Tag Archives: METRAC

Reclaiming our Narratives: Conversations on Gender and Racial Profiling in Toronto

GRP - PosterThis event has been fully booked for a while.  It’s tomorrow at Osgoode, organized by a dynamic group of women and a great collection of organizations (see below for a complete list).  IFLS is pleased to be a sponsor of this event and once the post-event report is finished, we’ll hope to have it available on this blog.

You can find a full description of the event below – or click here for a program in pdf.

Reclaiming Our Narratives: Conversations on Gender and Racial Profiling in Toronto 

Saturday, November 28, 2015, 9:30AM to 6:30PM

We all seem to be talking about racial profiling – from lawyers to police officers; from the media to politicians; from people who are profiled every day to those who have never been subject to the experience. But what aren’t we talking about when we talk about racial profiling?
Join us on November 28, 2015, as we discuss the many ways gender impacts racial profiling. We will highlight the often silenced stories of women, girls and trans people, and their experiences with racial profiling — whether at the border or in jails, whether it’s the direct experience of being profiled or the indirect experience of parents and supporters of those who are profiled.

10:00am: Keynote 11:00am: Police brutality and incarceration 12:00pm: Border policing 1:00pm: Lunch & free clothing bank provided by Windfall Clothing 2:00pm: Racial profiling and reproductive justice 3:00pm: Youth experiences 4:00pm: Closing plenary: remedies and resistance
We know these conversations can be traumatizing for people who are forced to live with the experience of being profiled. We will strive to create a safe and accessible space for speakers, facilitators, and attendees by providing the following services throughout the conference:
active listeners and/or counsellors; ASL language interpretation; child-minding;  Halal food options; gender-neutral washrooms;  room accessibility for mobility devices and tokens for transportation support.
A final report detailing the conference will be produced and distributed. We will also explore other ways to share the event’s key insights.
Organizing Partners:
This event is the collective effort of a number of people and organizations, including
Across Boundaries (rep: Idil Abdillahi); Andrea Anderson, PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University; Anti-Black Racism Network (rep: Idil Abdillahi); Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (rep: Fathima Cader); Harmony Movement (rep: Brittany Andrew-Amofah); METRAC (rep: Jessica Mustachi); Network to Eliminate Police Violence (rep: Kimalee Phillip)


Today: METRAC at Osgoode (Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes)

METRAC4thFebJoin us today for the second in this IFLS series

Community, connections, commitment: Conversations at Osgoode
Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes of METRAC
Tuesday February 4th 1230-230 in Osgoode Hall 2027 (Faculty Lounge)

Legal Director Tamar Witelson & Legal Information Coordinator Joanna Hayes work for one of Toronto’s most dynamic and community engaged agencies. METRAC is a non-profit committed to the rights of women and children to live their lives free of violence and the threat of violence. METRAC also has not one but TWO legal information websites: Ontario Women’s Justice Network (OWJN) www.owjn.org and Family Law Education for Women (FLEW) www.onefamilylaw.ca
Joanna & Tamar will discuss the work METRAC does, how they work together, their career paths, and what working in the not-for-profit sector is like. Poster available here.

From our last session, with Farrah Khan and Deepa Mattoo (click here for more)

I really enjoyed today’s conversation. It was one of the best lunch hour talks I have been to at Osgoode. I appreciated the nuance, sensitivity, and palpable commitment Farrah and Deepa exhibited towards their advocacy and work. (Osgoode 3L)
It’s so rare to hear dialogue that’s both interesting and truly candid. I felt like I got a real glimpse into the work they’re doing, and what is at stake in current feminist legal activism. It also helped me think about what the current needs are in Toronto, and how I could envision responding to them. (Osgoode 1L)

Joanna Hayes is a lawyer and the Legal Information Coordinator for METRAC’s Community Justice Program, where she is responsible for developing and delivering accessible legal information and public legal education for women and youth affected by violence. She has a varied legal background, having worked in many social justice and public interest legal organizations with a focus on immigrant and refugee rights, women’s rights, and increasing access to justice. Before joining METRAC, she articled with the Ministry of the Attorney General, where she assisted counsel at the Ministry of Labour with prosecutions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act. Joanna has worked at the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario providing legal research and policy recommendations on whistleblowing legislation. She has also done legal work in Kenya to increase access to justice for marginalized groups and in South Africa with respect to the rights of women and girls, intimate partner violence and sexual offences.

Tamar Witelson is the Legal Director at METRAC, heading METRAC’s Community Justice Program, which develops and delivers in-person, online and printed legal information and education to community support workers, and to women who have experienced abuse and violence. Tamar develops and delivers training, and has presented at seminars and conferences about human rights and diversity issues. Tamar’s legal background has spanned the public and private spheres, with a focus on equality and human rights law. Before joining METRAC, Tamar was staff lawyer at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), where she launched an equality rights website for legal news and analysis. She has served as Counsel at the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, and as Counsel at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, working on the transition to the Tribunal’s current direct access model. She also had a private practice in union-side labour and human rights law, following her Clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada. Before becoming a lawyer, Tamar worked for twelve years in television news, political and current affairs.

Community, connections, commitment: Conversations at Osgoode


This semester we are bringing some of the people who do front line work with gender issues in Toronto to Osgoode.   Join us for these discussions about work, careers, challenges and choices (each with one lawyer and one “non lawyer”) – we will leave plenty of time for your questions.  Tuesday Jan 21 and Tues Feb 4, 1230-230.

Tuesday January 21 1230-230 in 2027

Farrah Khan & Deepa Mattoo

Hear Deepa Mattoo (staff lawyer at South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario) & Farrah Khan (counselor at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic for women who have experienced violence, artist, and educator) talk about their work with women in the GTA’s South Asian communities, advocacy inside and outside the community, research, media strategies, and negotiating complicated spaces between xenophobic racism and community silencing. How did these women find their way to exciting and meaningful careers? What sustains them in their work? Come & find out.

pdf poster here: KhanMattoo21jan





Tuesday February 4th 1230-230 in 2027, join IFLS

Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes

Legal Director Tamar Witelson & Legal Information Coordinator Joanna Hayes work for one of Toronto’s most dynamic and community engaged agencies. METRAC is a non-profit committed to the rights of women and children to live their lives free of violence and the threat of violence. They will discuss the work METRAC does, how they work together, their career paths, and what working in the not-for-profit sector is like.

PDF poster here:  METRAC4thFeb





More talkback: METRAC to Wente

I was blissfully unaware of this helpful Margaret Wente column published recently: Rape on Campus: is it an epidemic?

until I saw a response on the METRAC (Metropolitan Action Committee on Public Violence Against Women and Children) blog (Megaphone Diaries) written by Legal Director Tamar Witelson:

METRAC has been conducting our United Nations’ endorsed Safety Audit on Canadian campuses for nearly 25 years, and has identified many reasons why sexual assault is endemic in the campus environment. These include:

      1. there is a high number of women in an identified community, and they are most often targeted for assault;
      2. there is a disproportionately high number of people under the age of 25 in that community and young people, especially young women, are at higher risk of experiencing assault;
      3. a significant number of people make campuses their home and sexual assault happens in “home settings” in high rates;
      4. excessive alcohol and chemical substance use are common features of campus life and that can add to abuse dynamics; and
      5. student life lends itself to study and social activities late at night and campuses often have many unmonitored, deserted, poorly lit areas ill-designed for safety, especially safety for women and other groups at high risk of abuse.


I can pretty much guarantee more on the blog on similar topics in the near future, so stay tuned.

Schlifer, METRAC, LEAF Submission to the Parliamentary Committee re Bill C31


These changes, considered cumulatively, remove the ability of a significant number of women who come to Canada with their abusers and rely on the abuser’s refugee claim while living under his power and control, to have their risk of persecution assessed at all. The lives of many women will be put at risk and Canada’s reputation as a safe haven of gender equality will be severely undermined.

Read the full submission here:

Submission of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Immigration regarding the Committee’s review of Bill C-31
April 24, 2012