Biographies of members of the Commission

Chief of the Commission and Tribunals: Honourable David Blair Mason, Q.C.

Members of the Commission: 


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 June 30, 2014. 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.

On December 7, 2013,  Mr. Mason was honoured with the conferring of an Aboriginal name, Stamiksotoan (Arriving Buffalo Bull), by Herman Old Yellow Woman under the auspices of the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI) and co-host the Calgary Police Service.

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. 

Members of the Commission

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 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

Joanne Archibald, B.A., LL.B., RPDR
Joanne Archibald has been appointed for a term ending July 24, 2016. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 and a Law degree in 1985, both from the University of Calgary. Ms. Archibald was called to the Alberta Bar in 1986. She also holds the designation of Registered Practitioner in Dispute Resolution from The Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation.

Early in her law career, Ms. Archibald practiced at Shoctor, Mousseau & Starkman in Edmonton. Ms. Archibald then conducted investigations for the Canadian Human Rights Commission where she investigated complaints of discrimination arising under the Canadian Human Rights Act and prepared reports recommending whether to refer cases to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Ms. Archibald served as an Appeal Board Chairperson for the Public Service Commission of Canada, which led to her position as a governor-in-council to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal, where she was one of the five full-time members who conducted hearings to decide issues of abuse of authority in employment matters within the federal public service. As a tribunal member, Ms. Archibald conducted quasi-judicial hearings pursuant to the Public Service Employment Act, and prepared decisions. Ms. Archibald's work has taken her across Canada, including the North, to deal with individuals at all levels of the public service.

As a mediator, Ms. Archibald regularly intervenes in contentious matters to assist the parties in addressing and resolving contextual issues in an informal and meaningful way without resorting to formal process.

Ms. Archibald is a member of the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Council of Administrative Tribunals. Ms. Archibald's extensive community involvement includes volunteering as a mediator with the Provincial Court of Alberta for 10 years.

Catherine Christopher, Q.C., B.A., M.A., LL.B.
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.

Sarah FitzGerald, B.Sc. (Hon.), LL.B.
Sarah FitzGerald has been appointed for a term expiring July 24, 2016.  Ms. FitzGerald received her honours degree in Science (Biology) from the University of Guelph in 1981, and her Law degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1987. 

Ms. FitzGerald was called to the Alberta bar in 1988.  She worked in private practice with Macleod Lyle Smith McManus, after which she joined the Alberta Human Rights Commission as legal counsel.  In 1993, Ms. FitzGerald was appointed as a full-time Member of the Canada Labour Relations Board in Ottawa.  She served in that capacity until 1998 when she returned to Alberta to serve as a part-time Vice-Chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

Ms. FitzGerald is experienced in conducting hearings, decision making, and decision writing. She led sessions on these topics as part of the Canadian Centre for Management Development's annual training of new members of federal tribunals, agencies and commissions. Ms. FitzGerald also holds a Certificate in Arbitration from the Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society.  Her training as part of the Canadian Institute of Applied Negotiation's Alternative Dispute Resolution Certification Program, includes negotiation and mediation. 

Ms. FitzGerald is an active community volunteer and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, recognizing 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 her current term will expire on July 24, 2016. 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.

William J. Johnson, Q.C., B.A. (Distinction), B. Comm. (Distinction), LL.B.
Bill Johnson, Q.C., has been appointed for a term ending July 24, 2016. Mr. Johnson brings with him an established legal career, which includes over 30 years of practice in Alberta in the areas of employment, labour and human rights law.

Mr. Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts (Distinction) degree and Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction) degree, both from the University of Saskatchewan. He received his Law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

Mr. Johnson has been a Partner with the Calgary law firm McGown Johnson since 1982. Mr. Johnson's practice covers employment issues, including significant human rights-related issues in the municipal, provincial and federal public service sectors, as well as matters relating to retail, wholesale, manufacturing, entertainment, public and post-secondary education, health care, transportation, utilities, telecommunications, mining and construction. Mr. Johnson also frequently speaks at conferences on employment law, labour law, human rights and administrative law topics.

In 2002, Mr. Johnson was appointed Queen's Counsel, and in 2011, Mr. Johnson was inducted as a fellow into the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers. He is regularly selected by his peers for inclusion in the publication The Best Lawyers in Canada in the practice area of Labour and Employment Law.

Mr. Johnson was president of the Calgary Immigrant and Education Society for ten years ending in 2012.

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 his current term will expire on July 24, 2016. 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.

Revised: March 20, 2014


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