2016 Zenith Award Winners

Marc-André Blanchard is an esteemed lawyer from Québec who in April became Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In this role, Ambassador Blanchard works to advance Canada’s interests, promote international development, security and human rights, and to keep our government informed on multilateral issues. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Blanchard had been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McCarthy Tétrault LLP, one of the country’s most prominent law firms. He also has a long history of political involvement, as the former president of the Québec Liberal Party and, more recently, as a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s transition team. Ambassador Blanchard holds several degrees including a Master's in Public Administration and a Master’s in International Affairs from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He is a Lexpert Rising Stars alumnus, and in 2013 was named one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer.



Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University

In 2016, the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University made history by appointing Angelique EagleWoman as the first Aboriginal dean of law in Canada. EagleWoman told The Globe and Mail she was attracted to the position, in part, by the law school’s mandatory courses in Aboriginal law and she predicted the next generation of lawyers will better understand Canada’s relationship with indigenous peoples and contribute to Aboriginal reconciliation within Canadian society. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University, a juris doctor from the University of North Dakota and an LLM in American Indian and Indigenous law from the University of Tulsa. She has taught in the areas of Native American law, tribal nation economics and law, Native American natural resources law and in civil procedure.

Ian Epstein, Blaney McMurtry LLP

Ian Epstein leads Blaney McMurtry’s work with the Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC), a founding partner in the Investing in our Diversity Scholarship Program. SCCC started its scholarship program in 2001 to recognize and reward young people fighting for equity and against racism by providing scholarships to students from diverse backgrounds who would otherwise not be able to afford university or college. The program includes the Blaney McMurtry Award for Diversity and the William McMurtry Anti-Racism Scholarship. The scholarship rewards Toronto-area students who have shown leadership in diversity and anti-racism initiatives and demonstrated financial need. Ian’s mentor, the late Bill McMurtry, was a co-founder of the scholarship program who got Ian actively involved. Ian now manages annual funding work for the two Blaney McMurtry scholarships, as well as the Advisory Committee of the SCCC.

NSBS Equity & Access Office, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

Equity & Access Office activities fall under priority areas identified through the Society’s strategic framework, equity committees and input from community voices. Activities for 2015-2016 fall under the following priority areas: community engagement; cultural competence; and equity in the profession. TalkJustice (#TalkJustice) is a new online initiative that has become the centrepiece of the Society’s community engagement work. Run in collaboration with the communications office, it provides a platform for members of the public, particularly from equity-seeking and economically disadvantaged communities, to outline the barriers and challenges they face in trying to access the justice system. This project is designed to engage to decision makers who can address these complex challenges. Input from TalkJustice determines the future direction of the Society’s access-tojustice projects.