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

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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 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 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.

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


Alison LatimerLawyer, 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), [2015] 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 TraversProfessor, 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.

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.

Brenda Picard, Q.C., PEI Human Rights Commission

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Fiona Keith, Canadian Human Rights Commission

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Gert Zagler, Director, Regional Economic and Social Development Canada

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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

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Isha Khan, Director, Manitoba Human Rights Commission

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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

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Jennifer Metcalfe, West Coast Prison Justice Society

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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

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Raji Mangat

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.

Rebecca Jones

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 Hardy – 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

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.”


Ivan Coyote

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.