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The Rule of Law & Combatting Systemic Discrimination: Policing

April 9th, 2021 from 1:00 to 3:00pm ET

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Speaker Biographies

Julianne C. Dunbar, Senior General Counsel & Director General - Military Police Complaints Commission

Ms. Julianne Dunbar is the Senior General Counsel and Director General of the Military Police Complaints Commission of Canada (MPCC). She has been a member of the MPCC’s legal team since 2001, first as Legal Counsel, then as Senior Counsel in 2006, and General Counsel in July 2007.

In 2017, Ms. Dunbar was appointed as the MPCC’s Senior General Counsel and Director General. She has overall management responsibilities of the MPCC, which includes Operations and Corporate Services. In this capacity, Ms. Dunbar oversees the planning, implementation and delivery of the core business programs, framework, directives, guidelines and services for the MPCC. She oversees conduct complaint reviews/investigations, interference investigations and public interest investigations and hearings, as well as has overall management responsibility for Corporate Services and the provision of Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance, Strategic Planning and Administrative Services and Strategic Communications.

As Senior General Counsel and Director General, Ms. Dunbar ensures quality control over all MPCC decisions for conduct and interference complaints as well as public interest hearings. Ms. Dunbar practices administrative, criminal, military and police ethics law.

Before joining the MPCC, Ms. Dunbar served as Legal Counsel as a Civilian Member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the capacity of Internal Affairs prosecutor. Her professional legal career began as a criminal defence lawyer in the Law Office of Addelman and Mannarino of Ottawa.

Ms. Dunbar completed her university studies at the University of Ottawa, graduating with a Baccalaureate of Social Sciences with a concentration in Criminology (magna cum laude), as well as a Baccalaureate of Laws (magna cum laude). She articled with the Ottawa criminal defence firm of Addelman, Edelson & Meagher and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1997.

Ms. Dunbar also served as a member of the executive of the National Military Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association for four years. Ms. Dunbar currently serves on the Community Advisory Board of the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, the Board of Directors for Crime Prevention Ottawa and the Board of Directors for the International Commission of Jurists.

Chief Peter Sloly, Ottawa Police Service

Peter Sloly was sworn in as the Chief of the Ottawa Police Service on October 28, 2019.

Formerly, Chief Sloly was a partner at Deloitte, where he was the national "Security & Justice" leader and a trusted and respected strategic advisor to private and public sector executives, helping them to increase organizational efficiency as well as to improve public safety, service, trust and value.

Prior to joining Deloitte, Chief Sloly was a 27-year veteran member of the Toronto Police Service who attained the rank of Deputy Chief of Police.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and served two tours of duty in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo.  He has received many awards including: Officer of the Order of Merit “Police Forces” Medal, the United Nations Peacekeeping medal, the Canadian Peacekeeping Medal, the Police Exemplary Service Medal and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. 

Chief Sloly has a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.  In the 1980s, he played professional soccer and was a member of the Canadian Men's National Soccer Team.  He is married with two children. 

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Professor, University of Toronto

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah BA (Carleton) MA, PhD (Toronto) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto and a Senior Fellow at Massey College. He holds Affiliate Scientist status at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and serves as Director of Research for the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty.  Prof. Owusu-Bempah’s work examines the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a particular focus in the area of policing.  His research has recently been published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Race and Justice, and Theoretical Criminology. Prof. Owusu-Bempah began his academic career in the United States at Indiana University, Bloomington. Prior to becoming a professor, he held positions with Canada’s National Judicial Institute, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Prof. Owusu-Bempah is frequently sought out to provide commentary and advice to police agencies, government bodies, community organizations, and media outlets on matters relating to policing, justice and social inequality.

Sunil Gurmukh, Counsel, Ontario Human Rights Commission & Adjunct Research Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University 

Sunil Gurmukh is a lawyer at the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).  Prior to joining the OHRC in 2011, he worked at the African Canadian Legal Clinic as a Staff Lawyer and articled at Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP. He has worked on significant human rights cases at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.   He has a B.Comm. from Queen's University (2005) and an LL.B. from Western University (2008).  He has been recognized for his human rights work as a winner of the 2016 Precedent Setter Award and 2017 Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège Award and member of Bay Street Bull’s 2017 Power 50 Guide.  He was recently named as one of country's top 25 most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services

Christa Big Canoe is a First Nation woman, mother and lawyer. She comes from Georgina Island First Nation, an Anishinabek community. Christa has been a Deputy Clerk of the Court and an Administrative Justice of the Peace in and for the Northwest Territories. Her first legal practice experience was with the First Nation law firm Nahwegahbow, Corbiere in Rama. Christa was Policy Counsel for Legal Aid Ontario and the lead on the organization's province-wide Aboriginal Justice Strategy prior to becoming Aboriginal Legal Services Legal Director. Christa has returned to her position at Aboriginal Legal Services after a two and a half year leave of absence so that she could be senior and then Lead Counsel for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa has been before all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, providing Aboriginal perspective and representation on issues that most impact Aboriginal people in Canadian law. As the Legal Advocacy Director, Christa has also made submissions before Parliamentary and Senate Standing Committees regarding over representationand criminalization of Aboriginal people.Christa is legal counsel to a number of families engaged in the Ontario Coroner’s process and death investigations. Her dedication in advocating on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) is unwavering. She is known as a passionate advocate for First Nation children and women's rights.

Knia Singh, Principal Lawyer of Ma'at Legal Services, Toronto

Knia Singh was born in Toronto to Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Bermudian parents. He earned his Juris Doctor Law Degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2016 after being accepted at the age of 37. Knia was the recipient of the Dean's Gold Key Award and Student Honours Award. Knia co-founded the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice (OSAII), which was instrumental in challenging carding and arbitrary detention across police services in Ontario which led to the creation of O.Reg 58/16.

Knia's law firm MA’AT Legal Services was contracted to provide legal support to students across the GTA that are facing suspension or expulsion in 2017. In addition, Knia was part of PACER, The External Implementation Steering Committee for the Black Youth Action Plan in 2018, ran for federal, provincial and municipal politics with the most recent run in 2018 for Mayor of Toronto.

Currently Knia is part of PACER 2.0 and Co-Chair of the Know Your Rights Committee, is the Principal Lawyer at MA’AT Legal which provides placements for the Ryerson LLP Program, Paralegal and Co-op placements.

Knia received the community service award from the Jamaican Canadian Association in 2016 and was named the Toronto Star person to watch for 2014. Knia also competed at the Hague in the International Criminal Court Moot competition in 2015 and operated a Hip Hop recording studio for over 20 years mentoring youth.

Knia has ran for political office municipally, provincially and federally, most notably running for Mayor in the 2018 Municipal election. Knia was also the first Canadian born Chair of CARIBANA™ from 2013-2016. Knia Singh has a passion for world history, cultures and languages, and strives to promote equality throughout society. Knia presents at various Universities on race relations and notably presented at a United Nations conference at Osgoode Hall in 2017. Knia remains a resource for the LAWS program out of U of T and has his own radio show on Newstalk 1010AM Sundays from 4-5PM.

We welcome anyone who supports human rights, the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary to join. Our success is due to your support and participation!

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