As members of Canadian society, we are all treaty peoples. I acknowledge that the land on which I live and work today is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy. The land and water of the Straits of Detroit have been home to many nations, including Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee and Wendat peoples and is today home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis. People from all over the world have come to Canada and enrich our society, culture and values.
I graduated from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law’s National Program in 2003. The National Program provides students with degrees in both Civil Law (LL.L) and Common Law (LL.B). While studying, I worked seasonally as a student customs officer in Windsor, Ontario with the then Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (today the Canada Border Services Agency). Having grown up in Windsor, the border was a part of our daily lives and this experience gave me an understanding of the workings of an international border crossing.
In 2004, I attended the University of Cape Town in South Africa where I studied for a Master of Laws degree (LL.M) with a specialization in Criminal Justice. I graduated from that program in 2005 and returned to Canada to complete my articles with the Crown Attorney’s office in Windsor, Ontario. It was in Cape Town, however, that I had my first experience working in a legal clinic. I volunteered with the Refugee Rights Project at the University of Cape Town for nearly one year. This clinic provides legal advice and assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and other non-nationals in the Cape peninsula and surrounding areas. Not only did I learn the basics of refugee law, but I was able to learn about the fundamentals of social justice from dedicated public interest lawyers.
After my call to the bar as a lawyer with the Law Society of Upper Canada (today the Law Society of Ontario) in July 2006, I returned to South Africa through the Young Lawyers International Program funded through the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. I was placed with Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in Johannesburg. I did not realize at the time that LHR would become my home for the next 10 years.
I worked in LHR’s Refugee and Migrant Rights program with a focus on immigration detention. I visited the Lindela Holding Centre near Johannesburg on a near weekly basis and consulted with detainees concerning their rights under detention. We turned more and more to the High Court of South Africa to challenge unlawful detention practices in Lindela and other places of immigration detention. Some of our cases were heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court of South Africa. In 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled the detention provisions of the Immigration Act unconstitutional and ordered changes to ensure judicial oversight.
In 2008, I was appointed as the program manager for LHR’s Strategic Litigation Program. In this role, I was involved in a number of high profile cases in the field of refugee rights, extradition, international criminal justice, the international arms trade and access to justice. However, I maintained my interest in immigration detention and refugee rights issues. I completed a South African law degree at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 2012.
I have published papers and contributed chapters to the two leading textbooks on immigration and refugee law in South Africa as well as a case study on immigration detention in Canada:
I returned to Canada and began practicing in Canadian immigration and refugee law from May 2017 in Toronto, Ontario in association with lawyer Subodh Bharati. I was fortunate to spend one year working with the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) assisting persons living with HIV and their families obtain immigration status in Canada. Today, my areas of practice include immigration detention, refugee claims, enforcement proceedings and federal court litigation. I continue to work with South African colleagues on issues pertaining to South African refugee law and human rights in Africa, particularly with the Public Interest Practice.
I am a lawyer in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario and a member of the Refugee Lawyers Association, the Canadian Bar Association and the Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario (AJEFO) . I have over fifteen years of experience in domestic and international migration law. I look forward to assisting you make a life in Canada!
Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, ON and Detroit, MI