Commission

A dynamic group of local residents from diverse backgrounds and politics came together to create OPC.

The idea for a people’s commission originated with community advocate and investigative researcher, Ken Rubin. But momentum quickly grew as different parts of the community expressed concern that during and since the occupation, their views have been largely ignored and their losses forgotten.

Why a People’s Commission?

Local residents were traumatized by the three-and-a-half-week convoy occupation of our city, leaving a community in need of healing and justice.

People are looking for a venue to address that trauma and their losses – but also to hold to account those that failed to end the occupation and protect public health and safety.

Official inquiries at the local and federal level are limited in their scope and ambition.

They give no confidence there will be a substantive, independent review – or that residents’ voices and views will be heard.

How OPC will operate

With a focus on accountability to the community, OPC will chronicle what happened and failed to happen during and after the convoy – and its impact on residents, workers and businesses.

Through a combination of community consultations and public hearings – presided over by independent Commissioners – information will be gathered, and recommendations forged.

Hearings will be held through the fall, with a final report to be released by February 2023.

Commissioners

OPC is led by four respected, independent and empathetic Commissioners with deep experience in human rights and community action.

Leilani

Leilani Farha

Leilani is Global Director of The Shift – an international human rights organization focused on housing, and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, a post she held from 2014-2020.  Her work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, and a human right – not a commodity.

Leilani serves as a Commissioner with the International Commission of Jurists and has a long history working in Canada to advance human rights. As Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty (2012 – 2020) she launched a successful Charter challenge to the tax rules governing charitable organizations.

Leilani, who is from Ottawa, co-chairs a national working group on housing issues and is working with cities across the country to use human rights law to effectively address homeless encampments.

Alex Neve

Alex is an adjunct professor in international human rights law at the University of Ottawa and Dalhousie University, and a Senior Fellow with the uOttawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He served as Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada from 2000 – 2020. In that role he led and took part in over forty human rights delegations throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Guantánamo Bay and, closer to home, First Nations communities in Canada.

Alex is a lawyer, with an LLB from Dalhousie University and a Master’s in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex. He has served as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, serves on the Board of the Centre for Law and Democracy and is a Fellow with the Atlantic Human Rights Centre.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Alex is a long-time Ottawa resident.

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah

Debbie is an award-winning Black feminist with over eight years of local and international advocacy experience in a variety of roles ranging from programming and counseling to policy analysis and project management. She became the new Executive Director at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) in July 2020.

Debbie holds an MA in International Affairs. She has had the pleasure of bridging her passion for social justice with international development at Oxfam Canada and Global Affairs Canada – as well as through volunteering and leading feminist initiatives locally with organizations like the Ottawa Dyke March, Harmony House Women’s Shelter, and Planned Parenthood Ottawa.

When she isn’t active in her community organizing events, Debbie is probably on a field somewhere playing rugby. Or baking a cake.

Monia Mazigh

Monia is an award-winning author and human rights activist – and an Adjunct and Research Professor at Carleton University’s Department of English and Literature. She writes in French and English and has authored a memoir and three critically acclaimed novels. Her latest novel, Farida won the Ottawa Book Award for French fiction. Her new memoir, “My personal journey with a “Scar…f”, an essay/memoir about gendered islamophobia, will be published in 2023.

Monia is very involved in her Ottawa community, raising funds for affordable housing. She sits on the boards of the Rideau Institute, Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Association des Auteures et Auteurs de l’Ontario français. Monia is a member of the International Advisory Council for the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

Commissioners:

  • chair public hearings where residents, community groups, public officials and experts can share their experience and present their views
  • attend community consultations
  • oversee research and prepare a report with recommendations
  • present their findings and advocate for action

To maintain their independence, Commissioners operate at arms-length from the OPC Steering Committee but draw on its support.

Public Hearings

Local residents will be able to share their stories and present their views in public hearings.

Hearings will be held in public venues across the city and online. They will generally be open to the public and posted to YouTube. Some may be organized by theme; for example, impacts on people who rely on (or provide) social services, or impacts on workers and businesses. Some might be geared to specific groups; for example, affected neighbourhoods, or communities at risk, or journalists, or experts and academics.

Every effort will be made to ensure hearings are respectful, safe and sensitive to the trauma many have experienced. Special attention will be paid to assure hearings are open and accessible to all, providing translation, interpretation and other supports where needed. Support from trauma counsellors will be offered.

Hearings will continue through the autumn. Information on dates, times and locations can be found here.

Interested in appearing before the Commission at a public hearing? Sign up here.

Community Consultations

OPC recognizes many may not feel comfortable speaking in public about their experience of the convoy occupation.

The reality is that many people who are Indigenous or Black or a person of colour, members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, younger folk or older, people with disabilities, migrants, people living rough, and others face daily discrimination and hate. We don’t want to increase the risk they might be targeted or trolled.

For that reason, we’ll be working with community leaders from these diverse groups to hold community consultations – safe spaces where members can come together to share their stories and reflect on their collective experience. Where welcome and appropriate, the Commissioners will attend these consultations as observers.

These stories and any recommendations for action will then be gathered and presented to the Commissioners to deepen their understanding and inform their report.

Interested in hosting a community consultation? Contact us here.

How Can You Help?

The OPC cannot operate without funds and volunteers. Your contribution, however small, can make a big difference, ensuring the community’s voice is heard.

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