Our Board of Directors

Amy Robertson is in her third year of law at Robson Hall at the University of Manitoba, and holds a 4-year BA in Human Rights & Global Studies, and Conflict Resolution Studies. Previously, Amy was an intern and an employee, serving as Education Coordinator, with MARL. Amy is the Founder and Chair of the Robson Hall Human Rights Collective. She has volunteered with the Pro Bono Students Canada, Welcome Place, and Laskin Moot. Amy enjoys researching, developing and facilitating workshops, and policy and advocacy-centred projects. She uses her legal knowledge and research skills on the MARL Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee. 

Russ has been teaching for nine years, four at Gordon Bell and the last five at St. John’s High School. At St. John’s, Russ began teaching Grade 8-12 English Language Arts, but has since been teaching his specialty in Grades 9-12 Social Studies, including Geography, History, and Global Issues, as well as serving as the Humanities Department Head at St. John’s. Russ has previously led a team in the MARL Ethics Bowl. Prior to teaching, Russ worked in finance and in the trucking industry, before beginning teaching at age 36, experiences that have prepared him to be a better teacher. Russ believes strongly in life-long learning, as well as immersing students in hands-on learning resources and opportunities, such as MARL’s educational activities. 

Melanie Beth Oliviero is a senior level strategic advisor with global and grassroots experience offering expertise working with private and public sector to advance strategic planning, organizational development, and advocacy efforts, especially those involving engagement and equity considerations of vulnerable groups.  Most recently, she has provided strategic services to Circles for Reconciliation (Winnipeg), Development Alternatives, Inc. (Bethesda, MD, USA) serving newcomer and Aboriginal communities in Manitoba and leaders of systemic change globally, from right to information advocates in Sri Lanka to agricultural transformation across Sub-Saharan Africa. Melanie’s Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in sociolinguistics and linguistics are from Georgetown University (Washington, DC, USA). On the faculty of the New School (NYC) since 1995, she teaches online courses to adult learners globally on civil society and media, and onsite at schools of business (University of Manitoba), law (Chicago-Kent, Illinois Institute of Technology) and continuing education (University of Winnipeg), as well as facilitating public education for diverse communities.

Evan Maydaniuk, BBA, is the current Past President at the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties. Growing up through MARL's high school programming, he has been with the organization since 2007. Evan came out as a gay man in 2009 at the age of 16. Realizing that there was no support system for the LGBTTQ* youth within his school, he set out to create its first Gay Straight Alliance. He immediately ran into conflict with the school division board office, he did form a GSA and later that year he would help organize his school to march in the Winnipeg Pride Parade. That was the beginning of his LGBTTQ* rights activism. He continued  his work to create safer space for queer people, serving in the past as the Parade & Rally Director with Pride Winnipeg. 

Estelle is a high school dropout who drove a school bus while studying at the University of Winnipeg and being a mom to two wonderful daughters. She also attended Université de Saint-Boniface and University of Manitoba. She has taught at all levels from Grade 5-12 and was privileged to be a school administrator for 18 years. For the last ten years, Estelle has been promoting the educational mandate of MARL in Manitoba. As the former principal of CollègePierre-Elliott-Trudeau, she has experienced firsthand the importance of engaging youth in civil discourse in order to preserve the rights and liberties of all our citizens. At times, world events cause Estelle to create community events that provide individuals with differing points of views a chance to discuss and find common ground. She loves nothing more than meeting new people and inviting them into the MARL family.

After learning and teaching for over 3 decades in the classroom, Linda continues to learn and work as the Social Studies Consultant for Manitoba Education and Training. In addition to co-authoring the grade 11 Canadian history textbook, Shaping Canada, Linda contributed to the grade 7 social studies textbook, The World Today, and the grade 9 civics textbook, Canada in the Contemporary World. Linda is also committed to building a culture of peace and promoting Human Rights through her work as the Provincial Coordinator for UNESCO schools and as a representative on the Speaker’s Bureau for the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.

Emily works as a practical philosopher and owns LifeWise Philosophical Counselling, located in the Birch Wellness Centre in downtown Winnipeg. Before opening LifeWise, Emily taught courses in the philosophy and political studies departments at the University of Manitoba. Emily is a certified member of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, an associate of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, a member of the Manitoba Association of Playwrights, and she serves on the National Ethics Bowl committee to promote critical discussion in Canadian High Schools.

Robert is a lawyer in private practice, working primarily in the areas of civil litigation and administrative law. He earned a B.A. (Honours) from the University of Manitoba in 2008, and a M.A. from the University of Guelph in 2010. The focus of his historical studies was radical social movements amongst the working classes; to that end, his graduate work focused on popular proto-working-class resistance against raising food prices inn 1790s Britain. After a few years working in IT, he attended and graduated from Robson Hall, Robert served on the board and was and editor of The Canadian Journal of Human Rights, and took interest in access to justice. He articled at the Public Interest Law Centre, an office of Legal Aid Manitoba that focuses on litigation concerning the environment, human rights, Indigenous persons, and consumers and low income persons. He was called to the bar in June 2018. When not working, he enjoys watching films and almost any sport known to humankind. 

Mia Bastien is part of the inaugural class of the Master of Human Rights at the University of Manitoba where she is completing her studies and simultaneously working at the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. Her work and volunteer experience are a reflection of Mia’s dedication to the community. Mia has been committed to serving her local community through her work in the non-profit sector by serving newcomers and refugees at Westman Immigrant Services, where her work received national recognition. Mia has also served as a board member at the Women’s Resource Centre which is focused on providing services to address issues affecting women and families. As a board member she was dedicated to the success of an organization that provides essential services that include counselling, advocacy, legal clinics and wellness programs. Through all her work, Mia is committed to advocacy and greater public education of human rights.

Izzeddin Hawamda was born and raised in a rural village just outside of the city of Nablus in the West Bank, Palestine. He has lived in Canada for over 15 years and currently works as a high school teacher. He is currently working toward a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba. Izzeddin, along with Jewish-Canadian, and Quaker colleagues, is a co-founder of Gaser and has been speaking publicly about the power of dialogue and the importance of sharing, listening, and respecting diverse perspectives and narratives. Izzeddin is also working to develop opportunities for Indigenous students and newcomer students to share spaces and stories in an effort to build bridges and break down the barriers. 

Jessica da Silva has a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Escola Superior de Administração e Marketing, Brazil. She has been volunteering and employed with the charitable and non-profit sector, focusing on youth, women’s issues, and community building. She is currently working at Youth Agencies Alliance (YAA). YAA is a collective voice that strengthens and enhances the capacity of youth-serving agencies in Winnipeg. Jessica believes that in order to create a more equitable and just society, we need to rethink and reconstruct our social norms, institutions, and relations. Because they were built on ideologies (i.e. capitalism, racism, patriarchy, Christianity) that foments gender, economic and racial inequalities, discrimination, and violence around the globe. Accordingly, she wants to be an active member and supporter of organizations, programs, initiatives, and movements that transcend our so-called normal, creating a society that prioritizes equality, respect for nature and all forms of life, and a better future for everyone. To do so, we need to put human rights at the centre of our decision-making process, recognizing that the inherent dignity and the access to equal and inalienable rights to all is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace.

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