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.