CCMW Celebration Weekend Plenary Speakers

Justice Feroza Bhabha

Justice Feroza Bhabha was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2006 where she presides over criminal matters. She was the first Muslim judge to be appointed to any court in Ontario; a notable achievement in a predominantly male-dominated profession. Her appointment is instrumental in breaking down racial barriers and paving the way for Muslim women and visible minorities in general who are contemplating a legal career. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Justice Bhabha volunteered her time by engaging in various community projects which included: raising funds for various charities, providing legal advice and support as a Board member of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund; instructing adults in a community-based literacy programme, and reading newspaper and journal articles that were broadcast on radio for the visually impaired.

Justice Bhabha has volunteered with the Ontario Justice Education Network where she occasionally speaks with high school, college and university students about the criminal justice system.

Debbie Douglas

Debbie Douglas is the Executive Director of OCASI – the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Through her work in the NGO sector and particularly at OCASI, Ms. Douglas has highlighted issues of equity and inclusion including race, gender and sexual orientation within the immigration system and promoted the creation of safe, welcoming spaces within the settlement and integration sector. Ms. Douglas worked for many years in frontline, management and executive positions with community based service agencies.

A well-known face in Ontario and across the country, Ms. Douglas is often called upon by governments to share her expertise. She was a member of the provinces’ Expert Panel on Immigration which published the report Routes to Success and led to the province’s first immigration legislation (2015); currently sits as a member of the provincial government’s Income Security Reform Working Group; A member of the Immigration and Refugee Advisory Committee of Legal Aid Ontario and the federal government’s National Settlement Council.

The Honourable Marilou McPhedran

The Honourable Marilou McPhedran is a human rights lawyer, professor and activist, recently appointed as an independent senator in the Parliament of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Marilou was one of the most influential leaders of the 1981 Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution conference – the grass roots social movement of women across Canada resulting in stronger equality rights in the constitution. She co-founded several internationally recognized non-profit Canadian organizations such as the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) which has conducted constitutional equality test cases and interventions for 30-plus years; the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC); and the Gerstein Crisis Centre for homeless discharged psychiatric patients. She was the founding Principal of the University of Winnipeg Global College and has facilitated student access to UN sessions for more than 20 years to provide practical skill building by providing rapporteur services to NGO presentations.

Yasmin Ratansi

Yasmin Ratansi is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Don Valley East. She was first elected to parliament in 2004 and served until 2011. She was re-elected in 2015.

In her tenure from 2004 – 2011, she served in many executive capacities. She was the Liberal Caucus Deputy Whip, Vice Chair of Procedure and House Affairs Committee, Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations, Chair of the Standing Committee on Status of Women and Vice Chair of Public Accounts.

She has authored numerous committee reports, including, Economic Security for Women, Human Trafficking, Gender Budgeting, Accountability and Transparency in Government.

As an activist parliamentarian, she encourages young people to be actively engaged in social justice and civic issues. She works with multi-faith groups in promoting peace, harmony and respect for each other.

Ms. Ratansi is a Fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants (FCPA), a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a recipient of numerous business and professional awards.