About B.C. Human Rights Tribunal
Last updated: November 9, 2023
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body created by the B.C. Human Rights Code. The Tribunal is responsible for accepting, screening, mediating, and adjudicating human rights complaints. The Tribunal offers the parties to a complaint the opportunity to try to resolve the complaint through mediation. Respondents have an opportunity to respond to a complaint and to apply to dismiss a complaint without a hearing. If the parties do not resolve a complaint and the complaint is not dismissed, the Tribunal holds a hearing.
The Tribunal is located at Robson and Seymour Streets in downtown Vancouver, on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish people.
The Tribunal is made of members and staff and is headed by a chair: BC Human Rights Tribunal organization chart. It may also contract with other persons, such as mediators. The Tribunal has an administrative staff who are regular employees. You may have contact with the following:
A case manager is a part of the Registry staff. A case manager processes complaints, including setting dates for:
- settlement meetings
- case conferences
- submissions on applications
The case manager communicates with the parties about the complaint.
- First, a case manager may communicate with a complainant when they file a complaint.
- Second, a case manager is your main contact after the respondent files a response.
The chair is a member of the Tribunal. The Lieutenant Governor in Council designates the chair of the Tribunal. The chair manages the Tribunal’s work. The chair assigns complaints to members to make decisions or orders.
A clerk is a member of the Registry staff. A clerk assists case managers to process complaints. A clerk will:
- send notices of a complaint proceeding
- scheduling mediations
- tell parties about the deadlines for disclosure and applications to dismiss.
Customer service representative
A customer service representative is a member of the Registry staff. A customer service representative:
- answers general inquiries
- processes correspondence
- supports other Registry staff
An Indigenous navigator is a member of the Registry staff. A navigator helps to guide and support Indigenous people through the Tribunal process, helping them to address administrative barriers. Like a case manager, a navigator works with both parties to process complaints.
The paralegal is a member of the Tribunal’s legal department. Their main role is to support legal counsel on judicial review of Tribunal decisions.
Legal counsel are lawyers on staff with the Tribunal. Legal counsel:
- give advice to the Tribunal
- represent the Tribunal in court
- act as mediators
Legal counsel do not give legal advice to the parties to a complaint.
A mediator works with the parties to help them try to settle the complaint. A mediator may be a member, lawyer, or other person.
A member makes decisions under the Human Rights Code about complaints. The Lieutenant Governor in Council appoints members for a two to five year term. The Chair can also appoint members for six-month terms.
The registrar manages the Tribunal’s Registry.
A Tribunal registry officer is a member of the Registry staff. A Tribunal registry officer:
- answers phone and email questions
- gives information and forms to the public
- reviews new complaints to see if they are complete
The Tribunal has an adjudicative staff who are appointed members:
Tribunal members are administrative law judges who conduct mediations, decide applications to dismiss a complaint without a hearing, preside on pre-hearing conferences, conduct hearings and render final decisions on the merits of a complaint.
Click on a name below to view a Tribunal Member’s biography.
- Adamson, Steven
- Anika, Ijeamaka
- Beckett, Shannon
- Buday, Kylie
- Chapnick, Jonathan
- Cousineau, Devyn – Vice Chair
- Dean, Robin
- Derynck, Jessica
- Duncan, Andrea
- Etmanski, Theressa
- Foy, Christopher
- Froese, Beverly
- Pighin, Sonya
- Prince, Amber
- Robb, Andrew
- Said-Alam, Laila
- Smith, Kathleen
- Snowshoe, Karen
- Takayanagi, Edward
- Ohler, Emily – Chair
Steven Adamson was appointed as a member of the Tribunal on February 27, 2017. From 2012 to 2022 he was also the Tribunal’s registrar. He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1994. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science from the University of Toronto.
Prior to joining the Human Rights Tribunal as registrar in 2012, Mr. Adamson served as vice chair and deputy registrar with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal, and before that he was an appeal commissioner with the former Appeal Division of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Mr. Adamson started his career as a workers’ compensation specialist for a large corporation.
Ijeamaka Anika (she/her) was appointed as a part-time member of the Tribunal on August 21, 2023. Prior to her appointment, Ijeamaka was a researcher for the University of British Columbia Investigations Office where she conducted trauma-informed research for investigations into allegations of discrimination and sexual misconduct at UBC.
Ijeamaka holds degrees from the University of British Columbia (2019), University College London (2007), and Oxford Brookes University (2006). Before coming to Vancouver, she held a teaching position at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and is also a Barrister and Solicitor in Nigeria.
Her research and advocacy work focus on international criminal law, particularly relating to prevention of gender-based violence in conflict situations; economic, social, and cultural rights; the medical and social impact of child marriages in Nigeria; human trafficking; international human rights; and humanitarian law in a domestic context. As a student, Ijeamaka has interned at the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.
Shannon Beckett holds a Law degree from the University of Calgary (2011) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Victoria (2004). She is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia with extensive experience advising administrative tribunals on matters of law and policy. Ms. Beckett has practiced in the areas of labour and employment law, human rights law, and professional regulatory law, and has served as a Judicial Law Clerk with the BC Supreme Court. She has also worked for an Independent Officer of the Legislature where she investigated the critical injuries and deaths of children and youth receiving government services. Ms. Beckett is Co-President of the BC Council of Administrative Tribunals (BCCAT), and teaches BCCAT courses on Decision Writing, Administrative Procedure and Hearing Skills.
Kylie Buday (she/her) was appointed as a member of the Tribunal on October 17, 2022. She holds degrees from the University of Victoria (B.A.Hons., 2000 and J.D., 2008) and Dalhousie University (M.A., 2006). Ms. Buday has lived experience as a person with disabilities. She was raised as a visitor on Semiahmoo territory and currently resides as a visitor on Lək̓ʷəŋən lands.
Prior to joining the Tribunal, Ms. Buday worked as a trauma-informed investigator, mediator and decision maker on discrimination and harassment complaints. She also assisted in the development and implementation of policy and procedures on discrimination, harassment, and sexualized violence. In addition, Ms. Buday has worked as legal counsel for First Nation governments in B.C., Ontario and the Yukon, and as an investigator for the Office of the Ombudsperson of B.C., where she responded to disclosures of wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Ms. Buday served as a refugee status decision maker and advisor for over three years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Damascus, Syria and Geneva, Switzerland, respectively.
Jonathan Chapnick (he/him) was appointed as a full-time member of the Tribunal on November 1, 2023. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Chapnick operated a small workplace law and investigations practice and was a member of BC’s Employment Standards Tribunal and Patient Care Quality Review Board. He previously worked in-house for unions and employers in BC and Ontario for 15 years, and he is a former adjunct professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law and employment law instructor at Douglas College.
Mr. Chapnick is a chartered human resources professional (CPHR) and is on the roster of investigators established by the Canadian government to investigate occurrences of harassment and violence in federally-regulated workplaces. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Economics) from McGill University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Victoria.
Cousineau, Devyn – Vice Chair
Devyn Cousineau (she/her) was appointed as a full-time member of the Tribunal on November 1, 2017, and was appointed as Vice Chair of Case Management and Assignments in April 2023.
Before her appointment, Ms. Cousineau practiced in the areas of human rights, labour, and anti-poverty law. She has appeared at all levels of court, including at the Supreme Court of Canada as counsel in the leading cases of Moore v. BC (Human Rights Tribunal), 2012 SCC 61 and BC Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62.
Ms. Cousineau holds a law degree from the University of Victoria (2006) and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University (2003). She clerked for the Honourable Jo-Ann Prowse at the BC Court of Appeal and the Honourable Rosalie Abella at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Robin Dean (she/her) became a Tribunal member in 2023. Robin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (2004) from Vermont’s Middlebury College and a Juris Doctor degree (2010) from the University of Washington. She was called to the British Columbia bar in 2014.
Before joining the Tribunal, Robin clerked at the Washington State Court of Appeals, and she practiced municipal law, civil litigation and Aboriginal law. Robin is passionate about creating greater access to justice and dedicated hundreds of hours of her legal career to providing pro bono representation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors at Urban Ink, an arts organization that seeks to uplift Indigenous and diverse voices through storytelling and performance.
Jessica Derynck was appointed as a member of the Tribunal for a four-year term commencing on November 1, 2021. Ms. Derynck holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree from Ryerson University (2002) and a law degree from the University of Victoria (2009). She was called to the bar of British Columbia in 2010. Ms. Derynck was previously appointed as a full-time member of the Tribunal in April 2021 for a six-month term.
Before her appointment to the Tribunal, Ms. Derynck worked as in-house legal counsel at a union for six years. Previously she practiced human rights, labour and employment law at a law firm in Vancouver.
Andrea Duncan (she/her) was appointed to the Tribunal as a part-time member on August 21, 2023, under Section 6 of the Administrative Tribunals Act.
Ms. Duncan holds a law degree from Dalhousie University (1993) and an undergraduate degree in political science from Carleton University. She was called to the British Columbia bar in 1994. Ms. Duncan’s career has been in private practice. She has extensive experience as a litigator and mediator, primarily in family law. Her previous adjudicative experience has been as a member of the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal, Bylaw Adjudication Program, and Property Assessment Review Panel. She maintains a part time practice, increasingly focused on mediation and alternate dispute resolution.
Ms. Theressa Etmanski was appointed as a full-time member of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on November 1, 2023. Ms. Etmanski holds both a Juris Doctor from the University of British Columbia (2012), a Master of Laws from the University of Victoria (2019) and has been a member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 2013. She also holds a Master’s degree in Asian Pacific Policy Studies (Governance and Human Rights) from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor’s degree (Anthropology) from Simon Fraser University.
As a lawyer, Ms. Etmanski worked as a sole practitioner, a contract lawyer with Legal Services Society of British Columbia, a legal advocate with the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association (now Migrant Workers Centre), and an associate lawyer at Elgin, Cannon and Associates. During this time, Ms. Etmanski represented clients before all divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the British Columbia Employment Standards Branch, the Federal Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and the British Columbia Court of Appeal. As many of Ms. Etmanski’s clients were either refugee claimants or migrant workers, she quickly developed a culturally sensitive and trauma informed approach to her work. Ms. Etmanski has also engaged in various international human rights projects in Southeast Asia. Ms. Etmanski’s most recent role as a Human Rights Officer at the Canadian Human Rights Commission involved investigating and assessing human rights complaints against federally regulated employers and service providers.
Christopher J. Foy was appointed to the Tribunal on September 18, 2023 under Section 6 of the Administrative Tribunals Act. Mr. Foy attended Queen’s University and the University of Toronto for his Bachelor of Laws. He received his Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School. His Master’s work focused on workplace law, human rights and alternative dispute resolution. In addition, Mr. Foy holds a Certificate in Adjudication for Administrative Agencies, Boards & Tribunals from Osgoode Hall Law School.
Mr. Foy was called to the bar in British Columbia and Ontario in 2002 and the Yukon in 2010. He has over twenty years of litigation experience in both the private and public sector in all aspects of workplace law before various administrative tribunals and at all levels of Court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Foy maintains a Canada-wide private practice as an Arbitrator and Mediator.
Beverly Froese was appointed as a member of the Tribunal for a four-year term commencing on February 28, 2019. She holds a law degree from the University of Manitoba (2001) and a Master of Law degree from the Louisiana State University (2008).
Before moving to the Okanagan and starting her own practice in 2014, Ms. Froese was a Staff Attorney for over 10 years at the Public Interest Law Centre of Legal Aid Manitoba. Her areas of practice are human rights, constitutional, administrative and poverty law. She has also been involved in several large research projects, most recently relating to the human rights of people living with a mental illness and access to justice for people who cannot afford a lawyer.
Sonya Pighin was appointed as a member of the Tribunal for a four-year term commencing on Jan 11, 2021.
Sonya Pighin is a person with Wet’suwet’en, Italian and French ancestry, as well as a member of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. Sonya currently resides as a visitor on Lək̓ʷəŋən lands, and she prefers the pronouns “she” and “her”. Sonya has long standing interests in the areas of human rights, Indigenous rights, social justice, constitutional and administrative law. She holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria, a Master of Laws (w/specialization in constitutional law) from York University, and a Bachelor of Arts (w/ criminology major) from Malaspina University-College. In addition to serving on the BC Human Rights Tribunal, Sonya is called to the bar in British Columbia and she operates a law practice in the areas of constitutional, administrative, human rights and aboriginal law. She also sits on the board of the BC College of Social Workers as a public lay member.
In addition to Sonya’s legal background, she has held leadership positions at the Office of the BC Ombudsperson and the BC First Nations Justice Council. She has also worked as a child rights advocate at the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth in BC, as a youth justice coordinator in New Zealand’s youth justice system conducting family group conferences, and on a treaty negotiations team with New Zealand’s Office of Treaty Settlements. In addition to this, Sonya has over a decade of experience working in British Columbia’s child and youth serving systems, including in the areas of mental health, youth justice and residential care. In Sonya’s free time, she participates in many outdoor activities and believes in maintaining a balanced lifestyle. She loves mountain biking, back-country hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, scuba diving and spending time with family.
Amber Prince was appointed as a member of the Tribunal for a four-year term commencing on Jan 4, 2021.
Amber Prince is a member of the Sucker Creek (Cree) Nation (Treaty 8) but grew up on the unceded territory of the Dakelh (Carrier) First Nations (Prince George), and now lives on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She has a bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University, a law degree from the University of British Columbia and a master’s in law from the University of Victoria. From 2006-2020 Ms. Prince provided a range of legal advocacy services for women at Atira Women’s Resource Society. She was also an adjunct professor at the Allard School of Law from 2014 to 2020.
Andrew Robb was appointed as a member of the Tribunal on November 1, 2023. He has a law degree from Dalhousie University, a master’s degree in political theory from the University of Western Ontario, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Dalhousie University.
Before joining the Tribunal Andrew was the managing lawyer of the Disability Law Clinic at Disability Alliance BC. The Disability Law Clinic is the first community legal clinic in British Columbia focusing exclusively on disability rights law. Andrew has also worked at community legal clinics in Lethbridge, Alberta and Toronto, Ontario.
Laila Said Alam was appointed as a full-time member of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on November 1, 2023. Ms. Said-Alam is a lawyer who practices defense litigation primarily in the areas of administrative law and humanitarian immigration law. She has worked in coordination with the International Rescue Committee and United Nations to advance the rights and dignity of vulnerable populations. Prior to private practice, she spent a combined 8 years improving government oversight and regulating health care professionals, with the primary aim of bringing transparency to the public. In her work, she brings a deep commitment to procedural fairness, and a commitment to adjudicating with a trauma-informed lens.
Ms. Said Alam holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law, a Master’s degree from the United Nations University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. Ms. Said Alam is an active member of the Law Society of British Columbia, Law Society of Ontario, Maryland State Bar, and U.S. Federal Immigration Bar.
Kathleen Smith was appointed as a full-time member of the Tribunal on October 1, 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (2001) and a Bachelor of Arts degree (1996) from Dalhousie University.
Prior to joining the Tribunal, Ms. Smith served stints as an adjudicator with the Mental Health Review Board in British Columbia and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Refugee Protection Division, in Ontario. Her previous roles include Human Rights Advocate with a non-profit organization, Resolution Manager with the Indian Residential Schools settlement, and Project Manager for an international rule of law initiative in Central Asia.
Karen Snowshoe was appointed as a part-time member of the Tribunal on February 18, 2020.
Ms. Snowshoe provides adjudication and mediation services across Canada. Her main clients have included the Indian Residential School Adjudication Secretariat, the Northwest Territories Human Rights Adjudication Panel, and the Workers’ Compensation Tribunal of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Karen has lived and worked in Canada’s north for 14 years. She is passionate about providing trauma-informed and culturally sensitive investigations. As senior counsel with the National Inquiry into Missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Karen hired, trained, and led a national team of statement gatherers who conducted trauma-informed interviews across Canada, on a confidential basis. In 2018, Karen was elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia, the first Indigenous woman to be elected since 1884. Ms. Snowshoe is a lawyer, arbitrator, mediator and workplace investigator.
Edward Takayanagi holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia (2004) and a Bachelor of Japanese Archaeology degree from Kyoto University (2000). They initially practiced in the areas of civil litigation, administrative law and estates. They served as a Trust Administrator with Coast Mental Health, creating and managing trusts to protect the financial assets of vulnerable peoples. They were an Arbitrator with the Residential Tenancy Branch adjudicating a high volume of disputes on all aspects of tenancies. They have taken leadership roles in a number of community organizations. Most recently as the President of the Board of Directors for Powell Street Festival Society, a Japanese-Canadian arts and culture organization, they have led initiatives to build and empower communities in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver through a lens of decolonization.
Ohler, Emily – Chair
Emily Ohler was appointed as a full-time member of the Tribunal on June 9, 2016. She was appointed as chair effective August 1, 2021 initially for a three-year term, and reappointed in June 2023 for a further five years. She holds degrees from the University of British Columbia (B.A, 1997), Osgoode Hall Law School (J.D, 2000) and the National University of Singapore (LL.M, 2005). She was called to the bar of British Columbia in 2001.
Prior to joining the Tribunal, Ms. Ohler was a litigator in Vancouver before moving to Geneva, Switzerland in 2005 to join the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), a subsidiary of the United Nations Security Council. There, she advised the UNCC Governing Council on policy, legal, procedural and practical matters related to post-conflict claims and sustainable development projects related to the 1991 Gulf War. On returning to Vancouver, Ms. Ohler incorporated Broadleap Solutions Ltd., an international advisory firm focused on implementing the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights, and advising on equity and diversity policy. She also developed and delivered innovative human rights-related educational and mentorship programs. She has served on various Boards and has taught international and common law as Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia.
The Tribunal has a roster of experienced mediators that it contracts with to provide mediation services:
- View the mediators’ Code of Conduct.
Click on a name below to view a Tribunal Mediator’s biography.
- Ashbury, Megan
- Bailer, Laurie
- Barnett, Sheriden
- Beltgens, Jacqueline
- Cleary, Charlene
- Cotie, Joan
- Dlab, Dagmar
- Knapp, Cathy
- Matthews, Laura
- McLaughlin, Shelly
- Pacey, Katrina
- Syer, Ashley
- Tennant, Kellie
- Thomas, David
- Toner, Sheldon
- Ukrainetz, Veronica
Megan Ashbury obtained her law degree at the University of British Columbia (1998). She has broad experience in labour relations, collective bargaining, and workplace dispute resolution in both the public and private sectors, involving an extensive range of labour, employment and human rights matters.
Megan also maintains a private practice as a labour mediator and arbitrator. She brings a unique combination of union and employer-side experiences to foster relationships between diverse parties, and find effective, practical, and durable resolutions for all parties to a dispute.
Laurie Bailer is a Nationally Chartered Mediator, Facilitator, and Conflict Management Specialist since 2006, earning her Chartered Mediator Certification in 2010. Laurie is passionate about mediation and facilitation and enjoys working with people from all walks of life. Laurie Believes in interest-based practices for resolving disputes where all people involved have the opportunity to be heard, develop understanding, and work toward a resolution that works for all. Mediation practices have proven to be one of the quickest, most effective, and “people friendly” ways of resolving conflict.
Through her mediation firm, Peace Builder Mediation Services, Laurie specializes in Workplace, Agricultural, Civil, Neighbourhood/Community, Team, and Succession/Will/Estate mediations. Laurie has extensive facilitation experience and is a co-creator and facilitator of the Encounters With Anger Program as well as Respect In the Workplace and Building Bridges/Tools for Team Building Seminars.
Sheriden Barnett has had the honour of working with indigenous peoples (Anishinabe, Cree, and Inuit) and Canadian Governments for more than 20 years, in order to advance issues that relate to Indigenous rights, including comprehensive claims and historic treaty disputes, the duty to consult, and resource development conflicts. Sheriden acted as the sole Mediator to the Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal from 2005-2019. Her academic interests include comparative colonialism and customary Law (Ireland-Canada), peacebuilding, decolonization and indigenous land and resource rights in post-colonial societies.
Jacqueline Beltgens (she/her) is a lawyer, mediator, adjudicator and workplace investigator. She has a broad background in civil and administrative law. Jacqueline was a member of the BC Human Rights Tribunal, a member and the Acting Chair of the BC Mental Health Review Board, and is presently the Chair of the Surface Rights Board. She has been in-house counsel and in private practice in Vancouver and Victoria, and taught law at the Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. She is presently a member of the Law Society of BC, the Canadian Bar Association, Mediate BC (Civil Roster), and ADRBC (Chartered Mediator). Jacqueline attended the University of British Columbia for undergraduate studies in international relations and obtained a Juris Doctor. Jacqueline also has a Diploma of Technology (Engineering) from the BC Institute of Technology. She completed workplace investigation training at the University of Toronto Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, and mediation training at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation.
Charlene Cleary is a lawyer and mediator in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to serving as a contract mediator with the Tribunal, Charlene operates a law practice with a focus on employment, estate, and business law. She was called to the bar in Manitoba in 2009 and the bar in British Columbia in 2010.
Charlene has a long-standing interest in human rights, focusing on child protection matters in the early part of her practice and later transitioning to human rights issues in the workplace. She takes a holistic and trauma-informed approach to mediation and wholeheartedly believes in mediation as a way of resolving disputes. Charlene is pro bono counsel to local societies in her community, a youth soccer coach and is a volunteer director with an organization that provides mental health and substance use recovery services.
Joan Cotie has worked with families, youth and children in many capacities since 1976. She holds a Diploma in Child Care Work (Child & Youth Care), a Bachelor of Social Work and Master in Social Work degree, has studied Law and Women’s Studies at a Bachelor level, and holds a Certificate in Conflict Resolution. Joan has completed training in Gladue Report writing, and continues to undertake professional development in all areas of her practice. Joan is a Registered Social Worker and holds ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) designations of Chartered Mediator, Chartered Arbitrator, and Chartered Mediator-Arbitrator. Joan worked with youth and their families, and in the criminal justice system for 20 years before turning her focus to Conflict Resolution. Joan practices as a mediator, arbitrator, parenting coordinator and report writer throughout Canada. She believes that even those in high conflict situations have the ability and innate skills to come out the other side to resolution if given the proper guidance and direction and she enjoys working with people to this end. Joan lives with her partner and animal friends in Cobble Hill.
Dagmar Dlab was called to the bar in British Columbia in 1993. She has over 20 years of litigation experience in a wide-range of legal disputes. For over 15 years, Dagmar worked in several of Vancouver’s leading boutique labour and employment law firms, acting for both employers and individuals in labour, employment and human rights matters.
Dagmar completed her Mediation Certification at Harvard University Law School in 2014. Since 2014, she has been working as a neutral, focusing her practice on workplace investigations and mediations. Dagmar has been a contract mediator with the BC Human Rights Tribunal since December 2018. She has extensive experience in handling complex, sensitive, and multi-party disputes. Dagmar is trained in trauma-informed practice. Dagmar is currently practicing exclusively as a mediator.
Cathy Knapp has a background stemming from almost 30 years in the aviation industry with over 15 of these years spent in Human Resources where she was the sole HR professional working in Canada for the world’s largest airline. In this role, Cathy wore many hats and acquired a wealth of experience building a diverse portfolio including Labour Relations, Employee Relations, Conflict Resolution, Investigations, Disability Management, Compensation & Benefits, Performance & Development, Occupational Health & Safety, with both unionized and non-unionized workgroups. A significant portion of her experience was gained from working through the challenging dynamics arising from Chapter 11, restructuring, and mergers.
Cathy launched her own private practice, “Cathy Knapp, ADR Services Inc.” in January 2017, a practice dedicated to neutral work in the areas of workplace mediation & labour arbitration. As a neutral, she assists employers, unions, and employees alike in resolving conflict.
Cathy has successfully completed a mentorship with Gabriel Somjen, QC and Wayne Moore in accordance with the Collective Agreement Arbitration Bureau (CAAB) guidelines and has been placed on the Register of Arbitrators by CAAB.
Cathy has been a contract mediator with the BC Human Rights Tribunal since 2018 and is on the WorkSafe BC Prohibited Action Complaint mediator’s roster. She is also the Job Arbitrator for the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 500 (ILWU).
Laura Matthews has worked throughout BC delivering community legal outreach education with the Legal Services Society to remote and under serviced communities. As a person of indigenous heritage, much of her work has been centered around working to resolve the over-representation of indigenous peoples in child welfare as well as the correctional system. This led her work to include preparing Gladue reports for indigenous accused involved in the criminal court system. She has had extensive personal and professional experience with issues faced by Aboriginal people both on a community and political level.
She has been honored to have had the ability to work closely with many communities introducing mediation as a tool to resolve child protection concerns outside of the court process. She encourages collaborative work to achieve positive outcomes for the people she serves.
Shelly McLaughlin brings extensive experience in conflict resolution and a rich tapestry of over 30 years spanning education, business, and leadership. Her early years in the investment sector honed her acumen before she transitioned into the world of dispute resolution, collaborating with both private and public entities to forge constructive outcomes. Educationally, Shelly began at Western University, securing an HBA and interning at the International Foundation of Employee Benefits. She continued her journey of learning, gaining education and credentials from the Chartered Financial Analyst institute, Certification in Conflict Resolution from the Justice Institute of BC, Arbitration with Royal Roads University, the Med-Arb process with Continuing Legal Eduction of BC and becoming Certified in Advanced Investigation techniques.
Notably, Shelly is recognized as a Chartered Mediator and Chartered Arbitrator by Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada and is a member of the International Association of Workplace Investigators. With deep experience in Mediation, Arbitration, and facilitated dialogues, Shelly excels in workplace disputes and behavioral concerns. Beyond resolving conflicts, she offers workshops, lectures, and collaborates through The Neutral Zone and The Collaborative Law corp.
Katrina Pacey is a mediator and lawyer who lives and works on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, otherwise known as Vancouver, BC. Katrina has been guided by values of justice, equity, and peacebuilding throughout her life, and those values led her to a career in the human rights field.
After many years working as a litigator, Katrina became increasingly drawn to dialogue and conflict resolution. She is grateful to work as a mediator with the BC Human Rights Tribunal where she can use her skills to create space for meaningful dialogue and effective resolution.
Ashley Syer holds Chartered Mediator (C. Med) and Registered Roster Mediator (RRM) designations, and has completed training at Harvard Law on mediating complex disputes. She regularly coaches mediation courses, and provides private mediation services through Gastown Mediation.
In addition to her mediation work, Ashley is a lawyer at Syer Law, where she represents clients in a variety of areas of administrative law and civil litigation matters.
Kellie Tennant is from the Cree Nation, Peguis Manitoba, and has been a visitor in Coast Salish Territory for over 30 years, since 1992. Her education includes a Bachelor of Social Work (UFV) and a Masters of Social Work (UBC). Some of her many areas of practice include clinical counselling, youth work, addictions and mental health counselling, coordinator and faculty in an Indigenous child and youth care program, policy and legislation, adoption openness mediation, and child protection mediation.
Kellie has been a child protection mediator for 10 years, with over 700 mediations completed, to include mentoring new mediators. Her practice is relational and restorative as she supports people with really difficult conversations. Her other passion is Traditional Decision Making with Indigenous families, where she and families work together to have a culturally appropriate mediation process.
She has a busy private practice and also provides mentoring and training for Indigenous agencies in Metro Vancouver focusing on mediation and facilitation, legislation, policy, and practice in child welfare or areas of social justice, as well as small writing projects. Kellie specializes in urban Indigenous social issues and assisting youth and families to walk in both worlds with cultural pride, while navigating colonial systems.
As Indigenous people become more present in these colonial systems there is a higher need for Human Rights mediation. Representation matters, and families having a strong Indigenous mediator that supports the processes with difficult conversations does help the families move forward.
David Thomas served as the Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in Ottawa for 7 years. He has adjudicated and mediated human rights complaints across Canada. Prior to his appointment in 2014, he was a part-time member of the CHRT based in Vancouver, where he practiced law for 25 years.
Called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1989, David started his career with a large Vancouver law firm, leaving as a Junior Partner in 1994 to start his own law firm, specializing in migration and citizenship issues for Canadian employers and people from around the world.
David attended the University of British Columbia and the American College of Switzerland where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in International Political Studies. He completed his law degree in 1988 at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. David has extensive mediation training and received an Executive Certificate in Conflict Management from the University of Windsor Law School and the Stitt Feld Handy Group of Toronto.
Sheldon Toner is a Chartered Mediator (C. Med.) with extensive experience in human rights mediation. He is currently a member of the Northwest Territories Human Rights Adjudication Panel, and has been the chairperson of the Panel since 2016. He has mediated several human rights matters, including matters involving complaints in the areas of employment and provision of services, under numerous grounds including disability, race, family status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
Sheldon also has experience resolving many other types of disputes, including workplace issues which sometimes involve a human rights component. Sheldon is trained in interest-based mediation, and is open to applying restorative or other creative approaches where possible to assist the parties.
Veronica Ukrainetz is the principal and founder of Ukrainetz Workplace Law Group, a boutique employment law firm based out of the Okanagan. She has practised labour, employment and workplace related human rights and privacy law for over 25 years.
Veronica has a BA in English literature, a Minor in Law in the Liberal Arts (U of Calgary) and a LLB (Dalhousie, Nova Scotia). In Veronica’s life before law, she worked as a server, camp cook, freelance writer, restaurant manager, and a few years into her legal practice, stepped away for a couple of years to work as a human resources manager for the western provinces of a national restaurant chain. Veronica grew up in an environment which fostered learning, understanding of differences, embracing diversity, respecting others’ points of view and a deep passion for the outdoors.
In 2019 Veronica expanded her practice to include mediation services. She is a member of the ADR Institute of BC (an affiliate of ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC)), is an appointed mediator with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and is in the process of pursuing her Chartered mediator designation.
About the logo
The central form of the logo is a stylized depiction of the Oceanspray flower (Holodiscus discolor). For many First Nations, Oceanspray is valued for its straight hard stems and is called:
- qálxay’ (digging-stick plant) in the Sḵwxwú7mesh language,
- qáthəłp (fish-spear prong plant) in the Hul’qumi’num’ language of the Quw’utsun, Stz’uminus and Snuneymuxw, and
- pátsʔ-az’ (digging-stick plant) in the Stl’atl’imx language.
The Oceanspray blooming in early summer was a sign for the:
- WSÁNEC’ (Saanich) people that it was time to start reefnet fishing for sockeye, and, for the
- Tl’a’amin, it indicated the time to harvest butter clams.
The gathering of blossoms conveys the ideas of community and harmonious relations.
The Tribunals’ commitment to accessibility, fairness and equality is symbolized by the sturdiness of the stems and its usage.
References: Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2017. Holodiscus discolor (Pursh) Maxim. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Lantz, Trevor and Nancy J. Turner. 2003. Traditional Phenological Knowledge of Aboriginal Peoples in British Columbia. Journal of Ethnobiology 23(2): 263-86, Turner, Nancy J. 1998. Plant Technology of British Columbia First Peoples. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver and Royal BC Museum, Victoria, Turner, Nancy J. 2014. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America. (2-vols.). McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, QC.Turner, Nancy J. and Richard Hebda. 2012. Saanich Ethnobotany: Culturally Important Plants of the WSÁNEC’ People. Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria.
Alice Joe, Graphic Designer