KEYNOTE SPEAKERS (by presentation order):
Pearl Eliadis – Human Rights Lawyer
Pearl Eliadis is a human rights lawyer in private practice in Montreal. She has successfully led complex, global projects dealing with national human rights institutions, capacity assessment, civil and political rights in China, Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan and Timor Leste, as well as Canada. Pearl has been retained by human rights institutions, NGOs, the United Nations, and the European Commission on a wide range of human rights issues. She is president of the Quebec Bar Association's Human Rights Committee, past president of Equitas, and Co-Chair of the Canadian Centre for International Justice. A graduate of McGill and Oxford, she has received the Canada 125 Commemorative medal, the 2006 Woman of Distinction award, and the 2013 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award for her legal and community work.
She has published several books and articles on human rights and public policy and is adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law at McGill. Her book on Canada's human rights commissions and tribunals, Speaking out on Human Rights: Debating Canada's Human Rights System, has been called a “leading reference” in Canada on human rights law and won the 2015 Huguenot Society of Canada award
Honourable Senator Lillian Dyck
Member of the Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, and a first generation Chinese Canadian, The Honourable Dr. Lillian Eva Quan Dyck is well-known for advocating for equity in the education and employment of women, Chinese Canadians and Aboriginals. She is the first female First Nations senator and first Canadian born Chinese senator.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Master of Science Degrees in Biochemistry in 1968 and 1970, respectively and obtained a Ph.D. in Biological Psychiatry in 1981, all from the University of Saskatchewan. She was conferred a Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa by Cape Breton University in 2007.
She has been recognized in a number of ways, such as: A National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Science & Technology in 1999; A YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Science, Technology & the Environment in 2003; and two eagle feathers in 2005.
Senator Dyck was a Full Professor in the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Associate Dean, College of Graduate Studies & Research at the University of Saskatchewan.
In 2005, she was summoned to the senate by the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin. She is the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. Her priority areas are Aboriginals, Chinese Canadians, Women in Science, Engineering & Technology and Post-secondary education. She continues to speak across Canada on these topics and others, such as the tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C. – Reconciliation Canada
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C. is a Hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation who has dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism at home and abroad. As one of the last few speakers of the Kwakwaka’wakw language, Chief Joseph is an eloquent and inspiring Ceremonial House Speaker. He is currently the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, a member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council and an Honorary Witness to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
He has served as the Executive Director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. As Chairman of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation and the Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IFWP), Chief Joseph has sat with the leaders of South Africa, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia and Washington, DC to learn from and share his understanding of faith, hope, healing and reconciliation.
Honourable David Eby, Attorney General of British Columbia
David Eby was elected as the MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. He is the Attorney General of British Columbia.
The Attorney General served as the Official Opposition spokesperson for Housing, Liquor, Gaming, TransLink, BC Housing and British Columbia Lottery Corporation. He is an award-winning lawyer, noted for his work on constitutional and administrative law issues related to the protection and promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms.
A proud resident of the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, in his professional career David Eby was an adjunct professor of law at the University of British Columbia, president of the HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and served on the Vancouver Foundation's Heath and Social Development Committee. From 2009 to 2013, David ran the B.C. Civil Liberties Association as executive director.
Attorney General Eby has been recognized as one of British Columbia's most effective advocates. His work at Pivot Legal Society to protect the human rights and dignity of homeless and under-housed residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was recognized in 2011 by the UN Association in Canada and the B.C. Human Rights Coalition with their annual award. He is the author of several books and articles on legal rights. His handbook on arrest rights is now in its third printing, with more than 10,000 copies in circulation.
Honourable Senator Kim Pate
Kim Pate was appointed to the Senate of Canada on November 10, 2016. First and foremost, the mother of Michael and Madison, she is also a nationally renowned advocate who has spent the last 35 years working in and around the legal and penal systems of Canada, with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized — particularly imprisoned youth, men and women.
Senator Pate graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1984 with honours in the Clinical Law Programme. She was the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) from January 1992 until her appointment to the Senate in November 2016. She has developed and taught Prison Law, Human Rights and Social Justice and Defending Battered Women on Trial courses at the Faculties of Law at the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University and the University of Saskatchewan. She also occupied the Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 2014 and 2015.
Kim Pate is widely credited as the driving force behind the Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, headed by Justice Louise Arbour. During the Inquiry, she supported women as they aired their experiences and was a critical resource and witness in the Inquiry itself.
Senator Pate is a member of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Canadian Bar Association’s Bertha Wilson Touchstone Award, and five honourary doctorates (Law Society of Upper Canada, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, St. Thomas University and Wilfred Laurier University).
Honourable Senator Marilou McPhedran, C.M.
Marilou McPhedran is a human rights lawyer, professor and activist, appointed as an independent senator in the Parliament of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2016. Marilou was one of the most influential leaders of the 1981 Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution conference- the grass roots social movement of women across Canada resulting in stronger equality rights in the constitution. She co-founded several internationally recognized non-profit Canadian organizations such as the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF); the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC); and the Gerstein Crisis Centre for homeless discharged psychiatric patients. She was the founding Principal of the University of Winnipeg Global College and has facilitated student access to UN sessions for more than 20 years to provide practical skill building by providing rapporteur services to NGO presentations. She is a founding board member of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (Girl Ambassadors for Peace) and has given extensive voluntary support to civil society organizations that focus on peacebuilding and women's rights, including the Afghan Women's Organization, Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and Manitoba Women for Women of South Sudan.
Alison Latimer – Lawyer, Arvay Finlay LLP
Alison M. Latimer was called to the bar in 2009 and is a partner at Arvay Finlay LLP. Ms. Latimer was co-counsel for the plaintiffs at each level of court in the recent challenge to the laws that absolutely prohibited physician assisted dying in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General),  1 SCR 331, 2015 SCC 5. More recently, Ms. Latimer was co-counsel for the plaintiffs in test case litigation challenging the laws and practice of solitary confinement.
Ms. Latimer maintains a general litigation practice with a focus on areas of public law including areas of constitutional, administrative, and environmental law. She has argued cases at all levels of court including in British Columbia, Alberta, the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. Ms. Latimer is a frequent lecturer at law schools and legal conferences including acting as a sessional instructor at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law for a course entitled Charter and Strategic Rights Litigation. Ms. Latimer has published a number of articles on issues concerning public law in journals including the Supreme Court Law Review, the Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice and the Criminal Law Quarterly.
Dr. Ann Travers – Professor, Simon Fraser University
Associate Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University and the author of the newly published book, The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) are Creating a Gender Revolution. I am also the Principal Investigator on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant titled ”Gender Vectors of the GVA: using video game technology to assess social safety nets for transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth.” In addition to research that focuses on transgender and gender nonconforming children and young people in Canada and the United States, I also publish on the relationship between sport, inclusion and social justice. I identify as queer/‘trans non-binary’ and am open to all pronouns but ‘it.’ In my spare time, I engage in partnering, parenting, human-dog leadership, lesbian softball and coaching Little Baseball and Girls Rep softball.
Brenda Picard, Q.C., PEI Human Rights Commission
Brenda Picard Q.C. is a graduate of Dalhousie University where she received her Bachelor of Arts (1982) and Bachelor of Laws (1985) degrees. Brenda has practiced law as an associate in Nova Scotia, as a partner in PEI, and as a legal aid criminal defense lawyer. Since 2013 Brenda has been the Executive Director of the PEI Human Rights Commission.
In addition to her legal work, Brenda was the original Co-ordinator of a new support service for women with abusive partners. She has volunteered with many provincial and national organizations relating to family violence prevention, restorative justice and conflict resolution. She was the inaugural recipient of the PEI Law Society Community Service Award in 2007.
Benjamin Bruce Warnsby, Yukon Human Rights Panel of Adjudicators
Bruce is a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Citizen and a member of the Crow clan. He is the son of Ben and Loretta Warnsby who mined in the Dawson area. Following high school graduation, Bruce attend the University of British Columbia for his Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. He then worked for 3 years in Final Agreement implementation negotiations for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. Bruce also preformed in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic open ceremonies.
Bruce later attended the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. Bruce took part in UVic’s well regarded Environmental Law Centre program where he worked on client files. Bruce was a member of UVic’s Award winning team at the 2013 Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot, and interned with the Maori Land Court and Waitangi Tribunal in New Zealand. Bruce also did the Law Centre Clinical Term during which he did a tiny tiny bit of Human Rights law and fell in love with Criminal Defence practice.
Bruce Articled with Yukon Government and Yukon Legal Services Society and was called to the Yukon Bar in 2016. Bruce worked as a criminal defence lawyer until the middle of last month when he took a chance and Joined Yukon Government as a Senior Negotiator with Energy Mines and Resource Strategic Alliances Branch . Bruce is also a former board member of the Yukon Environment Soci-Economic Assessment Board and a current member of the Yukon Judicial Council and the Yukon Human Rights Panel of Adjudicators. Outside of work Bruce is a serious lover of good food and all thing nerdy.
Colleen Sheppard, McGill University
Colleen Sheppard is a Professor at the Faculty of Law, McGill University, a former director of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Following her studies at the University of Toronto and Harvard Law School, she clerked for Chief Justice Dickson at the Supreme Court of Canada, working on some of the first Charter of Rights cases that reached the Court. She then began her teaching career with a focus on equality rights, constitutional law, systemic discrimination, workplace mental health, comparative law and feminist legal theory. She has published extensively on equality rights and anti-discrimination law, including her book, Inclusive Equality (2010), which examines the systemic and relational dimensions of discrimination. In addition to her teaching and research, Colleen Sheppard has been active in public interest work. She served as a Commissioner on the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission from 1991-1996 and has been a consultant with the federal Department of Justice, the National Judicial Institute, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Métis Aboriginal Association and the International Labour Organization.
Chase Blodgett, All Genders Yukon
Chase Blodgett is a gender and sexuality advocate, educator, speaker and consultant who uses the pronouns he/him. Chase is a prominent Transgender Human Rights activist in the Territory. He sits on the CC-UNESCO Youth Advisory Group and is elected to the P.S.A.C. National Human Rights Committee and chairs the regional PSAC pride committee. He retired this year from co-organizing the Yukon Pride festivities to focus his energy on growing All Gender Yukon, a support group for transgender, two-spirit, non-binary and intersex Yukon residents that he founded and continues to coordinate. Chase is engaged in Federal, Territorial and Municipal consultations that inform Legislation, Acts and Policies.
As an activist, Chase was fundamental in lobbying the Yukon government to amend the Yukon Human Rights Act and Vital Statistics Act. He partnered with the City of Whitehorse to paint the first transgender flag cross-walk in Canada (Lethbridge forgot about the Territories). In June 2016 Chase became the first publicly funded gender confirmation surgery in the Territory and his activism has led to the creation of a gender affirming surgery policy in the Territory. Chase’s story of inclusion was featured on the #Hostwithpride AirBnB campaign receiving over 2.2 million views. Chase holds a vision for a world in which all individuals are free to express their gender fully and without limitation.
Darcy Lindberg, University of Victoria
Darcy Lindberg is Plains Cree and grew up in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. He practiced law in the Yukon Territory from 2013 to 2015 and is currently a PhD student with the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law, where his research is focused on Indigenous legal orders and relationships with the ecological world. Darcy will be joining the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law as an assistant professor in January 2019.
Elizabeth Williams, Canadian Human Rights Commission
Elizabeth Williams is the Chief of Staff to the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Marie Claude Landry. Elizabeth is also the Director of Outreach at the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Since joining the Commission in October 2016, Elizabeth has accompanied the Chief Commissioner as she engages with civil society, government officials and parliamentarians to raise awareness of the Commission’s mandate, to strengthen partnerships, and to engage Canadians in a national conversation on human rights issues.
Elizabeth grew up in Edmonton, Alberta where she was admitted to the bar and practiced law for two years. In 2001, Elizabeth joined the Department of Foreign Affairs as a foreign service officer. While at HQ in Ottawa, Elizabeth headed the International Criminal Tribunals Unit, representing Canada in negotiations to amend the Rome Statute to include the crime of aggression, and supported Canada’s chairing of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Elizabeth’s postings abroad include Jordan, Iraq, Washington DC, Syria and Lebanon. During her posting to Geneva Switzerland, Elizabeth headed the human rights team at the Canadian Mission to the UN in Geneva.
Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelors in Education from la Faculté Saint-Jean at the University of Alberta, and holds a law degree from the Université de Moncton. Much of Elizabeth’s spare time is spend exploring new places and visiting friends all around the world.
Fiona Keith, Canadian Human Rights Commission
Fiona Keith is senior counsel to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Fiona’s practice currently focuses on systemic discrimination, particularly in the areas of harassment, disability, corrections, employment equity and pay equity. She also provides legal support to parliamentary affairs and policy development. Fiona received her LL.B. from the University of Ottawa and is a member of the Law Society of Ontario.
Gert Zagler, Director, Regional Economic and Social Development Canada
Gert Zagler is currently the Director, Workplace Equity at the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada where she leads an operation and policy team responsible for the administration of the Employment Equity Act.
She holds a BA in English from Trent University, a Technical Writer certificate from Algonquin College and a Masters of Business Administration from Queen’s University.
Gert has extensive experience in public administration having worked at municipal, provincial (Ontario) and federal levels of government. In recent years, under her leadership, the Workplace Equity team at the Labour Program successfully launched a redesigned Federal Contractors Program, a new grants and contributions programs (the Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity), and a recognition program for employers.
Gwen Brodsky, Constitutional and Human Rights Lawyer
Gwen Brodsky is a constitutional equality rights litigator, with a practice based in Vancouver. She has extensive experience arguing equality rights cases before tribunals and courts and has acted as counsel in leading cases in the Supreme Court of Canada, including Andrews, Swain, Mossop, Thibaudeau, Gould, Vriend, Meiorin, Gosselin, Keays, and Moore. She has also appeared before commissions and treaty bodies of the United Nations and the Americas. Brodsky has written extensively about equality rights theory, social and economic rights, the Charter, the duty to accommodate, and access to justice problems experienced by members of disadvantaged groups. She has taught in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia and in the Akitsiraq Law Program in Iqaluit. Currently, in addition to her litigation work, she is a Director of the Poverty and Human Rights Centre; an advisor to Canadian non-governmental organizations, human rights commissions, governments, trade unions, employers, and universities, in human rights matters; and Vice President of the Canadian Human Rights Reporter.
Heather Walkus, National Coalition of Service Guide Dog Users
Heather Walkus is a Community Developer, Organizer and Advocate living in Keremeos, British Columbia Canada, and works with the Keremeos Measuring Up Team. The Team is a group of dedicated people with all types of Abilities, who volunteer their time and resources to advocate with individuals, families and organizations in mainly rural areas, throughout the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys of southern British Columbia.
Heather currently is a member the National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada and a member of the BC Coalition of Guide Dog users, started in 2010 before the law was written and who are still fighting the BC Legislation now that it has been passed into law.
She has traveled the world with her first Guide Dog Hank and second Guide Dog Nimitz, who passed recently, continuing her 4 decades of work with several International Teams on Human Rights, including refugees and Health care. In nearly 20 years since gaining her blindness, the only country she has experienced harassment, has been stopped and carded, denied access, physically harmed or discriminated against because she chose a Guide Dog as her mobility aid, is Canada.
Her work includes researching and monitoring environmental issues, currently concentrating on South America as well as working with rural communities in 7 countries on Human Rights Issues regarding woman, their children, dealing with rape, slavery and Health and food safety.
She is a Certified Assessor of Accessible Inclusive Building Design, renovations, designing inclusive Environment and Human Rights Models using Universal Design Principles.
Currently a student at The Centre for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, University of Buffalo, School of Planning and Architecture and plans to study at the University of British Columbia in the Certificate in International Development Program. Chair of Village of Keremeos, Age Friendly Committee. Long Term plan of redesigning the community using Inclusive Universal Access and Design in all areas and for all ages based on Human Rights and Universal Design Principles.
Heather Unger, Manitoba Human Rights Commission
Heather Unger is Legal Counsel to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. In this capacity, she provides legal support to Commission Board and staff, and represents the Commission at human rights adjudications and in court proceedings. She also engages with the public regarding human rights principles and current issues of discrimination and harassment. Previous to her career pursuits in public interest and human rights law, Ms Unger studied and worked in the area of international development. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees from McGill University.
Isha Khan, Director, Manitoba Human Rights Commission
Isha Khan is the Executive Director for The Manitoba Human Rights Commission. In this role, she oversees the Commission’s complaint process and human rights education mandate, regularly presenting to organizations on current and emerging human rights issues. She also acts as senior counsel for the Commission advising on the investigation of complaints and other activities of the Commission, and represents the public’s interest at adjudication hearings, working closely with complainants to prove their complaints of discrimination. She obtained her law degree from the University of Victoria and is called to the British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba bars. She has chaired the Review Tribunal for CPP disability benefits and practiced as a labour and employment lawyer in Calgary. She sits on the Board of Trustees of the United Way of Winnipeg and Chairs their Community Investment Committee.
Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator of Canada
Dr. Ivan Zinger received his degree in Common Law from the University of Ottawa in 1992, and completed his articles of clerkship at the Federal Court of Canada. In 1999, he obtained his Ph.D. at Carleton University (Ottawa) in Psychology of Criminal Conduct. He is an Adjunct Professor with the Law Department at Carleton University.
Dr. Zinger joined the Public Service of Canada in 1996. He held a variety of senior managerial, policy and research positions in public safety-related federal departments and agencies. In 2004, he joined his current employer, the Office of the Correctional Investigator (Federal Prison Ombudsman), and in 2009 he became the Executive Director and General Counsel. As of January 1, 2017, Dr. Zinger was appointed as Correctional Investigator of Canada pursuant to section 161 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and was reappointed for a 5-year term on January 2018.
Over the years, Dr. Zinger has developed expertise in domestic and international human rights law in prison settings. His academic publications are significant and include articles on a variety of subjects, including prison oversight, ethics, dangerous offenders, correctional treatment, the diagnosis of psychopathy, conditional release, penal segregation and the impact of tough on crime measures on corrections.
Dr. Zinger is the recipient of the 2014 APEX Partnership Award for “making communities safer by building strong and effective partnerships across the country and abroad, contributing to the development of more effective correctional practices in Canada.” This prestigious award is one of six presented annually by the Association of Professional Executives in the Public Service of Canada (APEX).
Jeff Ford, Investigations and Standards Office, Yukon Government
Jeff Ford has worked for the Government of Yukon for the last 12 years, nine of which have been as the Director of Public Safety and Investigations with the Department of Justice. Prior to moving to the Yukon in 2006, Jeff served for three years with an international organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina tasked with aiding refugee return, criminal justice reform and human rights protection. In his role with the Yukon Department of Justice, Jeff is responsible for independent correctional oversight along with territorial policing, community safety and crime prevention, and a law enforcement unit. Jeff holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from Royal Roads Military College and a M.A. in History from Royal Military College. Jeff has recently acted in two senior management roles in Health and Social Services as the Assistant Deputy Minister of Social Services and the Director of Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services.
Jennifer England, Women’s Directorate, Yukon Government
Born and raised in Alberta, Jennifer moved to the Yukon with her partner in 2002. Her love of all things northern began as a scientific research assistant in the high arctic. She is passionate about wilderness adventuring with her two children, Yukon’s cross-country ski trails, and the opportunity to collaborate with vibrant organizations and governments to improve equality.
Jennifer is the longest-serving Director of the Women’s Directorate, having been in the role since 2002. Highlights of her role include advancing Gender Inclusive and Diversity Analysis into government decision making, the Whitehorse Affordable Family Housing initiative, engagement and support for the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and LGBTQ2S+ non-discrimination.
Before moving to the Yukon, Jennifer worked as a volunteer and then program coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver, focusing on community development, gender equality, housing, and violence prevention.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from Queen’s University and a Master of Arts Degree from the University of British Columbia. In 2013, she became a Master Integral Coach™, and is dedicated to leadership coaching in the public service and with human rights and environmental leaders from around the world.
Jennifer Metcalfe, West Coast Prison Justice Society
Jennifer Metcalfe is the Executive Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, an organization that provides legal assistance to prisoners in British Columbia regarding liberty and human rights issues. She has worked as a lawyer at Prisoners’ Legal Services since 2006.
Jennifer is the vice-president of the Canadian Prison Law Association and is a member of the Canadian Bar Association Committee on Imprisonment and Release.
Jennifer received her law degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the bar in 2004. She articled at Sierra Legal Defence Fund (now Ecojustice) and then worked at a union side labour firm. She has an undergraduate degree in Native Studies from Trent University.
Jess Stone, Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre
Hailing from the flat, mediocre lands of southern Ontario, Jess has been in love with the Yukon's beauty for years and moved here in 2012. You can often find her on the trails or clay cliffs staring at the mountains and skies with her adorable dog by her side and a camera in hand. She works as the Program Coordinator at Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, coordinating the public education campaigns as a form of resistance, and working behind the scenes on violence prevention programming in Yukon. Jess has a strong passion for inclusive feminism, advocating for equality and reading just about anything. She loves this type of work as it gives her endless reasons to get creative, advocate for better systems, express herself, support her community and have fun. Jess graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Arts with a double specialization in Philosophy & Languages (English, French) and a double minor in Psychology and Sociology.
Kate Meechan, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition
Kate has been working with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition since 2012, most recently doing advocacy and outreach within the community of Whitehorse. She also works on the Outreach Van – a mobile, harm reduction outreach service for street-involved individuals. As Yukon representative on the board of directors with Canada Without Poverty, this is how she grounds herself and her work in human rights. Kate holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of McGill. She lives with her partner and two children on their organic farm, off-grid in a yurt just outside of Whitehorse.
Kasari Govender, West Coast LEAF
Kasari Govender is the Executive Director of West Coast LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund), an organization that uses the law to create an equal and just society for all women and people who experience gender based discrimination in BC. In addition, she represents the organization in interventions in equality rights litigation at all levels of court, appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada on multiple occasions, and was the co-author of the 2012 report entitled “Blueprint for an Inquiry: Lessons from the Failures of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry”. Before joining West Coast LEAF, Kasari practiced constitutional, equality and aboriginal law. She earned her degree in law from the University of Victoria, and her Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. She has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia, sat on the Board of Pivot Legal Society, and co-chaired the Coalition on Public Legal Services. She is currently the founding President of Rise Women’s Legal Centre in Vancouver, BC, and sits on the Board of Governors of the University of Victoria. When she’s not knee deep in constitutional law and the feminist movement, Kasari can usually be found running around after her toddler.
Kymberly Franklin, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission
Kymberly Franklin, was born in Michigan, USA, but has mainly lived in Nova Scotia since 1989. A mother of two, she maintained a successful career while balancing her home life. She is currently senior legal counsel for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She has been with the Commission for 5 years. Ms. Franklin has been practicing Human Rights law for 15 years.
Ms. Franklin graduated from University of Michigan’s business program in 1986, after which time she has worked in both Canada and the United States in both entrepreneurial roles as well as in corporate settings. Upon her return to Canada Ms. Franklin studied Nursing in Halifax and worked in the field for a number of years before attending law school at Dalhousie University. During her years at law school Ms. Franklin worked for the US State Department at the Consulate in Halifax in the consular section.
After graduation from law school, Ms. Franklin opened her own firm in 2005 and had a very successful general practice, including criminal, family, corporate and human rights law. Ms. Franklin closed her practice to pursue human rights law as a specialty and is currently doing so at the Commission.
Ms. Franklin has been a presenter at many conferences and presentations on issues of racism, diversity and most recently racial profiling and transgender issues. Her diverse background, both personally and professionally, has allowed her very unique insights into human rights issues. She hopes to continue her work at the Commission, as senior legal counsel, to assist in advancing human rights and educate Nova Scotians.
Leah Greathead, Lawyer – Constitutional and Administrative Law, British Columbia Office of the Attorney General
To be added.
Linda Moen, Equity Representative, Yukon Federation of Labour
To be added.
Melissa Luhtanen, Alberta Human Rights Commission
Melissa Luhtanen is the Senior Legal Counsel for the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals in Alberta. She was called to the Alberta Bar in 2000 and has many years of experience advising on human rights law. From 2011 to 2017 she was an appointed Member of the Commission on the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal. Ms. Luhtanen has been sought out to consult on areas of human rights policy, assisting many organizations over the years from private companies to government. In addition to the many decisions she has made as a Tribunal Member, she has also written numerous articles on discrimination, harassment, and the legal duty to accommodate and has spoken to many corporations and organizations on these issues.
Paige Hopkins, Shakat Journal, Youth of Today Society
To be added.
Raji Mangat, West Coast Leaf
Raji Mangat is the Director of Litigation at West Coast LEAF, where she serves as counsel and manages the organization’s litigation portfolio. Raji’s recent work at West Coast LEAF has been focused on making access to justice meaningful for women leaving family violence, and on the gendered harms of criminalization and incarceration. Prior to joining West Coast LEAF, Raji was counsel at the BC Civil Liberties Association, where she worked generally on litigation and policy matters concerning sentencing reform, civil forfeiture, and democratic engagement. Raji graduated with a JD from the University of Victoria. She began her law career in New York City practicing civil and commercial litigation. Since leaving private practice, Raji has worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and for Amnesty International. Raji currently serves as a Trustee of the Vancouver Public Library, and as Vice President of Access Pro Bono.
Reema Khawja, Ontario Human Rights Commission & Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal
Reema Khawja specializes in human rights, administrative law and constitutional law. She is Senior Counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and is also legal counsel to the Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal. Previously, she was legal counsel to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She has also worked in the Constitutional Law Branch at the Ministry of the Attorney General and as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Before joining the Ontario Public Service in 1999, Ms Khawja was a litigation lawyer with the law firm of McCarthy Tétrault.
She has a B.Sc. (1991), a B.A. (1993) and an LL.B. (1996) from the University of Toronto.
Rebecca Jones, McGill University
Rebecca Jones recently finished her third year in the Faculty of Law at McGill University where she conducts research on equality rights, constitutional law, and systemic discrimination for Professor Colleen Sheppard. After completing a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Psychology and International Development Studies at McGill, Rebecca worked as the Anglophone Facilitator Lead at the diversity education non-profit ENSEMBLE pour le respect de la diversité. She has developed and facilitated workshops for elementary, high school and university students, as well as faculty and community organization staff, on promoting and sustaining inclusive educational environments. As a law student, Rebecca has worked at the Legal Information Clinic at McGill, the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations, and the Yukon Human Rights Commission. She is currently a summer law student at the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario.
Shelagh Day – Editor, Canadian Human Rights Reporter
Shelagh Day is an expert on human rights, with many years of experience working with governments and non-governmental organizations. She was the Director of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, the first President of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, and a founder of the Court Challenges Program of Canada. Since 1984, she has been the Senior Editor and President of the Canadian Human Rights Reporter. Ms. Day is currently a Director of the Poverty and Human Rights Centre, and the Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action. For two decades she has worked internationally, appearing before United Nations treaty bodies and participating in United Nations consultations on instruments and interpretations of international human rights law. She is the co-author of two books and numerous articles on constitutional equality rights and statutory anti-discrimination law. She is a Member of the Order of Canada.
Susan L. Hardie, PhD - Canadian Centre for Disability Studies
Dr. Hardie is an early adopter as a service dog handler for PTSD, having completed the training of her first dog in 1998. Access has enabled her to return to work in the national realm, first with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and currently as the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies. Dr. Hardie has been active in the cross-disability field for over thirty years in various capacities (i.e. educator, researcher, community organizer, advocate, clinician, service provider) in her community, nationally and internationally. Dr. Hardie is a founding member of the National Coalition of Guide and Service Dog Handlers in Canada.
Yvonne Peters – Former Chair, Manitoba Human Rights Commisions
Yvonne has practiced human rights law in Winnipeg for 30 years. She served on the Manitoba Human Rights Commission Board of Commissioners from 2001 to 2017. From 2014 to 2017 she served as Chair of this Board.
Yvonne is an active participant in the Canadian cross disability rights community and has served as legal counsel on key disability rights test cases. She has also been involved in a number of political and legal initiatives advocating for the rights of women and diversity.
Yvonne has been a guide dog user for the past 40 years. She is a founding member of the National Coalition of Guide and Service Dog Handlers in Canada.
Stephanie Dixon is a nineteen-time Paralympic Games medallist in swimming and member of the Order of Canada. Originally from Brampton, Ontario, she moved across the country to attend University of Victoria in 2003. While attending UVic, Stephanie swam for the Vikes, was named Female Athlete of the year in both 2004 and 2005, and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In addition to holding multiple world records, Stephanie has been a CBC Sports Broadcaster for the Paralympic Games, an Ambassador for the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. She currently lives in Whitehorse where she runs her own motivational coaching business.”
Photo credit: Jourdan Tymkow
Ivan Coyote is the author of eleven books, the creator of four short films, six full-length live shows, and three albums that combine storytelling with music. Ivan is a seasoned stage performer, and over the last two decades has become an audience favourite at storytelling, writer's, film, poetry, and folk music festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam and Australia.
The Globe and Mail newspaper called Coyote "a natural-born storyteller" and the Ottawa Xpress once said that "Coyote is to Canadian literature what kd lang is to country music: a beautifully odd fixture."
Ivan often grapples with the complex and intensely personal issues of gender identity in their work, as well as topics such as family, class, social justice and queer liberation, but always with a generous heart, a quick wit, and the nuanced and finely-honed timing of a gifted raconteur. Ivan's stories remind of us of our own fallible and imperfect humanity while at the same time inspiring us to change the world.
Ivan's 11th book, Tomboy Survival Guide, was released in the fall of 2016 with Arsenal Pulp Press. Tomboy Survival Guide was named an American Library Association Stonewall Honour Book in 2016, shortlisted for the prestigious Hilary Weston Roger's Trust prize for non-fiction in 2017, and longlisted for Canada Reads 2018. Last fall Ivan was given an Honorary Doctorate of Laws at Simon Fraser University for their writing and activism.