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New Commissioners Appointed to Human Rights Commission
November 3, 2015
Four new Commissioners have been appointed to the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador. Dr. Smita Joshi, Kimberley MacKay, Ray McIsaac and Christopher Sheppard were each appointed for five-year terms in September.
“I congratulate each of the new appointees and I also thank the Commissioners who most recently finished their terms with the Human Rights Commission. The new Commissioners have a broad range of experiences that they bring to their roles and I am confident that they will contribute significantly to advancing human rights issues in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
– The Honourable Darin King, Minister of Justice and Public Safety
The Human Rights Commission was established in 1971 and is mandated to protect individuals from discrimination and harassment and to promote equality of opportunity. Commissioners typically meet four or five times per year and are primarily responsible for effectively and efficiently reviewing human rights complaints related to discrimination and/or harassment.
A brief biography of each of the new Commissioners can be found in the backgrounder below.
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Director of Communications
Department of Justice and Public Safety
Biographies of New Commissioners for the Human Rights Commission
Dr. Smita Joshi, a Newfoundlander by choice, is a graduate of, Memorial University of Newfoundland and holds a Doctoral of Education from the University of Toronto. Dr. Joshi has worked for the Provincial Government for more than 32 years in various leadership positions with the Department of Education and the provincial Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism as the Director of Multiculturalism. Nationally, and provincially, Dr. Joshi is known for her contributions to social studies, human rights education enterprise education and multicultural education in the K-12 school system. In 1994, Dr. Joshi chaired the provincial education committee that developed the policy on multicultural education to guide and shape provincial school curriculum. Dr. Joshi has served on several provincial and national committees including the Conference Board of Canada’s Leaders table on Immigration. She was the co-chair of the Federal-Provincial- Territorial network of Officials Responsible for Multicultural Issues and the chair for the Multicultural Committee for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is the author of several publications and a frequent conference speaker.
Kimberley MacKay is a civil litigation lawyer who was called to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 2000, and the Ontario Bar in 2002. Ms. Mackay is a sole practitioner in the law firm Mackay Law and is currently acting as general counsel for an insurance provider, as well as maintaining a practice in the areas of personal injury, privacy law, wills and estates, family law and employment law. She has previously represented both individual claimants, and the Commission, in providing legal counsel on human rights issues. Ms. MacKay has appeared before all levels of court in Newfoundland and Labrador and was recently appointed as a disciplinary panel board member for the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has been an active volunteer having given her time to the Canadian Bar Association as provincial section chair for wills and estates, and also worked with the Newfoundland Historic Trust.
Ray McIsaac is Past-President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living and was a board member of the Canadian Association for Community Living for almost ten years. Through this work, much collaboration was achieved in the promotion of systemic change towards inclusive education, supportive living and housing, values and ethics and employment. Mr. McIsaac has an extensive background in working on issues in a cross disability forum, and was the representative of 26 national organizations of persons with disabilities on the Canadian Labor Force Development Board in the 1990’s. This work involved closely working with the caucuses of the business, labor, women, aboriginal people and visible minorities. More recently, he has been involved in building capacity towards succession planning, through the awareness building and public education on issues such as wills and estate planning, Registered Disability Savings Program and Trusts. Mr. McIsaac has been extensively involved since 1992 in promoting legal reform to create enabling legislation for the recognition of legal capacity and mechanisms to enable supported decision making. He served as Chair of a Steering Committee aimed at Securing Full Citizenship and Legal Capacity for All. In a somewhat connected process, Mr. McIsaac was also the community representative in the process leading to the creation and implementation of the Adult Protection Act. He is the founding manager of the Bay St. George Community Employment Corporation; a national and international innovation with respect to the successful employment of persons with significant intellectual disabilities.
Chris Sheppard is a beneficiary of the Nunatsiavut Government and was born and raised in the northern Inuit community of Postville. In 2004 he moved to St. John’s and while attending Memorial University became heavily involved in urban Aboriginal program delivery which eventually evolved into a long-standing interest in community service with the first instance being his election to the Executive of the National Association of Friendship Centres. During this time he represented Canadian urban Aboriginal young people at several international events including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues in New York and the UN Habitat World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he worked with other young people on content for recommendations to the assembly which included a request the Youth Development Fund be accessible to young urban Aboriginal people in Canada. More recently Mr. Sheppard was invited to sit on the Executive Council of the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network Atlantic based at the University of New Brunswick. In 2014 he was re-elected to the Executive of the National Association of Friendship Centres as Vice President and he is currently the Chair of the National Research and Communications Committee which oversees communications and research priorities of the National Association of Friendship Centres. Mr. Sheppard has worked at the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre since 2007, and currently holds a position as the Atlantic Manager with the Community Capacity Supports (CCS) Program and the Urban Partnerships (UP) Program which provide funding to Friendship Centres and other Urban Aboriginal organizations in Atlantic Canada. Mr. Sheppard continues to volunteer with other like-minded organizations in his free time.
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