Biographies of members of the Commission
- Geeta Bharadia, Q.C., Full-time Member
- Jennifer Burns
- Catherine Christopher, Q.C.
- Honourable Paul Chrumka, Q.C.
- Shirley C. Heafey
- Moosa Jiwaji
- Sharon V. Lindgren-Hewlett
- Melissa Luhtanen
- William D. McFetridge, Q.C.
- Brenda F. Scragg
Chief of the Commission and Tribunals
Honourable David Blair Mason, Q.C.
David Blair Mason, Q.C., was appointed Chief of the Commission and Tribunals of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, effective March 1, 2009. His current term will expire on December 31, 2013. Mr. Mason brings to the Commission a long and distinguished legal career, which includes 28 years in the practice of law and 23 years as a Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. In addition, he has held notable professional appointments on various boards and membership in many professional organizations. He also has a wealth of community leadership experience.
Born in Montreal, Mr. Mason earned his bachelor and law degrees from the University of Alberta. He was called to the bar in Alberta in 1957 and to the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench on August 22, 1985, and he elected to become a supernumerary judge in 2001.
Mr. Mason's professional appointments include serving as the Vice-Chairman of the Alberta Board of Industrial Relations (1977) and as the first Chairman of the Public Service Employee Relations Board of Alberta (PSERBA) (1977 to 1983). As Chairman of the PSERBA, he developed the board and established the processes within which the board operated. He has also served on the board of the Alberta Institute of Law Research and Reform (1979-85) and as an Agent for the Attorney General of Alberta (1958-85).
Mr. Mason's labour law experience includes mediation as well as labour and commercial arbitration. He has chaired numerous arbitration boards and held membership in the National Academy of Arbitrators, the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution, and the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation. His general litigation experience includes civil litigation, administrative law, personal injury, insurance, and expropriation.
A current member of the International Commission of Jurists, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, and the Alberta Bar Association, Mr. Mason is also an Honourary Life Member of the Canadian Bar Association.
Mr. Mason's commitment to community leadership has included serving as Chairman of the Legal Section of the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal; a member of the Board of Governors of the Alberta Motor Association; Chairman of the Better Business Bureau of Calgary; and President of the Calgary Community Concert Association.
Mr. Mason is a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, both of which recognize outstanding and exemplary contributions to society.
Full-time Member of the Commission
Geeta Bharadia, Q.C., B.A. (Hon.), LL.B.
Geeta Bharadia, Q.C., has been appointed as the Full-time Member of the Commission and Tribunals for a term beginning September 1, 2011 and ending on October 31, 2014. In the absence of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Ms. Bharadia serves as the Acting Chief of the Commission and Tribunals. Ms. Bharadia grew up in the U.K. She graduated from the University of Calgary with an honours degree in Political Science in 1982 and from McGill University with a Law degree in 1989. She is a recipient of the Scarlett Key Award from McGill University.
Ms. Bharadia completed her mediation and collaborative law training in 2000. Since then, she has completed significant additional advanced education and training in both disciplines as well as obtaining her training in the interdisciplinary model of collaborative practice in 2006 and training in mediation/arbitration.
Ms. Bharadia was granted a quasi-judicial appointment in 1995 as Chairperson of the Canada Pension Plan Review Tribunal, which she held for eight years. She has had extensive training in decision making and has experience in decision writing.
Ms. Bharadia was the lead family lawyer at Bennett Jones LLP for several years. Her 22 years of legal practice have also included some work in the areas of employment law and commercial litigation. Although she has significant experience in the court room, Ms. Bharadia has actively promoted alternate dispute resolution in Alberta and Canada, focusing on issues related to ethics, accreditation, cross-cultural issues, children's interests, complicated financial matters and human rights. Ms. Bharadia was President (2006 to 2008) and Registrar (2008 to 2011) of the Alberta Family Mediation Society. She served on the Board for Collaborative Family Lawyers (Calgary) and Collaborative Family Lawyers (Alberta) for a number of years. Ms. Bharadia was appointed for many years as Dispute Resolution Officer by the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta and was also a mediator for Alberta Justice Family Mediation Services, which provides mediation services for lower income families. She has more recently been involved with The Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (CCAT) and The Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA).
Her other professional activities have included presenting at the Canadian Bar Association Midwinter Meeting, being a panel member for advanced training in mediation at the Alberta Family Mediation Society 2011 Conference, and presenting on cross-cultural mediation and teaching with the Legal Education Society of Alberta. Her more recent professional priorities include promoting continuing education and training in the area of mediation and adjudication and focusing on national and international human rights issues. Ms. Bharadia is a 2012 recipient of the Dr. John Haynes Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to the field of family mediation in Alberta.
Part-time Members of the Commission
Jennifer Burns, B.A., LL.B.
Jennifer Burns has been appointed for a term beginning September 30, 2010 and ending June 30, 2013. Ms Burns has a B.A. from the University of Toronto, St. Michael's College and a LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School. Ms. Burns was called to the bar in Ontario in 1989 and to the bar in Alberta in 1996. As a life-long learner, Ms Burns has pursued a number of professional development activities. Most recently Ms. Burns earned both a Project Leadership Certificate and a Project Management Certificate.
For a number of years prior to moving to Edmonton, Ms. Burns worked at the Toronto law firm of Weir Foulds primarily in the area of commercial litigation. For more than twenty years, Ms. Burns has worked with Extendicare Canada Inc.-first in their Eastern Canada division and since 1994 in their Western Canada division. At Extendicare Canada Inc. Ms. Burns works primarily in the areas of labour and employment. More recently her portfolio was expanded to include Occupational Health and Safety. Presently she is on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Continuing Care Safety Association. In addition, over the years Ms. Burns has contributed her time to many professional, charitable and educational organizations.
Ms. Burns also served as a part-time tribunal member of the Alberta Labour Relations Board for close to twelve years. Her first term with the Alberta Labour Relations Board began in 1999. The Alberta Labour Relations Board is an independent and impartial tribunal.
Catherine Christopher, Q.C.
Catherine Christopher, Q.C., has been appointed for a term beginning December 15, 2011 and ending December 31, 2014. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and a Master's in English in 1983, both from the University of Calgary. Ms. Christopher graduated from the University of Alberta with a Law degree in 1986 and was called to the Alberta Bar in 1987.
Ms. Christopher has dealt with a broad variety of legal issues, both in private practice over the course of a number of years, and as senior staff counsel at a poverty law clinic. She is currently a barrister and solicitor in the Office of the Public Trustee. Ms. Christopher was a sessional instructor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Calgary and a Bar Admission instructor lecturing on a variety of topics, and is currently a Learning Group Facilitator for the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) program with the Legal Education Society of Alberta. She has been a mediator with the Dispute Resolution Office at the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary.
In addition to publishing articles on a variety of topics that address law and society, Ms. Christopher has presented on these topics to both community organizations and academic forums, including the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Law and Society, and faculties at the University of Calgary. She has been invited to speak to legal associations outside of Canada.
In addition to community volunteer work, Ms. Christopher currently sits on the Board of the Legal Archives Society of Alberta and the Protection Against Family Violence Committee. She is a past member of both the Criminal Practice Advisory Committee and the Civil Practice Advisory Committee of the Law Society of Alberta.
Ms. Christopher was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for Service to the Community in 2002, jointly presented by the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association, and the Premier's Bronze Award for Excellence for committee participation in 2006. Ms. Christopher was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2004.
Honourable Paul Chrumka, Q.C., B.A., LL.B.
Paul Chrumka, Q.C., has been appointed for a term beginning January 1, 2010 and ending in December 2012. Mr. Chrumka brings with him a long and established legal career, which includes 25 years as a justice of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench.
Mr. Chrumka earned his bachelor and law degrees from the University of Alberta. After being called to the bar, he worked in private practice for two years, then joined the Crown Prosecutor's Office in Calgary. In 1975, Mr. Chrumka was appointed Chief Crown Prosecutor of Calgary and the Judicial District of Calgary. In 1976, Mr. Chrumka earned the distinction of being appointed Queen's Counsel. In 1982, he was sworn in as a justice of the Court of Queen's Bench and an ad hoc judge of the Alberta Court of Appeal. In addition, he was later appointed Deputy Judge of the Supreme Courts of Yukon and NWT, and Nunavut Court of Justice. Mr. Chrumka was a faculty member of the Federation of Law Societies National Criminal Law Program from 1974 to 2001.
Mr. Chrumka is a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, both of which recognize outstanding and exemplary contributions to society.
Shirley C. Heafey, B.A., LL.B.
Shirley Heafey has been appointed for a term beginning September 30, 2010 and ending June 30, 2013. She is presently Public Complaint Director and Counsel at the Calgary Police Commission.
Ms. Heafey's career has included the practice of law in the field of employment, labour, human rights, policing and national security dealing with anti-terrorism law. In addition, she has held professional appointments on various municipal and community boards while practicing law in Ontario and has participated as a speaker and presenter to numerous national and international associations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association and the International Association for the Advancement of the Criminal Law.
From 1997 to 2006, Ms. Heafey was twice appointed Chair and CEO of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC), which is a federal administrative tribunal that investigates public complaints and serves as an appeal tribunal for RCMP-led investigations and decisions. For eight years, as Chair, she was responsible for all adjudicative decisions made and all final decisions made for all public hearings, including the APEC hearing in Vancouver that investigated RCMP conduct.
She is an experienced advocate, mediator, negotiator and public speaker who has been successful in promoting and highlighting issues of ethics, justice, fairness and integrity, issues that touch the people of Canada as well as other countries. Ms.Heafey studied at Harvard in the dispute resolution centre and introduced these principles to the RCMP complaints process with considerable success.
Ms. Heafey has dealt extensively with the national and international media, was an advisor to Mr. Justice O'Connor's enquiry team at the Arar Inquiry, and subsequently represented the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in that same Inquiry as well as the Iacobucci Inquiry, both dealing with the imprisonment and torture of four Muslim Canadians in Syria. She has been invited before numerous House of Commons and Senate committees to make presentations about human rights issues as well as issues regarding the health care system in Canada.
Ms. Heafey is a member of the Law Society of Alberta and the Law Society of Upper Canada. She was born in Maniwaki, Quebec, is fluently bilingual and has Aboriginal status as a member of the Native Alliance of Kitchi-Sipi (MikMak). She is the recipient of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding contribution to society and was recently inducted into the Honour Society of Ottawa University Law School for her contributions to national and international human rights.
Moosa Jiwaji, BSc (Hon.), MBA, LL.B.
Moosa Jiwaji has been appointed for a term beginning September 30, 2010 and ending on June 30, 2013. Born in Kenya, Moosa Jiwaji graduated from the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania with an honours degree in Science. He then came to Canada to study for his Master's in Business Administration at the University of Alberta and upon completion, he joined the Alberta Department of Housing as a Policy and Planning Analyst. After a few years with the Department, he decided to study law and graduated from Dalhousie Law School in Halifax in 1990. He articled to the late Justice Harradence of the Alberta Court of Appeal and after his admission to the Law Society of Alberta, Mr. Jiwaji established his own law firm in Edmonton. While in practice, he also obtained his certification in Mediation and Arbitration from the Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society. He has also served on the Board of the Centre for Mediation & Restorative Justice (CMRJC) and is a mediator with the Provincial Civil Law Division.
Mr. Jiwaji is a member of the Law Society Practice Review Committee and has previously served on the Credentials and Education, Family Law Advisory and the Public Education Committees of the Law Society. He is also a member of the Canadian Bar Association and was the Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Northern Section and Vice-Chair of the CBA International Development Section. In 1998, together with other Canadian lawyers, he went on a CBA mission to East Africa to meet with lawyers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Mr. Jiwaji has presented various papers at LESA (Legal Education Society of Alberta) seminars in Family Law and teaches the "Parenting After Separation" course. He has also taught the Chambers Advocacy course to new lawyers.
Sharon V. Lindgren-Hewlett, B.Comm., LL.B.
Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett has been appointed for a term beginning December 15, 2011 and ending December 31, 2014. She is an experienced labour and employment lawyer and mediator and holds Bachelors of Commerce and Laws (Juris Doctor) degrees from the University of Saskatchewan. Ms. Lindgren-Hewlett became a member of the B.C. Law Society in 1992 and the Alberta Law Society in 2000. Her commitment to diversity has been developed from a very young age where travelling internationally became a passion as well as an education.
In 1991, Ms. Lindgren-Hewlett articled and then began private practice with the Vancouver law firm of Swinton & Company and worked on the B.C. Court of Appeal hearing in the landmark Aboriginal title case of Delgamuukw. A two-year stint at the B.C. Labour Relations Board preceded her returning to the prairies where Ms. Lindgren-Hewlett conducted numerous investigations, conciliations and education sessions for the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission (currently named Alberta Human Rights Commission). A commitment to excellent communication as well as extensive training in mediation assisted her in a pilot project with the Alberta Provincial Court where she mediated hundreds of disputes and assisted in numerous mediation training programs.
Ms. Lindgren-Hewlett combined a return to private practice in Calgary at Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer with an executive position on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Subsection and an active membership in the Labour and Employment Law Subsection, both of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. She spent almost six years with United Nurses of Alberta as a Labour Relations Officer then legal counsel where she was counsel at arbitrations, represented nurses at professional regulatory hearings, and sat as an arbitration panel member and decision writer in the capacity of Union Nominee.
Melissa Luhtanen, J.D.
Melissa Luhtanen has been appointed for a term beginning December 15, 2011 and ending on December 31, 2014. Ms. Luhtanen has a Juris Doctor from the University of Calgary. She was called to the bar in Alberta in 2000.
Ms. Luhtanen has twelve years of experience as a conciliator, investigator and educator in the field of human rights. She conducted investigations and conciliations for the Alberta Human Rights Commission up until 2008. Ms. Luhtanen has trained people from different sectors, including business, judiciary, government, and education, on analyzing discrimination and duty to accommodate cases. She has written numerous articles that provide education and information on these topics and other human rights principles.
Ms. Luhtanen has extensive experience using a consensus-based model to chair and facilitate projects with organizations and encourage stakeholders to work together in applying human rights principles. She has been invited to consult with diverse audiences, including judges, corporations, police, teachers, privacy commissioners and policy-makers. Ms. Luhtanen is a recognized expert in the field, and has consulted with many corporations and non-profit organizations on human rights issues. In 2006, Homeland Security invited Ms. Luhtanen to take part as a panelist to advise on human rights and border security issues between the United States and Canada. The panel examined human rights, privacy and other rights affected by border security technology. The outcome was to help inform border security policies for the future.
Ms. Luhtanen has been an invited speaker at conferences across Canada, including the Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners and a seminar for judges at the Court of Queen's Bench,. She was also the keynote speaker at the Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers Conference in 2010.
Ms. Luhtanen presently works for the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) as a researcher and educator. The ACLRC offers plain language information booklets and seminars on the law and human rights. As an educator, Ms. Luhtanen writes research papers for high school audiences and teaches students about human rights. She is currently a member of the Peter Lougheed Ethics Committee. Ms. Luhtanen runs a private practice conducting legal research and providing legal advice on wills and estates.
William D. McFetridge, Q.C., B.A., LL.B., C. Arb.
William McFetridge has been appointed for a term beginning September 30, 2010 and ending June 30, 2013. He received his B.A. from the University of Alberta and his LL.B. from the University of Calgary. He is a Chartered Arbitrator and regularly chairs labour arbitration boards to resolve grievances and collective bargaining disputes in the public and private sectors. He has worked in the industrial relations field for over 30 years and has chaired human rights, interest and rights arbitrations since 1983. He was selected by his peers for inclusion in the publication The Best Lawyers in Canada in the specialty of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
He has been with the Calgary law firm Miles Davison LLP since 1981 and a Partner since 1988. He served on its management committee for 12 years. His practice focuses on labour and employment matters, including advice to individuals and corporations on employment-related matters and litigation of wrongful dismissal disputes.
For a number of years, he was a team leader in the trial advocacy program at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law. He has also served as a guest lecturer/arbitrator in both the Faculties of Law and Business. He is a member of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association and the Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society and taught a number of sections of the A.A.M.S. program to train arbitrators. He is a frequent speaker on employment law issues and has numerous published articles and awards.
Mr. McFetridge is active in the community and provides legal advice on a pro bono basis to several charities and non-profit organizations. He is a past Chairman of the Alberta-NWT-Nunavut Division of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (C.N.I.B.) and has been a CNIB board member for the past 26 years. He is an active volunteer and fund raiser for the Cochrane and Area Humane Society and a marathon runner. He completed the Boston Marathon in 2008.
Brenda F. Scragg, B.A. (Special), LL.B.
Brenda Scragg was first appointed as a member of the Commission in December 2002, and her current term will expire on December 31, 2013.
Ms. Scragg is a Crown Prosecutor with the Grande Prairie Crown Prosecutors' Office and has been so since 1998. Prior to that, she was a sole practitioner for 13 years with the law association of Wadey & Scragg in Grande Prairie, mainly practising in the area of family and child welfare law.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta and a U of A graduate with a B.A. (Special) in History and a LL.B., Ms. Scragg arrived in Grande Prairie in 1984 and, like so many before her, she has adopted the Peace Country not simply as a place to work but as her home and the perfect place to raise her family. She has been involved in varied capacities in community organizations such as the School Council, Swanavon Elementary School; Prairie Art Gallery Society; Grande Prairie Little Theatre, and the Grande Prairie Singers. She continues to be involved as a participant or speaker at events in the Peace Country that address the improvement of and access to our judicial system.
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