Paul St. Pierre dedicated his life to character, lies, and storytelling; and to privacy, relentless resistance to rules and rulers, and to freedom. Acclaimed writer, reporter, member of parliament, diplomat, Vancouver Sun editor, BC cowboy legend, world’s last living non-economist, … Read More
Iman Baobeid, Communications and Outreach Manager
Iman Baobeid joined the BCCLA while completing an MA at the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. She brings a background in outreach and communications from her previous work at the Equity & Inclusion Office at UBC, substantive volunteer experience with the BCCLA, UBC Go Global, and as a graphic designer with the “Yemen Speaks” Conflict Testimony Campaign.
Iman’s academic work centres on post-conflict nation-state transformation in Yemen where she studies the impact of legal and institutional shifts on gender relations. She examines the formation of gendered legal subjectivities and their entanglement in the re-articulation of Islamic law in the Yemeni nation-state. She’s particularly passionate about issues of migrant justice, transitional justice, Islamophobia, and structural oppression in Canada.
Born in Yemen, she moved to Vancouver in 2011 to pursue a BA in Sociology and Law & Society at UBC. In addition, she is an artist and storyteller and is constantly exploring new ways to utilize art and design for social justice.
Latoya Farrell, Articling Student
Latoya Farrell is a recent addition to the BCCLA team from Edmonton, AB. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan – College of Law in 2018, completing her final year abroad at the University of Birmingham in England where she focused on Human Rights and Criminal Justice. Prior to that, Latoya worked as a Multicultural Liaison with the Fort McMurray Catholic School District helping Aboriginal and newly immigrated students to successfully complete High School.
In 2009, she graduated from the University of Alberta – Augustana Faculty with a B.A in Sociology and a B.A in Studio Foundations. She has volunteered as a Youth Coordinator with the National Black Coalition of Canada, developing youth programs for the African-Canadian community. She is also an accomplished artist and has been featured in various shows around Edmonton.
Amy Gill, Executive Coordinator
Amy Gill joined the BCCLA as an Executive Coordinator in 2018 after completing a BA at the University of British Columbia with a Double Honours in English Literature and Political Science. Her academic interests includes political theory (particularly postcolonialism and decolonization), diasporic literature, and interculturalism in popular culture. Amy also has previous experience working as the President and Letter Writing Coordinator for the UBC Chapter of Amnesty International, where she was active in organizing events and activism opportunities on campus to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Canada and abroad. Amy is passionate about social justice, community organizing, and the oxford comma.
Jessi Halliday, Legal Administrative Assistant
Jessi joined the BCCLA in February of 2016 as the Legal Administrative Assistant. Although she mainly provides support to the legal team, her role includes supporting all other departments, as well as providing general reception services. Jessi’s educational background includes a Communications Certificate and a Legal Administrative Assistant Certificate, both of which were obtained from Douglas College. Her past vocational experience includes working as a support worker for children and youth with developmental disabilities and behavioural conditions. Most recently she was a Legal Assistant at Farris, Vaughan, Wills and Murphy LLP, where she provided assistance to a team of lawyers whose practice focused on constitutional, aboriginal and administrative law matters. Jessi’s experience as a legal assistant includes work at all levels of court throughout British Columbia, as well as the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Catherine Hart, Supporter Relations Manager
Catherine Hart joined the BCCLA in 2015. She brings a background in communications, outreach and fundraising from her previous work at the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA), and OpenMedia.ca. Catherine moved to Vancouver to pursue a Masters in Communication in 2008 at Simon Fraser University. Her academic research focused on surveillance; national security; privacy and civil liberties. Prior to obtaining her MA, Catherine earned a BA (Hons) from the University of Birmingham, UK with concentrations in North American history, literature, and cultural studies. She is passionate about using new technologies to amplify marginalized voices, and to facilitate opportunities for all individuals to participate in a democratic society.
Mark Hosak, Director of Community Engagement
Mark Hosak joined the BCCLA in 2018. He brings a background in fundraising, communications, and organizing from his previous experience with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, various progressive political campaigns and work as a Legislative Assistant to a Member of Parliament. His past campaigns have included advocating for wild salmon protection, for veterans pension rights and against climate change.
Mark holds a Masters of Political Management from Carleton University and a BA Hons in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. His work focused on applied campaign theory and political narrative development.
Maggie Knight, Operations Director
Maggie Knight is the BCCLA’s first Operations Director, joining the team early in 2016. She served as President of McGill’s undergraduate student union during the Quebec student strike (2011-2012) and led the organizational development of start-up political advocacy non-profit Leadnow.ca as their first Managing Director. Before joining the BCCLA, she ran communications and operations at RADIUS, a social innovation lab and venture incubator housed at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. She holds a BASc in Environment (Honours) and Economics from McGill University, and has advocated for justice and human rights with organizations such as Journalists for Human Rights, Canadian Friends Service Committee, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, and Amnesty International. She enjoys working with social and environmental justice organizations to build teams, culture, and organizational infrastructure that empower everyone to do their best work. Maggie is passionate about transforming structural injustices and building people powered movements that can hold governments accountable. Raised on Coast Salish Territories in Victoria, she lived in Montreal and Halifax before coming to call Vancouver home.
Emily Lapper, Senior Counsel (Litigation)
Emily Lapper joined the BCCLA as senior counsel in 2018. Prior to joining the BCCLA, Emily worked in the Vancouver office of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP (formerly, Bull, Housser &Tupper LLP) where she maintained a civil litigation practice encompassing both commercial and public law. Emily has acted as counsel in cases involving Indigenous consultation, administrative law and procedure, local government law, unreasonable search and seizure under s. 8 of the Charter, the right to access to medical marijuana, the availability of s. 24(1) Charter damages, and criminal sentencing. Emily has argued before all levels of court in British Columbia, appeared before the Court of Appeal for Ontario and Court of Appeal of Alberta, and has argued in the Supreme Court of Canada.
From 2012-2013, Emily served as a law clerk to Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella at the Supreme Court of Canada. From 2010-2011, she served as a law clerk for Justice K. Smith and Justice Kirkpatrick of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia. Emily is a graduate of the University of Victoria Faculty of Law.
Dylan Mazur, Community Lawyer
Dylan Mazur joined the BCCLA as Community Lawyer in 2017. Dylan has over fifteen years of experience collaborating with diverse communities in Canada and Latin America on initiatives in the areas of human rights, mental health, and community development. Dylan articled at Community Legal Assistance Society, where he represented clients at the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the Mental Health Review Board. Dylan also worked as the Summer Law Student at the Legal Department of the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc in Kamloops.
Prior to articles, Dylan served as Executive Director of the Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture. In Mexico, he collaborated with human rights organizations in Chiapas and Oaxaca to develop community-based psychosocial support programs for survivors of torture and political violence. In Guatemala, Dylan worked on the development of a knowledge exchange project between First Nations and Mayan communities to promote indigenous justice systems in Guatemala and British Columbia. He also collaborated with three coffee-growing communities in the Western Highlands of Guatemala to develop a community-owned and operated water, sanitation, and public health project.
Dylan holds a Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Social Work from UBC.
Meghan McDermott joined the BCCLA as staff counsel in March of 2017. With a B.A. in philosophy from Concordia University, her compassion and curiosity drove her to study law at the University of Victoria so that she could collaborate with others to pursue law reform in the interest of enhancing social justice. She has an LL.M. from the University of Edinburgh where her studies focused on whether parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have a responsibility to share the benefits of their forestry-related activities with local and Indigenous communities. Prior to joining the BCCLA she worked for many years as an advisor with the government of British Columbia, developing environmental and health policy and legislation. She has also provided legal services for the government of Ontario and interned as a legal analyst with the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights in South Africa.
When she isn’t working, Meghan can usually be found gardening or exploring the city with her dogs. She loves current affairs, arts and culture and volunteers as an executive with the board of Island Mountain Arts, a unique gallery and school of the arts in the Cariboo.
Kate Oja, Counsel (Litigation)
Kate joined the BCCLA as staff counsel in October 2018. She was called to the bar in 2010, after obtaining her law degree from the University of Toronto, with a focus on international human rights. Prior to joining the BCCLA, Kate was a practising criminal defence lawyer, first in Toronto, where she gained valuable trial and appellate experience arguing cases at all levels of court in Ontario. More recently, Kate practiced in Yellowknife, where she worked for two years as staff counsel for the Legal Aid Commission of the Northwest Territories, often travelling to remote communities to represent Indigenous clients facing criminal charges. In 2018 she successfully challenged the constitutionality of the mandatory minimum sentence for the offence of reckless discharge of a firearm, resulting in the law being struck down in the Northwest Territories. She has always been drawn to legal work that advances the rights of marginalized people and people in conflict with the law, and has significant experience litigating Charter cases that engage search and seizure rights, the right to counsel, and limitations on the arrest and detention powers of police.
Grace Pastine, Litigation Director
Grace Pastine is the Litigation Director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. Grace conducts litigation and oversees the management and strategic direction of the legal activities of the BCCLA on a broad range of civil liberties cases.
She has directed over 70 high profile cases for the BCCLA on issues including freedom of speech and expression, national security issues, access to governmental information, police misconduct, privacy rights, women’s rights, voting rights, right to counsel and prisoner rights. She has appeared as counsel or co-counsel for the BCCLA at public inquiries and at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
Grace was counsel for the BCCLA at the Braidwood inquiry, a public inquiry established to inquire into the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who died after he was tasered five times by the police at the Vancouver airport. That inquiry led the provincial government to announce the establishment of a civilian-run investigation body, ending the practice of police investigating themselves. She was co-counsel for the BCCLA before the Supreme Court of Canada in Vancouver (City) v. Ward, which established that monetary damage awards are available to Canadians whose Charter rights have been violated even if the government did not intentionally violate the person’s rights.
Prior to joining the BCCLA, Grace was a lawyer with Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP in Vancouver, B.C. Grace is a frequent speaker on civil liberties issues. She has taught law school courses as an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.
Grace received her law degree from the University of Washington and graduated summa cum laude from Wells College with a B.A. in English Literature. Grace is called to the bar of British Columbia and is a member of the Oregon State bar.
Josh Paterson, Executive Director
Josh Paterson joined the BCCLA as its Executive Director in January 2013. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia since 2013.
Josh’s career as a lawyer has focused on protecting some of the most marginalized people from human rights violations, civil liberties restrictions, discrimination and environmental injustice. He has worked for several years as a lawyer for First Nations in their fights to protect their constitutional rights and their inherent legal authority. His work has included law reform and policy advocacy, public education, community organizing, government relations and litigation.
Josh holds law and master’s degrees from the University of Toronto, and clerked at Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice.
Prior to joining BCCLA, he was the Aboriginal and Natural Resources Lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, where he led that organization’s highly effective legal work protecting the rights of people in northern and coastal BC. Since September 2016, he has served on the Board of Directors of West Coast.
Josh got his start acting as the Director of the Freedom of Expression, Equality and Dignity Project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in Toronto. After moving to Vancouver in the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples, he joined a busy union-side labour and human rights practice, and spent much of his time working on one of BC’s largest racial discrimination cases in history.
In 2007 he was honoured by Pro Bono Law of BC as “Lawyer of the Year” for his volunteer work.
Sonya Pighin, Legal Consultant, Policing Indigenous Communities Initiative
Sonya Pighin is an Indigenous lawyer who is working with BCCLA as a legal consultant. Sonya is a member of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, as well as the Gitdumden Clan of the Wet’suwet’en. She currently resides in Victoria, BC, in the territories of the WSÁNEĆ (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples. She has spent the past 15 years working with Indigenous communities in a variety of contexts. For the past 3.5 years Sonya has provided in-house and ad hoc legal services to First Nation “Bands” across BC. She has also represented indigenous organizations on legal matters. Sonya’s background also includes experience working with Maori communities in New Zealand on comprehensive treaty claims and with Maori and Pacific Island families as a youth justice coordinator. In Canada, Sonya has worked as a child and youth mental health worker (Coast Salish Territory), as a child rights advocate (all over BC), and as a child and youth care worker in a residential setting (in Lheidli T’enneh Territory and Coast Salish Territory). Sonya has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in criminology from Vancouver Island University, and a Bachelor of Law degree from University of Victoria. She is also currently working towards a Masters in Law with a specialization in Constitutional Law through Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director
Micheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BCCLA since 2004. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Faculty of Law and in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics. She is a regular guest instructor for UBC’s College of Health Disciplines Interdisciplinary Elective in HIV/AIDS Care. She has been honoured for her work in HIV/AIDS with both an AccolAIDS Award and a Red Ribbon Award, and she is the recipient of the 2015 Keith Sacré Library Champion Award for support, guidance and assistance given to the BC library community. Her publication credits include the Birkbeck Law Review, Surveillance and Society, Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, and Canadian Journal of Law and Technology. Ms. Vonn is a frequent speaker on a variety of civil liberties topics including privacy, national security, policing, surveillance and free speech. She is currently a collaborator on Big Data Surveillance, a multi-year research projected lead by Queens University. She is an Associate of the SFU Institute for the Humanities, an Advisory Board Member of Ryerson University’s Centre for Free Expression and an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International.