We used to be CCLISAR, the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response.
Now we're Watershed Legal Projects.
Still dedicated to transforming our legal systems' responses to sexualized violence.
Welcome to Watershed.
Board of Directors
Chair of the Board
Kim Brooks is the Dean of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie. She previously served as the Purdy Crawford Chair in Business Law at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University and as Dean of the School from 2010 to 2015. She is a director of several other organizations, former Chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (2005-2009) and former co-chair of the National Association of Women and the Law (2000-2005).
Jocelyn Downie is a University Research Professor in the Faculties of Law and Medicine at Dalhousie University. She is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Andrus on Hudson and the Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation.
Prof. Michelle Williams B.S.W. (Dal), LL.B. (Tor), LL.M. (NYU) is the Director of the Indigenous Blacks and Mi’kmaq (IB&M) Initiative at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University where she teaches criminal law and “African Nova Scotians and the Law”, and has served as an academic researcher on restorative justice. She is a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Race Equity Committee and the African Nova Scotian Access to Justice Judicial Committee, and helps to coordinate the Nova Scotia Judicial Mentorship Initiative. She is an active member of the African Nova Scotian UN Decade for People of African Descent (ANSDPAD) Coalition and Chairs the Coalition Committee on Legal Recognition for African Nova Scotians. In 2017, then Dalhousie University President Richard Florizone appointed Prof. Williams as co-lead of the university’s strategic priority on equity, diversity and inclusiveness, and she is currently leading the development of an African Nova Scotian Strategy for Dalhousie. Awards include the Dalhousie Law Students’ Society and Alumni Association Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Law (2015); and the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) Pathfinder Award (2011). Under Prof. Williams’ leadership, the IB&M Initiative has received the Lexpert Zenith Award (2016), the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Excellence in Education (2014), and the Canadian Bar Association Touchstone Award (2010)
Director of Capacity Building
Joanna Birenbaum is a litigator with expertise in gender equality and violence against women. Joanna has extensive experience in constitutional litigation, civil sexual assault claims, defending anti-slapp malicious prosecution and defamation claims targeting women who have reported violence, and representing women who have experienced harassment and discrimination in employment. Joanna prosecutes, including sexual abuse claims, for a regulated health college in Ontario and supports complainants before other professional discipline bodies. Joanna’s advocacy in this area also includes human rights tribunal claims, university tribunal and Criminal Injuries Compensation Board hearings, and supporting complainants through the criminal justice process. She has been a McMurtry Fellow at Osgoode as well as adjunct faculty at Osgoode teaching Law, Gender, Equality and co-directing Osgoode’s Feminist Legal Advocacy: Ending Violence Against Women clinical program. Joanna has lectured and published in the area of violence against women and women’s equality rights.
Director of Research
Elaine Craig is a Professor of Law at Dalhousie University. She has researched and published extensively on sexual assault law in Canada. Dr. Craig is the author of Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession (2018 McGill-Queens) and Troubling Sex: Towards a Legal Theory of Sexual Integrity (2012, UBC Press). She has testified before Senate and House of Commons Standing Committees on proposed law reforms to the criminal law of sexual offences and is a regular public commentator on legal responses to sexualized violence.
Director of Engagement
Amanda Dale is an international human rights activist specializing in access to justice and women's human rights. Best known for her decade as the Executive Director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, she is currently faculty at the Women's Human Rights Institute, Chair of the Board of Inter Pares, and a member of the Expert Advisory Panel of the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. Her leadership was pivotal to the Jane Doe Audit of Toronto Police sexual assault investigations, the successful restriction of the use of religious arbitration in the settlement of family law matters in Ontario, and the development of a women’s shelter in the Arctic. Amanda holds a Master’s in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford and a Ph.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School.
Director of Communications and Convening
Sonia Lawrence is Associate Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her work centres on the critical analysis of the legal conception of equality. Her research interests include gender, race, critical race feminism, feminism, equality law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Professor Lawrence served as the Director of Osgoode’s Institute for Feminist Legal Studies for over a decade until 2020, and has also served as the Director of Osgoode’s Graduate Program and Associate Dean First Year. Professor Lawrence clerked for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada and pursued graduate work at Yale Law School.
Professor Sharon Cowan completed an LLB (Hons) from Strathclyde University, and an MPhil in Criminology from the University of Cambridge. She undertook two years as a researcher at the London School of Economics before going on to complete a PhD at Brunel University, London. Sharon was a lecturer at the University of Warwick for three years prior to her arrival at Edinburgh. She joined the University of Edinburgh in 2004. Her research interests include: Gender, Sexuality and the Law; Feminist Legal Theory; Criminal Law; Criminal Justice; Asylum studies. Recent projects include a national empirical project, along with Helen Baillot of the Scottish Refugee Council, and Vanessa Munro of the University of Nottingham, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, looking at the the way in which women asylum claimaints whose applications are based on a claim of rape, are treated by the Asylum and Immigration Appeal Tribunal. Sharon is presently working on a comparative socio-legal project looking at the impact of law on transgender people. Along with Dr Chloe Kennedy (Edinburgh) and Professor Munro (Warwick), she is a co-editor of the new Scottish Feminist Judgments Project @ScottishFemJP. Sharon sits on the editorial boards of the following journals: Social and Legal Studies, and Law and Society Review. She is an external reviewer for Irish Research Council, and is also a member of the Advisory Board for the UK based projects: The Future of Legal Gender (FLaG) (@FutureGender); and CILIA-LGBTQI+ (https://www.surrey.ac.uk/centre-research-ageing-gender/cilia-lgbtq-study).
Elizabeth Grace is a partner of the law firm Lerners LLP, where she has practiced civil litigation since her call to the Ontario bar in 1995. She has a diverse practice that includes work in the areas of sexual abuse and institutional liability. She is co-author of the book Civil Liability for Sexual Abuse and Violence in Canada (Butterworths, 2000), and has authored many publications and been a speaker on a variety of topics relevant to sexualized misconduct. Elizabeth was part of the working group that drafted the Law Society of Ontario’s Guide for the Provision of Legal Services in Cases Involving Claims of Sexual Abuse (adopted by Convocation in 2012). She co-presented a submission to the Ontario Legislature’s Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment in May 2015 entitled “Returning Ontario to the Forefront of the Effort to Eradicate Sexual Violence and Harassment” that proposed legislative reforms. She was a plenary speaker at the “It’s Never Okay” 2015 Summit on Sexual Violence and Harassment in Toronto sponsored by the Ontario Wynne government. In 2014, she was recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers by the Canadian Lawyer Magazine. Since 2016, she has been selected by her peers, on an annual basis, for inclusion in The Best Lawyer in Canada for Personal Injury Litigation. Elizabeth is presently serving a term as a member of the Board of Governors of the Law Commission of Ontario (2018 to 2021).
Deepa is Executive Director at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. Before joining the Schlifer Clinic, Deepa was Project Co-ordinator, Staff Lawyer and Executive Director at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario. In her role at the Schlifer Clinic, Deepa oversees the Clinic's strategic direction and provides leadership to the legal, counselling and interpretation services. Also, Deepa is directly involved in three critical projects related to the criminalization of women and the risk assessment of gender-based violence. Deepa is an Adjunct and Visiting Faculty at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. In 2017, Deepa was appointed Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School for her role as the Co-Director of the Feminist Advocacy Program, hosted at the Schlifer Clinic. Deepa was the Law Foundation of Ontario's 2017 Community Leadership in Justice Fellow at Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. She has trained thousands of service providers for best practices and legal education to work with forced marriage survivors, racialized non-status women, and immigration law clients in the context of gender-based violence. Deepa has appeared before parliamentary committees and commissions on a wide range of social justice and human rights issues and has represented hundreds of clients at multiple tribunals and courts in numerous jurisdictions.
Naiomi is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Gespe’gewa’gi. She is an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, where she holds the Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy. She holds a BA (Dalhousie), an LLB (Dalhousie), an LLL (Ottawa) and an LLM (Osgoode). She was also a law clerk to the Hon. Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006-2007. Naiomi has published and presented on such topics as Aboriginal rights, Indian Act by-laws, essential services in First Nations communities and the linguistic rights of Indigenous peoples. She still continues to practice law with Burchells LLP in Halifax (where she practised for nearly a decade before joining the law school, primarily in the firm’s Aboriginal law group). She has been named to the Best Lawyer in Canada® list in Aboriginal law since 2015 and was chosen for Canadian Lawyers’ Magazine 2018 Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in the area of Human Rights, Advocacy and Criminal law. As a legal scholar, she is most interested in writing about how the law can be harnessed to promote the well-being and self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Val Napoleon is the Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice and Governance, the Director of the JID/JD (Dual Indigenous and Common Law Degree Program) and the Indigenous Law Research Unit (https://ilru.ca/) and the Provost’s Engaged Community Scholar in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. She is also an Indigenous People’s Counsel with the Indigenous Bar Association. Val’s current research focuses on Indigenous legal traditions, legal theories, feminisms, citizenship, self-determination, and governance. Several of her major initiatives include establishing and directing the Indigenous Law Research Unit, and developing and directing the JID (dual JD and indigenous law degree) program launched in September 2018. She works with numerous Indigenous community partners across Canada on a range of Indigenous law research projects (e.g., Indigenous water law, harms and injuries, gender in Indigenous law, and lands and resources) and also with several national and international Indigenous law research initiatives. Some of the courses she teaches are Indigenous feminist legal studies, Gitxsan land law, property and transsystemic property, Indigenous legal theories, and Indigenous legal methodologies. Val is from Saulteau First Nation (BC Treaty 8) and is an adopted member of the House of Luuxhon, Ganada, from Gitanyow (northern Gitxsan).
Robert Seymour Wright is a Social Worker and Sociologist whose 29 year career has spanned the fields of education, child welfare, forensic mental health, trauma, sexual violence, and cultural competence. A “clinician/academic/administrator,” he has always integrated his work delivering direct practice clinical service to clients with teaching and supervising interns, and promoting lasting systemic change through social policy advocacy. He also consults, trains, speaks and comments on a wide range of issues. His extensive pro bono work gave birth to The Peoples' Counselling Clinic, a non-profit mental health clinic. His pioneering work with colleagues in cultural competence and conducting cultural assessments has received national attention.