Kasari Govender, LLB
Kasari is passionate about women’s 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 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.
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. She brings experience in grassroots education, community consultation, communications, and project management, most recently 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 is trained as an English and ESL teacher and 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.
Manager of Community Outreach
Shahnaz has a combined 22 years of experience as an educator, author, counselor, facilitator, provincial coordinator, and community liaison. In her current position at West Coast LEAF, Shahnaz manages community-based programming with a focus on using family law to advance women’s equality rights. She has extensive experience building community partnerships with diverse groups including members from ethno-cultural and Aboriginal communities across BC. Shahnaz’s wonderful mother continues to be her inspiration and hope for a discrimination free world.
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.
Youth Program Coordinator
Afie is currently a geography student at UBC, with a specialization in environment and sustainability. Her studies sparked her interest in social and economic sustainability and the huge role that equality plays in ensuring this. Afie’s social justice passions lie especially in anti-racism, decolonization, and of course all things gender. When she’s not in class, locked in the library, or at workshops, you can find her shouting her love for salt and vinegar chips and used bookstores from the rooftops.
Sarah Layla Robbie
Nanaimo Youth Workshop Coordinator
Sarah Layla is a graduate student at the University of Victoria in Leadership studies, focusing on how communities educate for and enact social justice. Her educational background is in psychology, women’s studies, and conflict resolution. She is dedicated to finding ways to serve the communities she lives in in whichever ways she can. She loves to engage with the arts, from poetry to dance, teaches the occasional yoga class, and enjoys a good hike in the woods or a ride on her bike.
Thompson-Nicola Youth Workshop Coordinator
Emiko is passionate and driven to impact rural youth and help to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #5: gender equality. As Thompson-Nicola Region Youth Workshop Coordinator, she is responsible for marketing, coordinating, and presenting legal rights workshops that explore social justice issues like inequality, power, gender stereotypes, and discrimination. Emiko holds a Bachelor of Human Kinetics from UBC with a specialization in Health Promotion. In her spare time, Emiko serves as a Community Mentor to the gender equality club she founded at Thompson Rivers University and helps a Sweden-based NGO tackle unconscious gender bias.
Robyn Trask is Legal Counsel with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF). She represents the BCTF in labour arbitrations and at all levels of court. Robyn previously worked with a Toronto litigation firm and completed her articles with the Canadian Autoworkers Union in Toronto. She has also spent time working with legal organizations in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia, working on projects concerning women’s rights in those countries, including working as an Ethiopia project consultant to the British Columbia Justice Education Society between 2009 and 2013. Robyn is also the Secretary-Treasurer for the Canadian Bar Association National Labour and Employment Law Section.
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.
Bronwyn is a CPA, CGA and has over 30 years of accounting experience. She gained her New Zealand CA in 1985 while working at “Big 4 International CA” firm and shortly after transferred to their Vancouver office where she worked in public practice for two more years. In 1992 she received her Canadian CGA. Since leaving public practice Bronwyn has worked in various organizations, including utilities, financial and small medium enterprises in a financial management capacity. She is currently the senior financial officer in a growing R&D manufacturing company. She served as a collective member for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women Shelter for three years, and she was a board member for CHIMO Community Services for two years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joana Thackeray (on leave)
Joana is an associate lawyer with Gall Legge Grant & Munroe LLP. Prior to her call to the bar, Joana was a law clerk for the Honourable Mr. Justice Thomas Cromwell of the Supreme Court of Canada (2009-2010), and for justices at the British Columbia Court of Appeal (2008-2009). Joana maintains a general litigation practice, with a focus on appellate and judicial review, administrative, constitutional, human rights and employment law. She has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the British Columbia Supreme Court and Provincial Court. She has also appeared before a number of administrative boards and tribunals in British Columbia. Joana received her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria where she received various prizes and awards for her academic performance and involvement in the law school community, including the David Strong Leadership in Legal Studies Award, the BLG Prize in Appellate Advocacy, and the FMC Summer Student Research Fellowship to study comparative constitutional law. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, where she was awarded the Hugh Brock Memorial Entrance Scholarship.