Commissioners are appointed by an Executive Order of Executive Council. Commissioner responsibilities are described within the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. They include responsibility for the strategic direction of the Commission as well as for making decisions on human rights issues including referrals of complaints to Boards of Inquiry.
Commissioners meet six times annually. Often these meetings take place at the Halifax office of the Commission. However, Commissioners meet in a community outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality at least twice a year.
- Cheryl Knockwood, Chair
- Joseph Fraser Director & CEO (ex-officio/non-voting)
- Deepak Prasad
- Denise Mentis-Smith
- Raymond Tynes
- Wanda MacDonald
- Monica Paris
- Savannah DeWolfe
- Robin Thompson
Cheryl Knockwood, Chair
Ms. Knockwood was appointed to the Commission in 2015 and subsequently appointed chair in 2019. She is a lawyer and currently works for the Membertou First Nation as its governance co-ordinator. She has also taught Aboriginal and Treaty Rights at Cape Breton University.
She lives in Membertou.
Mr. Prasad was first appointed to the Commission in 2015. Deepak has studied at various post-secondary institutions such as Kwantlen University College, Justice Institute of BC, Dalhousie University, Laurier University, and is currently attending the London Metropolitan University's doctoral studies in policing, security, and community safety program. He has an extensive background in law enforcement and is currently employed as a police officer in Nova Scotia. Deepak sits on various charitable and non-profit boards such as the St. John Ambulance NS/PEI Council, Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Foundation, and the Canadian Mental Health Association (NS
Denise Mentis-Smith is a graduate of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University (’95). She was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1996 and is currently practicing with the law firm Harris North Law in Bedford. Ms. Mentis-Smith is a noted speaker on human rights and issues affecting the African Nova Scotian community.
Raymond G. Tynes has been active for many years in the field of race relations. He served as the first African Nova Scotian municipal town councilor in Truro for 12 years and served as the African Nova Scotia school board member for four years. He has also served as the executive director of the Colchester Community Workshop, which offers programs to individuals living with intellectual disabilities. Mr. Tynes is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and was presented with the Dr. Burnley “Rocky” Jones Human Rights Award in 2016.
Ms. MacDonald is the Executive Director of the CBDC Guysborough County and has worked in the fields of community, economic and business development for more than 20 years. Her educational achievements include a Bachelor Degree in Small Business & Entrepreneurship and Finance, NSCC Community Economic Development Certificate, APEC Certified Business Counselor Certificate Program, and Masters of Business Administration in Community Economic Development. Ms. MacDonald has served as a board member on for the ESIA Assistance Appeal Board and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Woman.
She lives in Guysborough County.
Monica Paris was appointed to the commission in 2019. She is an active member and advocate for visible minorities in the federal public service. A career public servant, Ms. Paris has served as a member of the PIPSC national human rights committee and has also served as Deputy Director of the National Council of Visible Minorities, Atlantic Region. She resides in Halifax.
Ms. Dewolfe works at the law firm McInnes Cooper. Savannah holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Ottawa, a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialization in human rights and a minor in law, along with a Masters Degree in Political Management, both from Carleton University. Prior to joining McInnes Cooper, Savannah held various positions on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, working for both the Ministers of Justice and Environment, as well as a Nova Scotian Member of Parliament. During her undergraduate studies, she interned at the United Nations Office in Vienna. Savannah has volunteered with various organizations, including: Start Proud, Meals on Wheels, and the Canadian Cancer Society. Most recently, Savannah has been coaching youth basketball for the Cole Harbour Rockets. Savannah lives in Halifax with her wife, Emily.
Ms. Thompson is Cree Métis and a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation. Robin holds a business diploma, an Advanced major in Social and Criminal Justice from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Juris Doctor from the Schulich School of Law. She is a practicing member of the Nova Scotia Barrister Society. In 2015, she was one of the ten participants chosen world-wide for the Indigenous Fellow Progamme with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Robin has over 15 years of senior management experience developing governance capacity and economic development with Indigenous communities. Robin is the Governance Manager for the Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, and currently serves on the non-profit board of the Centre for First Nations Governance. Robin lives in Dartmouth.