Zoe Blunt

Deborah Curran

Tria Donaldson

David Eby

Irene Faulkner

Kasari Govender

Rose Henry

Shane Johnson

Robin Loxton

Anushka Nagji

Val Napoleon

Stephen Portman

Greg Sam

Rick Schwartz

Kerry L. Simmons

Chris Tollefson

Mark Willson


Zoe Blunt is known for her no-holds-barred brand of environmental activism. In the last fifteen years, she founded a series of “deep green” groups dedicated to using every available means to defend wild nature. Blunt blew the whistle on Bear Mountain developer Len Barrie long before he was apprehended by the Revenue Canada and the courts. She is the driving force behind, which was instrumental in overturning a massive resort development planned for Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Park.

Deborah Curran is the Hakai Professor in Environmental Law and Sustainability at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. She teaches courses on municipal law and real property transactions, as well as the Environmental Law Clinic – Intensive course. Deborah also facilitates a unique field course in environmental law in the Central Coast at the Hakai Beach Research Institute on Calvert Island. As a Program Director with the Environmental Law Centre at UVic, she supervises students working on environmental law projects for community organizations and First Nations, and administers the ELC Associates Program for lawyers across the province.

Tria Donaldson is the Pacific Coast Campaigner at the Wilderness Committee, where she fights against coal mining, natural gas fracking, the Site C Dam and fish farms.

Tria has many years of experience working in the youth climate movement, and was part of the Canadian Youth Delegation to Copenhagen for COP15. She is passionate about dealing with environmental issues in a fair and equitable manner that includes addressing systemic oppression and inequality. She is an active volunteer with several organizations, including the Together Against Poverty Society, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

David Eby is a lawyer and is the Executive Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, one of Canada’s oldest and most active human and democratic rights organizations. An adjunct professor of law at the University of British Columbia, President of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Research Associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, David last year’s winner of the B.C. Human Rights Coalition and U.N. Association of Vancouver’s Renate Shearer Award for his contributions to the human rights field locally and internationally. He is ranked #47 on Vancouver Magazine’s Power 50 list, and was listed by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of Canada’s most influential lawyers on social media.

David focuses his work on reforming public policy that disproportionately impacts poor, mentally ill,homeless, addicted and otherwise marginalized people. His reports and advocacy have contributed to major shifts in government policy related to homelessness, provincial housing and police accountability. and
Twitter: @Dave_Eby
david (at)

Irene Faulkner graduated from UVic Law in 1994 and was called to the B.C. Bar in 1995. She became a lawyer after working for many years with NGO’s in the peace movement. She now practices civil litigation and administrative law in Victoria. During her career she has worked on a number of Charter cases, including Little Sister’s Bookstore challenge to Canada Customs censorship of gay and lesbian pornography. In 2008/2009, she and Catherine Boies Parker were awarded the Victoria Bar Association’s Contribution to the Law Award and also received a Human Rights Honours medal for their work in successfully challenging the City of Victoria’s bylaw which prohibited homeless people from setting up shelter in public spaces.

Kasari Govender is the Executive Director of West Coast LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund), which works to achieve equality by changing historic patterns of discrimination against women through public legal education, litigation and law reform. In addition, she represents the organization in interventions in equality rights litigation such as the Polygamy Reference and was the co-author of the 2010 report entitled Rights Based Legal Aid: Rebuilding BC’s Broken System. Before joining West Coast LEAF, Kasari practiced constitutional, equality and aboriginal law. She earned her degree in law from the University of Victoria, and her Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. She sits on the Board of Pivot Legal Society, and she co-chairs both the Coalition on Public Legal Services and the Canadian Bar Association’s Social Justice Section.

Robin Loxton has worked for the Advocacy Access Program since its inception in 1989, when the BCCPD obtained a grant from the Law Foundation of BC. His work as a community advocate has been to assist people with disabilities access disability benefits from the the provincial and federal governments. Over the years, Robin has been involved with such organizations such as End Legislated Poverty, BC Human Rights Coalition, Legal Services Society of BC and PovNet.

Anushka Nagji is a student, an activist, a poet, a performer, an artist, a changemaker. Hailing from the prairies, Anushka has spent the last 3 years on the island tussling with the law inside and outside of the classroom, these days mostly outside of the classroom and mostly in the context of the People’s Assembly of Victoria.

Val Napoleon was appointed Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance at UVic on January 1, 2012. She is from northeastern British Columbia and is of Cree, Saulteaux and Dunne’za heritage. She is also an adopted member of the Gitanyow (Gitksan) House of Luuxhon, Ganeda (Frog) clan.

Val worked as a community activist and consultant in northwestern B.C. for over 25 years, specializing in health, education and justice issues. She has also served on a number of provincial, regional and local boards. Val received her Ph.D. degree from UVic Law’s Graduate Program in Law and Society in June 2009. Her dissertation explored the consequences of major litigation on Aboriginal peoples’ internal social relationships and relationships with the land.

Val’s current research and teaching interests include Aboriginal legal theory and legal reasoning processes, customary law, cultural property, self-determination and governance, Aboriginal issues that are beyond the confines of the Western legal rights framework, and reactions to colonialism.

Stephen Portman has been an enthusiastic advocate for the interests of marginalised people throughout southern Vancouver Island for the past three years. During this time he has become became very interested in the need to provide legal support to those in need, seeing first hand that access to social justice is one of the largest barriers to constructing a community built on social equality and is currently serving as a Co-chair to the Coalition for Public Legal Services. Here in Victoria Stephen completed a B.A. Majoring in Political Science and History from UVIC. While completing his studies Stephen became particularly interested in the study of social reform movements as well as various forms of grass roots activism. Stephen’s Work with TAPS serves as his first foray into the field of professional legal advocacy in our community.

Greg Sam is Royal Roads University’s Aboriginal Coordinator. He is a Coast Salish Speaker who is dedicated to education about Aboriginal culture, his peoples’ lifestyle, and their way of teaching. He was born into the Tsartlip First Nations and was given the hereditary name of Lux-Lax-A-Luc. He was brought up immersed in the traditional culture and values of the Tsartlip people.

Greg is an elder with the Tsartlip First Nation, is a speaker, storyteller and ceremonial master, a man-about-town with an infectious smile bridging the gap between Native society and the wider world.

In 1979, he attended a training session at the Nechi Institute in Alberta where he says he “became in touch with all the teachings, all the contemporary life approaches to dealing with issues and challenges.” It was then that he decided he wanted to help others by sharing with them the teachings and traditions of his Native culture.

Over the past several years he has coordinated and facilitated several workshops, including “Life Skills”, a workshop for youth, and “Skwata-The Raven Speaks” workshop, which he co-hosted with his late father, Dr. Samuel Sam, O.C., in partnership with the University of Victoria Law School.

Since 1994 Greg has been assisting the Aboriginal Liaison office of the University of Victoria in setting a traditional tone for graduation and protocol receptions. He also also worked with the Victoria Police Department’s Native Liaison Program. In Aboriginal communities Greg facilitates self-governance, leadership and communications workshops.

Greg sits on the Royal Roads University Research Ethics Board. He works with the Canadian National Elders Council, which provides assistance to the Indigenous Bar Association.

Greg has been described by those who know him as man with compassion, humour, spirit and a sense of pride in what it is to be Native.

Richard Schwartz obtained a BA from the University of Winnipeg and then a law degree in 1979 from the University of Manitoba. He articled with Judge Thomas Gove in Vancouver and was called to the BC bar in 1980. In that same year, Richard started his legal career as a Crown prosecutor in Vancouver and then in Powell River where he was the sole prosecutor from 1980 to 1982. Richard moved to Victoria in 1982 where he served the Victoria John Howard Society as president from 1985 until 1993, was involved with the Youth Program Committee of BC from 1993 to 1998 and then the Fairfield Community Association as president until 2005. From 1999 to 2005, he chaired the Canadian Bar Association Youth Justice Section and was invited to address the Canadian Senate Sub Committee on amendments to the YOA, now the YCJA. Afterwards he sat on the Victoria Downtown Advisory Commission as well as the Advisory Planning Commission at Victoria City Hall. From 2007 until 2009, Richard sat on the Legal Services Society board, bringing his years of practice and knowledge to legal aid in BC. He wasawarded a Legal Services Society Chair’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2011.

Kerry L. Simmons is the Vice-President of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, which represents 6,700 lawyers in British Columbia. This year, as a follow-up to its Public Commission on Legal Aid, the CBABC has led a public engagement campaign to promote support for increased funding to legal aid (, and continued its advocacy with government politicians and public servants to increase funding to legal aid.

Kerry’s represents clients with family law and civil litigation matters and is a partner at Cook Roberts LLP in Victoria. She is also a frequent speaker and instructor in the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria.

Chris Tollefson is a professor and founding Executive Director of the UVic Environmental Law Centre with responsibility for overseeing operations of Canada’s largest public interest environmental law clinic. He has appeared in all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada, and remains an active litigator. His research interests include access to justice, public participation and new governance arrangements. He is a former President of the Ecojustice Legal Defence Fund, and in 2011 he was appointed as the inaugural Hakai Chair in Environmental Law and Sustainability at the UVic Faculty of Law.

Mark Willson is Research Coordinator with the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group, and a PhD student in Political Science. Mark is currently working on local campaigns challenging social profiling and the policing of poverty, and challenging the war on drugs and denial of essential health services to people who use illicit drugs.


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