Shea Peplinskie knows first-hand what it’s like to need an advocate. Even before she became a lawyer, she often had to be one – even for herself.

Growing up in a strict religious community in Ontario, she was often fascinated by how people would conform to or get around rules, or even bend the rules to work within a certain lifestyle. In her own situation, she ended up having to stand up for herself.

“I wasn’t allowed to attend post-secondary school,” says Peplinskie, who was called to the Manitoba Bar in 2022. “I had to make a decision quite early in my life that I was going to kind of move away from the faith that my parents had so I could pursue what I wanted to do.”

That first experience of advocacy has never been lost on her.

“Advocacy is something that just doesn’t get old for me,” she says. “I think everyone needs an advocate. You have moments where you need someone in your corner who’s hearing you, seeing you, understanding you, and advocating for you. That’s kind of how I decided to become a lawyer.”

Working in Portage la Prairie for Patersons LLP, Peplinskie specializes in family law. She also performs civil litigation and the occasional bit of general practice, such as real estate transactions. But it’s family law that is her particular passion.

“I think the system we have in Manitoba can be pretty complicated, so it’s nice to be able to help people find their way through it,” she explains. “I really love family law.”

She also loves life in Portage, and Manitoba generally, and presently volunteers with Big Brothers & Big Sisters, as well as the Family Resource Centre.

After graduating from Robson Hall, where she won the D.A. Thompson, Q.C. Prize for excellence in Aboriginal Law Criminal Justice & Family, she enthusiastically decided to stay in Manitoba, which, she points out, has “so many hidden gems.”

“I could go on and on about all the fun things to do in Manitoba, and how much I enjoy it,” she says.

For her own part, Peplinskie is intentional about creating a welcoming, pressure-free environment in her practice. She refers to herself as an “informative lawyer” whose primary role is to explain, inform, advise and help guide decisions, though never forcing them on the client.

“I’m not someone who wants to sit here and tell you, ‘You know, this is what you should do,’ or ‘This is what you shouldn’t do,’ or ‘If you don’t do this, things will turn out terribly,’” she explains. “Let me inform you as to what the process is, to give you all the information. Then you can make an informed decision, and I’ll have your back either way.”

It all comes back to advocacy.

“I think the joy of being in a smaller community is you get to be open to help in whatever way you can,” says Peplinskie. “I really love advocacy work.”

Portage and area residents who require an advocate, who have questions or who need assistance in legal transactions can reach Peplinskie and Patersons by calling (204) 727-2424. Additional information is also available on their website.

“Just ask to set up an appointment,” Peplinskie says. “We’dbe more than happy to help you out.”