Advisory Committee Bios
Irene Hamilton, Chair
Irene Hamilton was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980 and is the former Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Civil Law Division of Manitoba Justice.
Irene has previously served as the Ombudsman for the Province of Manitoba from 2005 to 2012 and also served as Public Trustee for the Province of Manitoba, Office of the Public Trustee from 1991 to 2000.
Her board experience includes Chair of the Deer Lodge Hospital Ethics Committee and member and Chair of the United Way of Winnipeg board of trustees. She was also president of the Law Society of Manitoba. She is currently a member of the Public Utilities Board and a member of the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.
Irene has been a member of the Advisory Committee since September 2015, and has been the Chair since September 2017. Irene was re-appointed a member of the Advisory Committee and Chair for a period of two years effective September 17, 2019.
Gary Robinson graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 1991 with a BA. He graduated from Robson Hall law school at the University of Manitoba in 1996. He articled with Legal Aid Manitoba in Winnipeg and was called to the bar in 1997. Gary has practised mainly criminal law since then.
From 2001 to 2007, Gary was a staff attorney at the Thompson Community Law Centre, then transferred to the Winnipeg office. In 2011, he became the Supervising Attorney of the Criminal Duty Counsel office. In 2020 he became the Northern and Duty Counsel Area Director.
Gary is the President of the Legal Aid Lawyers Association since 2019.
Gary was first appointed a member of the LAM Advisory Committee for a period of two years effective September 17, 2019.
Neil Cohen is Executive Director of Community Unemployed Help Centre, a former lay bencher with the Law Society of Manitoba (2014-2020) and member of the executive (2018-2020). Neil has served on several Law Society committees since his initial appointment to the Discipline Committee in 2010. He previously represented the Law Society on the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family matters, served as co-chair of the Law Society’s Access to Justice Steering Committee and chaired its Access to Justice Stakeholders Committee.
Prior to becoming a lay bencher, Neil served as a part-time Commissioner with the Automobile Injury Compensation Appeal Commission from 2004 to 2014.
Neil’s board experience is extensive (former chair Mediation Services of Winnipeg, SEED Winnipeg, Community Financial Counselling Services, former Chair and Trustee of the Joe Zuken Memorial Association and Trust Fund, Manitoba Federation of Nonprofit Organizations, and a founding member and inaugural chair of the HR Council for the Voluntary Nonprofit sector).
Laurelle Harris has academic training in Women’s Studies from the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Ms. Harris has also undertaken graduate studies in Women’s Studies and Black Studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She 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 in a mid-sized firm in Winnipeg. In 2018, she founded Harris Law Solutions to pursue other professional interests including mediation, arbitration, and consulting on issues of equity and inclusion. Ms. Harris founded Equitable Solutions Consulting in 2020, she offers services which include evaluating organizations’ strengths and weaknesses in the areas of anti-racism, equity and inclusion, and helping organizations to meet their goals to be more equitable and inclusive.
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 also at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. Ms. Harris conducts educational workshops and speaks publicly in the areas of anti-racism, equity and inclusion.
Ms. Harris has served on local and national boards and committees; she has volunteered extensively in the area of community health. 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.
Genevieve Y. Benoit is a proud Métis woman with roots in St. Norbert – in the heart of the Homeland of the Red River Métis.
Genevieve was called to the Manitoba Bar in 2021 and currently works as an associate at MN Trachtenberg Law Corporation. She practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation, Aboriginal law, and Indigenous law.
Genevieve maintains close ties with her Community and has worked closely with the Manitoba Métis Government – the Manitoba Métis Federation – which has led to national and international work related to the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis.
Before beginning her career in law, Genevieve was an advocate within the Indigenous law students’ community holding positions in the Manitoba Indigenous Law Students’ Association and the National Indigenous Law Students’ Association.
In her final year of law school, Genevieve attended Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources, and Governments and did a placement with the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation, focusing on their legal system structure and model.
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 to practice in Manitoba 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 Community Legal Education Association (“CLEA”) in 2021.
Nicole is a proud Metis woman who has joined the MMIWG2S movement for violence prevention against Indigenous women. In 2008, Nicole Belanger obtained her Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Manitoba and worked in the Manitoba child welfare system until 2012. In 2021, she received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Manitoba and is currently employed as a Clinical Social Worker within Shared Health.
From 2018 – 2021, Nicole served as a member of the Neecheewam Inc. board and was appointed the role of Vice-Chair in 2021. Nicole has served as a member of the Manitoba Legal Aid Advisory Committee since 2021