Kasari Govender, LLB
Kasari is passionate about gender equality and using the law as a tool to build a more equal world. Before joining West Coast LEAF, Kasari practiced constitutional, equality and aboriginal law. She earned her law degree from the University of Victoria, and her Masters Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. She is the founding President of Rise Women’s Legal Centre, has sat on the board of Pivot Legal Society, the Coalition for Public Legal Services, and Society for Children and Youth, and was an Adjunct Professor of Law at UBC. When she’s not knee deep in constitutional law and the feminist movement, Kasari can usually be found running around after her toddler.
Director of Law Reform
Elba comes to West Coast LEAF following years of work with communities directly impacted by systemic inequality. Prior to joining West Coast LEAF, Elba practiced labour, employment and human rights law at a Toronto-based social justice firm and volunteered with the Worker’s Action Centre where she assisted workers in situations of precarious employment in enforcing their rights. Through this work, Elba saw first-hand the challenges the most marginalized communities face in accessing the law. In 2016, she returned to school to receive an LLM from SOAS, University of London during which she researched how transnational coalition building can facilitate feminist law reform efforts. Following her LLM, Elba led a public legal education program at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law for newcomer youth. Most recently, she acted as a legal advisor to a number of women-led grassroots community organizations working on indigenous land rights in Myanmar. Elba loves traveling, reading (particularly post-modern fiction) and trying out new fitness classes.
Director of Litigation
At the core of Raji’s wide-ranging legal career is a commitment to using the law as a tool for positive transformation. Prior to joining West Coast LEAF, Raji practiced constitutional and administrative law. Her work was focused on sentencing reform, the impact of detention on women, civil forfeiture, and election law. Raji consults on a range of research and advocacy projects for large and small international non-profit organizations. She teaches an upper-level course on constitutional law and civil liberties at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law. Raji served as a law clerk to the Hon. Frank Iacobucci at the Supreme Court of Canada. She received her law degree from the University of Victoria and holds a BA from the University of British Columbia and an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. Outside of work, Raji likes to make paper crafts, binge on Netflix, and meander along city streets in search of coffee.
Manager of Community Outreach
Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson is a proud mixed woman raised by a Welsh-Jewish immigrant Mum and a Metis-Cree father. Sharnelle is passionate about addressing the impacts of colonialism and injustice through the power of meaningful relationships. Sharnelle grew up in Nanaimo (Snuneymuxw Nation) but now calls Vancouver home. She is a student at UVic in a Masters of Indigenous Social Work. She often can be found hanging out with her tortoise and cat and enjoying this beautiful, unceded Coast Salish Territory.
Director of Development & Engagement
Prior to her tenure as editor of a community newspaper, Basya was director of a community foundation, and worked for an organization in New York City dedicated to building collaborative relationships between national ethnic lay organizations and communities around the country. Basya has an interdisciplinary degree with a focus on identity issues in the African diaspora, and attended NYU to study humanities and social thought. With strong interests in public health, ethics, literacy, animal conservation, public policy and equality rights, she also loves to spend time with family and friends, read, and enjoy Vancouver’s natural surroundings.
Manager of Public Legal Education
Alana is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to West Coast LEAF’s work for social justice as the Manager of Public Legal Education. A BC-certified English and ESL teacher, Alana brings experience in classroom-based and grassroots education, communications, community consultation, and project management. Most recently, Alana worked at the BC Civil Liberties Association and at WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, where she led a campus anti-violence initiative in partnership with Vancouver Community College. Alana also holds an MA in Cultural Studies. When she’s not at work, you’re likely to find her scooting around town on her bike, writing poems, or dancing with abandon.
Youth Workshop Coordinator
Kaymi is a mixed race Korean/Scottish settler living and learning on the unceded lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam nations. She is dedicated to intersectional feminist, anti-oppressive, and decolonial approachs to social justice. She has a degree in Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice (GRSJ) and Human Geography from UBC, unceded Musqueam territories, but has learned most from community members, family, and activists. Kaymi is grateful to be in this role at West Coast LEAF as she enjoys exchanging knowledge with youth.
Event Manager & Donor Coordinator
Sharon is the Event Manager & Donor Coordinator at West Coast LEAF. She coordinates the Annual Equality Breakfast and manages the donor database. Prior to joining West Coast LEAF, she worked with international organizations and education institutions in China and Australia to implement training and research programs. Sharon has an academic background in Labor Economics; she loves knitting and also likes to spend time exploring new places.
Driven by a passion for social justice, Victoria brings her experience in community organizing and non-profit work to West Coast LEAF, as well as her joy in well-organized systems. She has a BA from SFU with a triple minor in Dialogue, Sociology, and Psychology, in addition to a Certificate in Social Justice. She is inspired by the resilience of migrant women like her mum, and can be found singing no matter where she is.
Caitlin is thrilled to join West Coast LEAF as the Administrative Assistant. Having previously worked in law and accounting offices, she brings a love of problem solving and list making to the team. An avid dragon boater, she is a strong promoter of adapted sports as a way to combat isolation for people with disabilities. To offset her participation in paddling and yoga, Caitlin knits, reads and binge watches bad dramas.
Law Co-op Student
Afifa is a second year law student at UVic with a passion for social justice and equality. At UVic Law, she is co-president of the Feminist Law Club. Afifa holds a BA (Honours) in Political Science from SFU. Prior to law school, she contributed to a number of social justice and legal organizations through research and writing, workshop facilitation, and community outreach. As a former volunteer, Afifa is pleased to return to West Coast LEAF.
Isabelle is excited to join West Coast LEAF as its first articling student and begin her legal career at an intersectional feminist organization. She is a graduate of UVic Law and holds a BA in Linguistics from UBC. During law school, Isabelle completed a co-op term in each of West Coast LEAF’s program areas. She is passionate about using the law for social change and engaging with diverse forms of advocacy and problem solving.
Amber obtained her law degree from UBC in 2005 and Master’s in Law from UVic in 2007. She has been a legal advocate with Atira Women’s Resource Society since 2006. Atira is a feminist organization providing direct services to women impacted by violence. Within Atira, Amber provides poverty law services to marginalized women in the downtown eastside. Amber is also an adjunct professor at the UBC Law Faculty and member of the Sucker Creek First Nation. Amber started at West Coast LEAF as a summer student in 2004 and has been a board member since 2011. She also sits on West Coast LEAF’s Law & Policy Committee.
Julia Kwinter is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Chartered Business Valuator who lives in Victoria. She is currently a Senior Manager at Grant Thornton LLP. Since 2003, Julia has provided financial advisory support to clients, primarily related to valuation and dispute resolution. With a clear understanding of the distinct roles of board and management with respect to governance and operations, Julia creates practical solutions to complicated problems. She brings expertise in accounting, finance, and strategic planning with industry specialization in consumer products and retail sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Victoria and is a member of the BC Association of Women in Finance.
Mia Taghizadeh has worked to increase youth civic engagement locally, nationally through federal politics, and internationally through different UN agencies. This passion brought her to West Coast LEAF six years ago when she began facilitating the No Means No and Youth in the Workplace workshops to high school aged students. Mia also completed an internship with West Coast LEAF prior to entering law school. She contributed to the development of legislative audits conducted through a gendered lens. She has also been a speaker at the West Coast LEAF Equality Breakfast, the UBC Women and Law Dinner, and nominated for the Auriol Gurner Young Memorial Award at the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies at UBC.
Legal Committee Chair
Clea was called to the bar in May 1992. She articled with Victory Square Law Office, a union-side labour firm, and then worked for the BCGEU doing arbitration and labour board cases. Since October 1993, Clea has practiced privately, from 2000 onwards as a sole practitioner. She works primarily in the areas of human rights and employment law. Clea was co-counsel in a historical abuse case against the Crown involving a former child ward at Woodlands School. Clea was active for more than a decade with the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association, a non-profit organization which provides legal advice and advocacy for domestic workers in British Columbia, was a Board Member of P.A.C.E. (Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society), and has sat on the West Coast LEAF Legal Committee for more than a decade. She is currently the chair of that committee.
Elin is an associate lawyer with JFK Law in Vancouver and specializes in aboriginal and constitutional litigation. She has appeared and assisted in all levels of court in British Columbia, at the Federal Court, in Ontario Courts, and in the Supreme Court of Canada. She acts for First Nations, aboriginal groups and individuals, assisting clients to develop litigation and other legal strategies to advance their rights and interests. Elin has had the opportunity to work on high-profile litigation directed at social change, environmental protection, access to justice, and human rights. Elin came to practice law because of her dedication to using all available tools to improve social justice and equality. Elin lives in Vancouver with her husband and daughter and dear friends, and is part of a community of people who inspire her with their exciting lives and diverse and interesting work. Elin was called to the Bar in British Columbia in 2007. She received a Bachelor of Arts from UBC in 1999, a Bachelor of Laws from UBC in 2005 and a Master of Laws from the University of California at Berkeley in 2010.
Joana Thackeray is a Vancouver-based lawyer with expertise in litigation, judicial and appellate review, administrative, constitutional, and human rights law. She has appeared in all levels of court in British Columbia, in the Supreme Court of Canada, and before a variety of administrative boards and tribunals in British Columbia. Prior to her call to the bar, she was a law clerk for the Honourable Mr. Justice Thomas Cromwell of the Supreme Court of Canada and for justices at the British Columbia Court of Appeal. She received a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria in 2008, and a graduate degree in law from the University of Oxford (Wadham College) in 2017. While in private practice, Joana acted for a broad range of clients in the private and public sectors, including non-profit advocacy organizations such as West Coast LEAF. She has a strong interest in comparative human rights, equality and constitutional law. Joana currently practices as legal counsel in the Legal Services Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General.
Parvinder Hardwick is an associate at a downtown Vancouver law firm. She completed her law and political science degrees at the University of Victoria. From September 2010 to April 2011, she interned at the Legal Resources Centre, a human rights legal organization in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a part of the Canadian Bar Association’s Young Lawyers International Program. It was that experience, in particular, which inspired her to get involved in human rights law domestically.
Dr. Sana Shahram works with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow with the Equity Lens in Public Health (ELPH) research project . Dr. Shahram is also an Embedded Health Equity Scholar in Interior Health’s Population Portfolio and Research Department , and a sessional instructor at UBC Okanagan. Her research interests include decolonized approaches to health equity research, the social determinants of substance use during pregnancy, and knowledge mobilization that disrupts the systemic roots of inequitable health outcomes.
Nina was called to the Bar in 2006. She has worked primarily in civil litigation with private firms. However, her interest in human rights pushed her to become involved with West Coast LEAF as a volunteer, which ultimately led her to work with Pivot Legal Society & LLP in 2009. In August 2010, Nina went with the CBA Young Lawyers Program to Tanzania where she interned with their Law Society. She has a Masters in International Human Rights Law through the University of Oxford and has worked with the Representative for Children and Youth in Vancouver. She currently practices as Crown Counsel in Smithers, BC.
Martina Zanetti is a trusts and estates lawyer with the Vancouver office of Norton Rose Fulbright. Her practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration, and incapacity matters. She received her J.D. at UBC, and holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto with majors in Women and Gender Studies and International Relations. Martina has volunteered with West Coast LEAF in numerous capacities including on the CEDAW Report Card Subcommittee and at the Equality Breakfast. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. In her spare time Martina loves live music, cooking, knitting, and hanging out on Commercial Drive or at the edge of the world in Tofino.
Patricia Barkaskas is the Academic Director of the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic and an Instructor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law. She earned an M.A. in History, with a focus on Indigenous histories in North America, and a J.D., with a Law and Social Justice Specialization, from the University of British Columbia. Patricia has practiced in the areas of child protection (as parent’s counsel), criminal, family, as well as civil litigation and prison law. She has worked closely with Indigenous peoples in their encounters with the justice system and has worked for Residential school survivors as an historical legal researcher for the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. In addition, she has written Gladue reports for all levels of court in BC. Her current and future teaching and research interests include access to justice, clinical legal education, decolonizing and Indigenizing law, particularly examining the value of Indigenous pedagogies in experiential and clinical learning for legal education, and Indigenous laws. Patricia is Métis from Alberta.
Veronica is a business lawyer with Ratcliff & Company LLP, in North Vancouver, with an emphasis on First Nations economic development work. Her practice spans most aspects of a business’s life, from initial set up, operational matters, licensing and brand protection, expansion, financing, and employee issues, all the way to estate planning, income splitting, and preparing a business for sale. Her clients include small to mid-sized businesses and professional practices, First Nations from around the province, and local, national, and international not-for profits. Veronica has a particular interest in working with women in business, and has worked for federal and provincial government agencies, and in private practice for many years. Veronica is currently on the executive of the National Women’s Lawyer’s Forum, and member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Children’s Law Committee. She has been an active participant in the WLF mentoring program, Access ProBono and SOGIC. Veronica has been Chair of the North Shore Women’s Centre, the North Shore Youth Justice and Family Court Committee, and on the executive of the Gifted Children’s Association, and Mothers of Multiples. Veronica is the mother of three teenagers and stays sane by keeping active as an avid runner and member of Vancouver Frontrunners, cyclist, swimmer, snowshoer and very frequent user of the fantastic North Shore trails.
Frances Rosner is a Metis lawyer working as a sole practitioner in Vancouver, recently called to the bar in March 2016, practicing primarily in family and prison law. For the past 5 years, Frances has been working as a Gladue report writer for all levels of the court in BC, and co-authored a report filed in support of a leave application to the Supreme Court of Canada. She is passionate about social justice and has taken a special interest in advocating for persons with disabilities in all areas of her law practice. She has always been highly focused on legal issues involving Indigenous peoples—this lifelong passion stems from her own personal experience with racism and discrimination having grown up in Winnipeg on both sides of Portage Avenue (Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities). In her professional life, she has had the privilege of working closely with Indigenous peoples and communities across Canada. She is now more determined than ever to advocate for change and work towards reconciliation. Generally speaking, she finds herself drawn to legal issues that involve arbitrary state action, power imbalances, and the marginalization of any person or group. In her experience, these issues are most prevalent in prison law and child protection and so these areas of her practice are quickly growing.