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April 8, 2021, 3:00 am - 4:00 am

On Thursday, April 8, BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) is hosting “Meet B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner: A chat about human rights and the grandmother perspective.”

We invite you to bring a warm drink and snack to tune into a chat between Kasari Govender, B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner, Sharon Thira, BCOHRC’s Executive Director of Education and Engagement, Elder Shane Pointe of the Musqueam Nation, and Elder Barb Ward-Burkitt of the Fort McKay Nation. The Commissioner looks forward to sharing how her experiences with family and other caring relationships ground her interest in human rights. By centering the grandmother perspective, the chat will discuss the importance of human rights for Indigenous Peoples.

Event details:

  • Date: Thursday, April 8, 2021
  • Time: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT
  • Method: Virtual, via Facebook Live
  • How to join the event:
    • If you have a Facebook account, click here to RSVP for the event
    • If you don’t have a Facebook account, click here to watch the event live
    • If you need to join the event via toll-free phone number instead of through Facebook Live, follow the steps below.

How to join via toll-free phone number instead of through Facebook Live: At 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 8, call 855-703-8985. When the voice prompts you for a Meeting ID, enter 917 3894 2891#. When the voice prompts you for a Participant ID, just enter #.

Please email Emily Chan, Research and Engagement Coordinator, at engagement@bchumanrights.ca or contact us on our toll-free number at 1-844-922-6472 with questions.


A note on accessibility:

Closed captioning will be available at this event.


About the speakers

Kasari Govender

B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner

Kasari Govender (she/her) took office as B.C.’s first independent Human Rights Commissioner on September 3, 2019. Her role is to lead the promotion and protection of human rights in British Columbia through the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner.

Govender has devoted her life to promoting human rights, with a focus on the rights of those most marginalized. From 2008 until 2019, Govender held leadership positions at West Coast LEAF, including as Executive Director from 2011. Earlier work includes pivotal roles in establishing the Rise Women’s Legal Centre, a nonprofit legal clinic in British Columbia.

Govender earned her law degree from the University of Victoria and her Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford, U.K. She has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia and as an instructor at Simon Fraser University. In 2019, her work was recognized by the Women Lawyer’s Forum with their Award of Excellence. In addition to her role as Human Rights Commissioner, Govender is a mother, an aunt, a daughter and a sister.

Sharon Thira

Executive Director, Education & Engagement, BC’s Office of the Human Right Commissioner

Where do I belong? Sharon (she/they) has long been trying to answer this question in her 34 years of working. In community through residential school and education work, in family sometimes by running away but also by studying psychology, on planet through respectful living and beauty and art. The answer she is coming to understand is in the trying. It lies in the relationships that hold you together, on the land where your foot falls sometimes wet and oozy, and inside when you face your imperfection, my imperfection. This we have in common. Working on finding our way back to each other is what inspires my work now. That and my daughters and cake.

Elder Barb Ward-Burkittt

Fort McKay Nation

“…Wahiyow CaWapata Scoo…” (Sees Far Woman), also known as Barbara Ward-Burkitt.  Barb received the Order of British Columbia on October 20, 2010.

Barb is of Cree ancestry from the Fort McKay First Nation in Northern Alberta and has resided in different Northern BC communities for most of her life.  As the Executive Director of Canada’s largest Friendship Centre, she has provided leadership in a manner that is motivating and inspiring not only to staff but to grassroots community members.  Her 40+ years of commitment to the Friendship Centre movement reflects her own personal philosophy of empowerment of Indigenous people and advocacy for community growth.

Her nurturing leadership style has been part of many planning tables nationally, provincially, and locally for the advancement of issues that impact Indigenous children, families, and communities. Her passion is only matched by her commitment professionally and as a volunteer in our community.

Recently, through her tireless efforts in a sometimes adversarial environment, Barb was instrumental in addressing homelessness through long term and sustainable solutions by establishing supportive housing facilities in our community.  The development of Tse’Koo Huba Yoh, an Indigenous women’s housing program and Friendship Lodge, a 30-unit coed housing initiative, has addressed the needs of many Indigenous people in Prince George that were not being met.  Throughout the duration of each of these projects, Barb led the way with an open mind and honour for those who were most vulnerable and had the most at stake.  Her engagement style with community often lead to mutual learning experiences and brought peaceful consultation to mitigate issues that may have been viewed contentious by some by fostering bridges of understanding.

Barb believes very strongly in life-long learning and education, in fact, she graduated in September 2001 from Simon Fraser University with her Master of Education degree, with a major in Administration & Leadership and a minor in Curriculum Development & Instruction. Barb is very proud of her Cree ancestry and being a role model to her two children and eighteen grandchildren, five of which her and husband Jim have been raising for the past eighteen years (Nick – 28, Dylan – 24, Shakira – 19, Max – 17 and Anthony – 12). She feels that we all learn while we are experiencing life, and that the balance of experiential, academic, traditional, and cultural learning will revitalize our inner spirit. It is that inner spirit that will help us learn to walk and think on our own, to become the very best person we can be.

Elder Shane Pointe

Musqueam Nation

Shane Pointe is a proud member of the Salish Nation, Pointe Family and equally proud member of the Musqueam Indian Band.

Shane has worked over the past fifty years helping Indigenous students in four different school districts and for 10 years provided support for Indian residential school survivors. He has provided advice and support to the federal government, provincial government and municipal governments as well.

Shane continues to provide emotional spiritual and ceremonial support to family friends and others.

His motto is Nutsamaht! (We are one)