Centre Staff

Corey Petsnik, Wendy Ross, Karen Busby, Denise McInnes, Christine Williams

Address: Room 442, Robson Hall, 224 Dysart Rd., University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2. Fax: 204-474-7580

Centre director

Prof. Karen Busby‘s research interests include laws connected to sex, sexuality, violence and the human right to safe drinking water. Her current research is on human rights laws affecting lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-identified (LGBT) people; sex work; surrogacy contracts; religious freedom; and child protection. She is also the principal investigator on a $200,000 partnership development grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada on the right to clean water in First Nations. Busby writes a regular column about human rights for Canadian Lawyer.

She was an active participant in litigation and law reform efforts on sexual assault, recognition of same-sex relationships, bawdy houses/indecency, age of consent and gender identity. Prof. Busby appeared as counsel in the Supreme Court of Canada in the Little Sisters case about the discriminatory treatment of LGBT bookstores by Canada Customs. She teaches constitutional law, administrative law, gender and the law, and a multi-disciplinary graduate-level seminar course on a current human rights topic.

Busby was a member the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) national legal committee from 1992-1997. She also served on the board of Egale Canada (2003-08), a national organization representing LGBT folks. Prof. Busby was on the review panel established under Manitoba’s Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act from 2001-12. She served on the board of governors of the Winnipeg Art Gallery from 2000-2009. Busby delivers seminars to new administrative board members on fair procedures and is a member of Research Manitoba’s research advisory committee.

Prof. Busby has received numerous awards recognizing her human rights work, including a YWCA Women of Distinction award, and awards from the Manitoba and Canadian bar associations. She was inducted into the Q (Queer) Hall of Fame in 2011, was awarded the University of Manitoba’s top teaching award in 2015 and received a Senate 150th Anniversary Medal in 2017.

She can be reached at 204-474-6155, 440 Robson Hall.


Helen Fallding is a lifelong human rights activist who ran women’s centres at the University of Toronto and in Victoria, B.C., helped the Carcross-Tagish First Nation negotiate a land claim, co-founded Yukon’s first gay organization and is helping support refugees.

She graduated with gold medals from the University of Guelph (honours B.Sc. in biology) and the University of Western Ontario (MA in journalism).

Her first job as a reporter was with Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon — the Beat of a Different Drummer. She worked from 1998 to 2011 for the Winnipeg Free Press, where she was Western Manitoba regional reporter, legislature bureau chief and then science reporter before becoming assistant city editor.

Helen has won awards for feminist activism and for journalism, including for a series of stories about lack of running water on Manitoba First Nations, published shortly before she joined the University of Manitoba in 2011.

She can be reached at 204-474-6156, 442 Robson Hall.

H2O Program Co-ordinator

Wendy Ross is running a science and engineering research training program for water and sanitation security in First Nations. She is a member of Pimicikamak Cree Nation, has a master’s degree in Native Studies from the University of Manitoba and previously worked as a researcher for Fox Lake Cree Nation on traditional land use studies. Her reports there informed environmental assessments related to hydro projects. Wendy Ross won the U of Manitoba’s 2017 Accessibility & Inclusion Award.

You can contact Wendy at 204-474-8822, Room 442, Robson Hall.

Office assistant

Denise McInnes helped set up the Manitoba Institute for Materials before joining the Centre for Human Rights Research in 2016 in a part-time position. She previously worked as an office assistant for the chemistry department for 9 years and for Standard Aero for 11 years as a customer service specialist and export compliance officer. Denise is a certified geological technician, an active grandmother and community volunteer. Her usual office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings.

Denise can be reached at 204-474-6453, 438 Robson Hall.

Speakers bureau

Human rights speakers bureau co-ordinator Iman Kanji is a law student at the University of Manitoba. During his first year of law school, Iman served the Winnipeg community through Pro Bono Students Canada’s lawyer phone-in referral program at the Community Legal Education Association. Before law school, Iman studied business management and organizational studies at the University of Western Ontario. He is also a licensed paralegal in Ontario. Having previously served as a special events intern with Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group at Wilfrid Laurier University, Iman has experience organizing community outreach programs and educational events.

Student assistants

Rebecca Sinclair is a proud Cree mother of three, originally from Brochet, Manitoba, and a member of Little Saskatchewan First Nation. She is completing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. Rebecca is passionate about collaborating on Indigenous inclusion, sustainable development and preservation and access to the true history of Indigenous people. As an inter-generational residential schools survivor, she is passionate about Indigenous economic development, Indigenous recruitment and retention, and the well-being of Indigenous peoples. She looks for every opportunity to engage Indigenous knowledge and languages personally and with her children. She is a student assistant for the H2O program.

Christine Williams is a second-year law student at the University of Manitoba who is Prof. Busby’s research assistant. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women & Gender Studies and Human Rights. She is treasurer of the Feminist Legal Forum, a student committee that works to support women’s equality and women’s rights as they relate to law school and the legal field. Christine also sits on the board of the Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba, a local women’s human rights organization that advocates for human rights education, awareness and action both locally and globally.


Tamara Edkins is a law student who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from the University of Manitoba. She is working with Dr. Shauna Labman to examine the differences between the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board’s gender guideline and its new sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression guideline, as well as how they are used by IRB members. This project involves an access to information request for all of the unpublished IRB decisions in which these guidelines have been used.


Amie Peterson is a second-year law student at the University of Manitoba. Before attending law school, she completed an honours BSc in biology at the University of Winnipeg. Along with Chandra Oliver, she is working on developing curriculum-based programming for the Human Rights Speakers Bureau. Amie has a passion for educating, and has helped develop and implement educational programming for kids through her work as a park interpreter.


Corey Petsnik is a PhD student in social psychology at the University of Manitoba. He maintains the Centre for Human Rights Research Twitter feed and Facebook page and assists with the centre’s website. His master’s research evaluated how witnessing ostracism affects observers’ views of human nature and their antisocial inclinations.


Sarah Warrack is a master’s student in the Department of Environment after working as a school teacher for five years and then completing her honour’s degree in biology in May 2017. She co-authored a paper on microplastic contamination in Lake Winnipeg that was featured on CBC. Her current research is on microplastics within freshwater systems such as the Assiniboine and Red Rivers and Manitoba wetlands, including possible ingestion by fish and settling rates of different types of microplastics. Sarah is audio recording and writing plain-language summaries of seminars in our Right to Water series for online posting.

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