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Meet our Commissioners

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Commissioners have in-depth knowledge and expertise in human rights issues and issues relating to vulnerable populations, public policy, social values, and concepts of fairness, justice and public service. 

Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane  - Appointed October 2015

Renu Mandhane was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in October 2015. She is the former Executive Director of the award-winning International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She has an LL.M in international human rights law from New York University. Renu began her practice focused on criminal law, and in that capacity she represented many survivors of sexual violence and prisoners. Renu sits on the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch, and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations. Most recently, Renu was recognized by Canadian Lawyer magazine as one of Canada’s most influential lawyers for her advocacy related to solitary confinement.

Commissioner Karen Drake – Appointed June 2016

Karen Drake is an assistant professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University (formally at Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University) and a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Her teaching and research interests include Canadian law as it affects Indigenous peoples, Anishinaabe law and Métis law. She is the co-editor-in-chief of the Lakehead Law Journal and a commissioner with the Métis Nation of Ontario's Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government. She previously clerked with the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Canada and currently serves on the board of directors of the Indigenous Bar Association. 

Commissioner Mary Gusella – Appointed February 2016

Mary Gusella has served as the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Canadian Chair of the International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States, a member of the Public Service Commission, President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and Chair and President of Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation. In addition, she was a board member and President of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and a member of the Canadian Human Rights Museum Advisory Committee. Ms. Gusella holds a membership with the Law Society of Upper Canada and the International Commission of Jurists – Canadian Section. She has a Certificate from the Canadian Securities Institute and holds undergraduate degrees from the Universities of Toronto and Ottawa. Ms. Gusella also serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC).

Commissioner Rabia Khedr - Appointed September 2016

Rabia Khedr is a dedicated volunteer and advocate for diverse communities, women and individuals with disabilities. She is a human rights consultant with diversityworX, founder of the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities and a member of the Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee, which she chaired for eight years. Commissioner Khedr has also been on the board of directors for the Ontario Women's Health Network and a member of the Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Commissioner Julie Lee – Appointed September 2009

Julie Lee is a lawyer, practicing family law in London, Ontario. Julie clerked for the Honourable Mr. Justice Iacobucci at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 – 2000. Before her legal education, she worked in the anti-violence movement as an educator, administrator and advocate.

She is the co-founder of second stage housing in Huron County and the past executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre in London, Ontario. Julie’s advocacy has also been directed at achieving equity and dignity for same-sex families.

Commissioner Kwame McKenzie - Appointed June 2016

Kwame McKenzie is the CEO of Wellesley Institute. He is a Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and medical director of health equity at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is a member of the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council to Ontario's Minister of Health and sits on advisories to the Ministry of Education, Ministry and Housing and the Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy. He serves on the boards of the United Way Toronto and York Region, and Ontario Hospitals Association.

Commissioner Errol Mendes – Appointed September 2009

Professor Mendes is a lawyer, author and professor, and has been an advisor to corporations, governments, civil society groups and the United Nations. His teaching, research and consulting interests include public and private sector gov­ernance, conflict resolution, constitutional law, international law and human rights law and policy. He has authored or edited 11 leading texts in these areas. He has been a Project Leader for conflict resolution, governance and justice projects in China,Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, El Salvador and Sri Lanka.

Since 1979, Professor Mendes has taught at Law Faculties across the coun­try, including the University of Alberta, Edmonton, the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario and the University of Ottawa from 1992 to present. He recently completed a Visiting Fellowship at Harvard Law School.

Commissioner Bruce Porter - Appointed June 2016

Bruce Porter is a leading advocate for the rights of people living in poverty and the homeless. He is currently serving as the executive director of Canada's Social Rights Advocacy Centre and is a senior advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing. Commissioner Porter recently co-directed a 10-year collaborative research project on social rights in Canada and has co-edited two books on social rights, in addition to writing many articles on the subject. Commissioner Porter lives and works outside of Huntsville, Ontario.

Commissioner Maurice Switzer - Appointed June 2016

Maurice Switzer Bnesi is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. He is the principal of Nimkii Communications, a public education practice which focuses on the treaty relationship between First Nations and the Canadian government. He has served as the director of communications for both the Assembly of First Nations and the Union of Ontario Indians. Commissioner Switzer was also the first Indigenous publisher of a daily newspaper in Canada and currently resides in North Bay.

Commissioner Léonie Tchatat - Appointed February 2017

Léonie Tchatat, a Canadian of Cameroonian origin, is recognized for her leadership building long lasting bridges between the larger society and diverse, newcomer Francophone communities. She has contributed her expertise in inclusion issues to develop initiatives such as Compétences Culturelles, a skills training program declared a best practice by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Government of Ontario. She is the driving force behind Ontario Business Platform 3.0, a holistic entrepreneurship platform that has helped dozens of young Francophone entrepreneurs launch their business projects in Ontario. She has launched two province-wide awareness raising campaigns under the title “Immigrant veut dire” (“Francophone immigrant means: a stronger Ontarian francophonie!”).

Ms. Tchatat launched and currently co-chairs the first-ever Francophone Workforce Development Council, and serves on IRCC’s Comité directeur – Communautés francophones en situation minoritaire. In 2012 she joined the Ontario government’s Expert Roundtable on Immigration, and in 2014 she served on the Technical Advisory Group supporting Ontario’s work on the Poverty Reduction Strategy. She is currently a member of the City of Toronto’s French Committee and serves on the Ontario Planning Board for a French-language university. She is a well-known spokesperson and the proud mother of two boys.

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