Community Advisory Group
The Review's Terms of Reference provide for the engagement of a Community Advisor to assist with the design and implementation of the community consultations. The Terms of Reference also provide for the establishment of a Community Advisory Group representing affected communities to ensure that the community perspective is adequately considered throughout the Review's consultations. The Community Advisory Group's mandate does not include fact-finding, the interviewing of witnesses or examination of confidential documents.
Ron Rosenes is a highly respected community leader, health advocate, researcher and consultant, working primarily in HIV and the LGBTQ community. He has served on the Boards of many local and national organizations and is passionate about the systemic and structural issues that make people vulnerable to HIV and other forms of exclusion. After the death of his partner of 15 years in 1991, Ron became involved with the Boards of the AIDS Committee of Toronto, AIDS ACTION NOW!, the Sherbourne Health Centre and the Canadian Treatment Action Council. Ron has served on advisory committees for Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS. He holds a B.A. (Honours) in French and Russian from Carleton University, and a M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature, University of Toronto. In 2012, he was awarded an LL.D (Hon.) by Carleton University. In 2015, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his voluntarism and advocacy in HIV.
"What drives me is a desire to understand and address the social and economic issues that put people at risk for HIV. All too often they involve poverty and power imbalance."
Haran Vijayanathan is the Executive Director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), an organization committed to providing culturally responsive holistic health and support services for South Asian and Middle Eastern community members at risk of or affected by HIV. In 2011, he founded My House: Rainbow Resources of York Region, a resource centre allowing those who identify as LGBTQ2S to gather in a safe and inclusive space. He has performed volunteer work for the Winnipeg Zoo, Nine Circles Community Health Centre, Tamil Service Providers Council, the Don Jail, as well as committees and working groups that look at diversity and inclusivity. In 2018, Haran served as Grand Marshal of Pride Toronto. He has provided much needed support to grieving families of deceased community members named in this systemic Review’s Terms of Reference.
"I am grateful for this appointment as it allows me to look at the issues at hand, offer community informed critical feedback and ensure systems have better ways of working with marginalized communities around missing persons and policing."
Christa Big Canoe
Christa Big Canoe is an Indigenous lawyer known for her work as Legal Advocacy Director for Aboriginal Legal Services and as an advocate for Indigenous women and children. She is a mother and a member of Georgina Island First Nation, an Anishinabek community in Ontario. While at Legal Aid Ontario, she led the province-wide Aboriginal Justice Strategy aimed at removing barriers to accessing justice for First Nation, Métis and Inuit people. Ms. Big Canoe has represented survivors of violence in various capacities, and her experience includes inquest work. She represented six of the seven families of the students (“the Fallen Feathers”) whose deaths were subject to an inquest in Thunder Bay, leading to important recommendations for change. All of the students came to the city from remote First Nations to attend high school. Ms. Big Canoe is currently lead counsel for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The Inquiry’s report is to be completed by April 30, 2019.
"I hope that my contribution assists in understanding the need to move past colonial practices and false assumptions when investigating missing Indigenous people so that discriminatory beliefs do not negatively impact decisions during investigations."
Monica Forrester is a 2 Spirit Trans woman of colour who has worked within the Trans/Sexwork community’s grassroots programs for 20 years and worked on Trans led initiatives in Toronto. Currently, Monica is Program Coordinator at Maggie's Toronto Sex workers Action Project and also Executive Director and Founder of Trans Pride Toronto that has been bringing inclusion, awareness and equality to Trans and larger LGBTQ2S+ non-binary communities since 2004. She was a member of the initial working group that recommended the creation of this systemic review.
"My appointment to the community advisory group has reaffirmed my commitment to bring a better understanding of how marginalized Trans, 2S, and LGBTQ sex workers may experience systemic issues. Through this appointment, I will highlight in depth some of these systemic issues that many community members I represent experience daily within their lives and what steps need to be taken to better support and serve these communities."
Brian W. Lennox
Justice Lennox is a per diem judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. He was Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice from 1999 to 2007 and, from 2007 to 2014, Executive Director of the National Judicial Institute. He holds a B.A. from York University, an LL.B. from the University of Toronto, a graduate degree in criminal law (Diplôme d’études supérieures de sciences criminelles) from the University of Paris and an LL.D. (Hon.) from the Law Society of Upper Canada. Called to the bar in 1975, he practiced law in the city of Ottawa with the firm of Paris, Mercier, Sirois, Paris & Bélanger, was appointed an Assistant Crown Attorney in 1978, and a judge of the Provincial Court (Criminal Division) in 1986. He was appointed a Regional Senior Judge of the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) in 1990 and Associate Chief Judge in 1995. Justice Lennox has taught and lectured in the areas of judicial education, criminal law, advocacy and court administration.
Michele Lent spent 26 years as a member of the New York Police Department (NYPD) in progressively senior roles and retired as a Deputy Inspector in 2007. In her last five years, she was the Commanding Officer of the Specialized Training Section of the New York Police Academy overseeing training for 17,000 uniformed police officers and 8,000 civilians. Michele helped design the City Incident Management System training program for New York City as required by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) training protocol. After leaving the NYPD, she trained thousands of officers nationally in the NIMS as well as officers in second and third world countries in emergency management and investigation techniques. She is a lifetime member of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) and marched in the New York City Pride parade both as a lieutenant and captain. Michele was also the Vice President of the Police Women’s Endowment Association that focused on ensuring gender parity in all aspects of policing. She lives in Toronto with her partner Deb.
"I believe that law enforcement is about service and safety for everyone equally. If I can quote another person, I would quote Gandi, “Truth never damages a cause that is just."
The Honourable Mr. Justice Andrew Pinto was a member of the Community Advisory Group until his appointment to the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in February 2020. The Review is grateful for his important contribution to its work. His biography while serving as a member of the Community Advisory Group included the following:
Andrew Pinto practiced law with Pinto James LLP in Toronto in the areas of civil litigation, workplace and administrative law. He has been recognized in Best Lawyers in Canada (Administrative and Public Law) and as a Leading Practitioner by Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory (Employment Law, Workplace Human Rights). Andrew is currently the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Law Commission of Ontario, Ontario’s leading law reform agency. Andrew has taught administrative law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and is a past Chair of the Equity Advisory Group of the Law Society of Ontario. In 2011-12, Andrew was appointed by the Attorney General of Ontario to conduct a major review of the changes to Ontario’s human rights system. His report and recommendations were released in November 2012. Andrew received the South Asian Bar Association’s inaugural “Lawyer of the Year” award in November 2008 and Windsor Law School’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018.
"There are all sorts of reasons why people go missing but with such diverse skills and experiences on the Advisory Group, I’m confident that we can assist the Review in its important work of improving the process and outcomes for missing persons investigations, no matter the person’s background or circumstance."
Angela Robertson is the Executive Director of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. Parkdale is a community-based health service organization serving south-west Toronto. Angela is dedicated to people and communities facing discrimination, poverty and marginalization. Beginning in the 1990s, Robertson worked as an editor of social issues manuscripts at Women’s Educational Press, served as an adviser to the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, was a manager at Homes First Society and the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, and was the Executive Director of Sistering – A Woman’s Place for more than a decade. Sistering provides support and services for homeless and at risk women, many of whom are racialized. She is a founding member of Blockorama, which focuses on forging a space for racialized people at Pride. She has also worked as the Director of Equity and Community Engagement at Women’s College Hospital.
"I look forward to supporting the Review in informing how missing persons investigations might be improved. I have seen in my work how assumptions about people who are homeless, substance-using, low-income and racialized can impact investigations of their disappearance."