solidified by her time in Ecuador, Laos, and Mozambique with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad, an organization that provides community-based volunteer work and eco-tourism opportunities.
Even before I graduated, they wanted to hire me.
“That’s when I really knew that I wanted to change from criminal justice to human rights,” she said.
Lavallee is currently in Peru completing a two-month practicum as part of her master’s degree in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management at the School for International Training (SIT). She is building a grant database for the institution.
“I’m collecting different international funding sources so they can integrate Indigenous students from Peru into their undergrad programs,” Lavallee explained. “SIT is currently having conversations about decolonizing education and they’re wanting to have more representation from local Indigenous students.”
Lavallee said her Global College practicum helped her transition into the workforce. She opted for a domestic practicum at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ First Nations Family Advocate Office in Winnipeg, where she worked as a Research Writer.
“Experiential learning is really important,” Lavallee said. “Even before I graduated, they wanted to hire me.”
Lavallee also completed a peace and conflict studies field course through Global College that took her to Israel and Palestine.
Her time at Global College also left her with valuable relationships.
“When I think about all the people I met at Global College, a lot of them are doing really amazing work,” Lavallee said.
She will spend the remainder of this year writing her thesis on community resilience and building capacity for risk reduction in Pine Creek First Nation. Her goal is to develop an educational exchange program that will take Indigenous high school students from northern Manitoba to Indigenous communities in Peru and Ecuador to engage in cross-cultural learning about Indigenous life around the world.
“I want them to see other Indigenous communities in a global context,” Lavallee said.