Staff

Leilani Farha, Executive Director, is a leading expert and advocate on economic and social human rights, especially for women. She has a long history promoting the right to adequate housing, equality and non-discrimination in housing in Canada and internationally. Prior to joining Canada Without Poverty, Leilani was the Executive Director of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation for 12 years. She has extensive experience addressing homelessness, poverty and inequality in Canada through advocacy, casework, litigation, research and community based work. She has been at the forefront of applying international human rights law to anti-poverty issues in Canada, and is known internationally for her work on housing rights and women’s economic and social rights. In 2014, she was appointed  by the United Nations Human Rights Council to the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing.

Leila Edwards, Staff Lawyer, and Outreach Coordinator joined CWP in February 2020. Before joining CWP, Leila completed her JD at the University of Ottawa in 2018, and her BA in Legal Studies at Carleton University in 2015. Leila is dedicated to analyzing law through an anti-oppressive, anti-racist framework. She spent her education researching a variety of social justice issues including the criminalization of sex work, ableism in education and employment, and the legal history of Canadian settler colonialism. She is also passionate about law reform and access to justice. During law school, Leila volunteered for the Feminist Alliance for International Action and assisted in the campaign to eliminate sex discrimination in the Indian Act. She also interned and articled with sole practitioners in Ottawa, and Toronto, who dedicate their legal practices to human rights, constitutional law, and housing. Leila was called to the Ontario Bar in January 2020.

Caitlin Sears, Fund Development and Finance Coordinator, joined CWP in November 2019. She studied English Literature at the University of Toronto and Carleton University. She has extensive experience in the non-profit sector in Ottawa, and a strong background in fundraising, communications, event management, and non-profit administration. She is a passionate supporter of human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls. She is excited to join the team at CWP to focus on eradicating poverty in Canada.

Vanessa Poirier

Vanessa Poirier, Articling Student, recently completed her final year of the JD program at the University of Ottawa.  Prior to law school, Vanessa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies, from Carleton University, and earned a diploma in Television Broadcasting from Algonquin College. After graduating from her undergrad, Vanessa spent nearly a decade working in the television and broadcasting industry where she acquired extensive experience in project management and international business relations. During her time at the U of Ottawa Law, Vanessa was the recipient of the Directed Access to Justice Fellowship where she gained invaluable exposure areas of social justice including human rights, worker’s rights, and tenant’s rights. Vanessa also participated in the Access to Justice pop-up clinics as both a Case Worker and Case Manager, providing legal services to some of Ottawa’s most under-served communities. During her time at Canada Without Poverty, Vanessa will focus on projects relating to strategic litigation, advocacy, and legal education.

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