Presenter Biographies

Keynote Address: Canada and the Protection of Human Rights- Pushing Forward or Falling Behind?

Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada (ES)


Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty Canada (English)

Alex Neve has been Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada since January 2000. He has been a member of Amnesty for twenty years, having joined when he was a student at Dalhousie University. He has worked for the organization nationally and internationally in a number of different roles, including research missions to Chad, Tanzania, Guinea, Mexico, Burundi, Colombia, Honduras, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. He has appeared before various UN human rights bodies, Canadian parliamentary committees and has represented Amnesty International at numerous international meetings. He speaks and writes regularly in the national media on a range of human rights topics.

Alex Neve is a lawyer, with a Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and undergraduate commerce and law degrees from Dalhousie. He has practiced law in Toronto, privately and in a community legal aid clinic, primarily in the areas of refugee and immigration law. He has taught international human rights and refugee law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and has been affiliated with the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. Prior to taking up his current position he served as a Member of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.


Workshop 1:

Creative Action Planning for the Win!

Dave Oswald Mitchell, Freelance Writer, Editor and Researcher

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Dave Oswald Mitchell is a freelance writer, editor and researcher with deep roots in Saskatchewan’s progressive community. He co-edited the book Beautiful Trouble: Toolbox for Revolution (OR Books, 2012) and edited Briarpatch Magazine from 2005 to 2010. His writing has appeared in Rabble, Reality Sandwich, Rolling Thunder and Upping the Anti.  His interests include tactical media, brevity, and going elsewhere.

Workshop 1 and 3:

Torture and Sexual and Reproductive Rights: Amnesty’s Global Campaigns for 2014- 2015


Workshop 2: Women’s Human Rights

Jacqueline Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

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With 15 years of advocacy, research, and management experience in the field of human rights and international disarmament, Jackie Hansen is is the campaigner covering women’s rights, LGBTI, and major campaigns for Amnesty International Canada (English) at the National Office in Ottawa, ON.

Jackie joined Amnesty in February 2013. She previously worked with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Cluster Munition Coalition. This included eight years as the Program Manager of Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a program renowned for  providing independent  and impartial reporting on developments and challenges in eliminating victim-activated weapons.

Having lived and travelled internationally (she has visited over 30 countries and is proficient in Spanish), Jacqueline finds tranquility in spending time with her family and raising dairy goats on her small homestead in Quebec’s Gatineau Hills. She has a degree in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Victoria.

Workshop 1: Being Inclusive With Our Human Rights Work

Leah Keiser, Executive Director of the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity

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Leah Keiser is a community organizer (kind of) with a background in visual art/culture. They are passionate about disruptive artistic intervention, queer/trans health, and creative navigation of social systems. Leah is currently fortunate enough to work in an area frequently at the intersections of these things, as the Executive Director of the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, an LGBTQ health and wellness service promoter for Regina and area.

Workshop 1: Being Inclusive With Our Human Rights Work

Reggie Newkirk, Human Rights Activist & Consultant

 Reggie Newkirk Portrait 2011

Reggie Newkirk grew up in Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from high school he enlisted in he United States Air Force in the 1960’s to escape the harsh reality of life in the inner city. After his tour in the U.S.A.F he moved to Alberta, Canada in 1968. He attended and graduated from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, with a degree in history and philosophy. Soon afterward, Mr. Newkirk embarked on a career devoted to the protection of human rights. For twenty-two years he served extensively in this field working for federal, provincial and territorial Human Rights Commissions in Canada. He was the founding Executive Director of the B.C. Institute on Family Violence Prevention.

Currently, Mr. Newkirk runs his own consulting company, Parity Consulting, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan where one of his chief activities is the spearheading of the very successful Institute for Healing Racism. After 4 years refining the process of the Institute, Mr. Newkirk and his co-author Mr. Nathan Rutstein wrote a guide to this process Racial Healing: The Institutes for the Healing of Racism.

Because of his ability to handle challenging issues with sensitivity, care and humor, Mr. Newkirk is sought after as a public and motivational/ inspirational speaker by many different organizations, businesses and groups.

Workshop 2: The Rights of Indigenous People

Valerie J. Galley, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations

Valerie is of Ojibwa and Canadian ancestry and a member of the Nipissing First Nation. Over the past two decades, she has worked as a strategist, facilitator, policy analyst, researcher and writer on Aboriginal issues, in policy and program implementation. She holds an MA degree and from 2005-2007, she was a Research Associate with the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Aboriginal Health Research where she served as the liaison between the University of Manitoba’s Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.  Here, she also lectured to 1st year medical students on the topics of cultural competency, traditional healing and health policy.  Valerie holds a Masters of Arts degree in Canadian Studies and Native Studies from Trent University and an Honours Bachelor of Sociology with the Business Administration Option from Wilfrid Laurier University. Currently, she works in Intergovernmental Affairs for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Workshop 2: Write for Rights: The History of W4R and Planning Session for W4R 2013

Crystal Giesbrecht, Amnesty International Canada Fieldworker (Regina)

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Crystal Giesbrecht joined Amnesty International Canada’s Fieldworker program in 2012.  She is also a member of the Regina Community Group (AI 91) and has been getting together with other AI members in Regina to write letters over coffee on Tuesday evenings for the past 2 years.

Crystal is a Registered Social Worker and works for the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) and is also doing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Regina.  Her work centres on the prevention of gender-based violence.

Workshop 2: Write for Rights: The History of W4R and Planning Session for W4R 2013

Alyssa Scott, Amnesty International Saskatoon


Alyssa Scott is a 4th year Environment & Society student at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the President of the U of S Amnesty International Group and has been involved with that group since 2010. Besides her work with Amnesty, she also works as Student Refugee Program Coordinator with the student group World University Service of Canada, working to sponsor refugee students to be resettled in Saskatoon and go to university at the U of S. She is pursuing a career in environmental policy where she hopes to combine her passions for environmentalism and human rights.

Workshop 3: Starting an Amnesty Group at Your School

Halena Seiferling, Amnesty International Canada Fieldworker (Saskatoon)

headshot (1)Halena Seiferling is a recent graduate from the University of Regina with degrees in Sociology and International Development. She has been a Fieldworker with Amnesty International Canada since April 2012. Halena has been involved with formal and grassroots organizing in the areas of sustainable food systems, human rights, and solidarity movements, and was a member of the University of Regina Amnesty International Campus Club for three years.

Workshop 3: Starting an Amnesty Group at Your School

Nat Bergbusch, Amnesty International- University of Saskatchewan

my faceMy name is Nat Bergbusch and I have been involved with Amnesty International since 2009.  In addition to this, I have a twin sister, I enjoy participating in improvised theatre, playing badminton, and I find joy in cooking.

I started being a member of an Amnesty club in grade nine at Luther College High School in Regina, which had a club of its own.  Amnesty International first interested me because upon hearing that one could promote human rights abroad, from Saskatchewan, I knew that was something I had always wanted to do.  We wrote many letters to numerous countries and I thought it was pretty cool that someone like Barack Obama might read a letter I wrote, addressed to him.  In 2010, I became one of the leaders of Luther College High School’s Amnesty club. We took part in events like, Write for Rights Day, the Missing and Murdered Women’s Vigil, the Indigenous Peoples of Columbia photo exhibit, and led regular weekly meetings.  Through participating in events, we gained momentum and grew our club to many more members than when I joined in grade nine.

Currently, I am studying at the University of Saskatchewan, but the Amnesty club at Luther College High School is still going strong.  I am sure I am as excited as you are for this conference and I am looking forward to helping lead a workshop on how to get involved and create an Amnesty club near you.

Workshop 3: Starting an Amnesty Group at Your School

Jessa Pillipow, University of Regina


Jessa Pillipow is in her final year majoring in International Development Studies at the University of Regina. She is currently writing her honours thesis on the human rights abuses of Canadian mining companies operating in Guatemala. Jessa has been involved with the university’s Amnesty group since 2010 and currently serves as the President. She hopes to inspire other young people to become involved with human rights work.


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