Shawna is a multi-disciplinary and inter-professional practitioner as a social worker, lawyer and educator. She holds four degrees in the Arts, Social Work and the Law from Dalhousie University, as well as, a Certificate in Community Development from Henson College and a Certificate in The Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration (Dalhousie). She is a trained mediator (UPEI).
As a social worker/educator she has trained, supervised and taught social workers in the BSW and MSW programs in Cross Cultural Perspectives, Law and Social Work Practice (Forensic Social Work) combined, since 2003. She is scheduled to teach Diversity in Social Work Practice in 2017 at the University of Calgary (Edmonton Campus). As a licensed private practice clinical social worker, Shawna has spent the last twelve years working in mental health and addition services with children and youth on the Emergency Mental Health and Additions Service team (EMHAS) at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, NS. She also worked for five years as a EFAP therapist for several national and international counselling services with specialty in depression care, family therapy and children with anxiety.
Shawna holds the prestigious designation of a Queens Counsel in Canada and for over twenty- two years has practiced as a lawyer and taught clinical law in the areas of child protection, human rights, family and youth criminal law representing individuals from marginalized, disenfranchised and low income communities. Shawna successfully argued the case of R. v. L.T.H. at the Supreme Court of Canada which addresses the rights of youth with learning disabilities under the YCJA which is a precedent setting case in Canadian youth justice law today.
Shawna has worked at a national level and a local level in Nova Scotia with many grassroots community organizations, professional organizations, and government to address access to justice and social justice issues faced by the low-income persons, African Canadians, new Canadians, and individuals from marginalized and disenfranchised communities. She continues to share her knowledge in mental health and addictions, cultural competency, public legal education, social work practice and education, and human rights with a focus on access to justice and social justice for all. She has been recognized locally and nationally for her work in law and social work. Among her many accolades Shawna was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Service Award in Social Work by the CASW/ NSASW.
Shawna’s current research interests are in transgenerational trauma and epigenetics specific to criminal and child welfare matters, program development and education in clinical forensic social work practice, corrections reintegration programing and social policy development. Shawna and a social work colleague from Nova Scotia will present a paper entitled: Access to Justice: Promising Practices in the Pursuit of Justice - A Case Study, at the National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW) Conference 2017 in Boston, Mass.