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.
- Eunice Harker, Chair
- Christine Hanson, Director & CEO (ex-officio/non-voting)
- Norbert Comeau
- Karen Armour
- Deepak Prasad
- Vishal Bhardwaj
- Joan Boutilier
- Jerry Blumenthal
- Cheryl Knockwood
- Andrea Paul
In accordance with the Act, the Commission consists of no fewer than three or more than twelve members. Each Commissioner holds office for the term prescribed in the commissioner’s appointment and is eligible for re-appointment.
Commissioners meet six times annually. Often these meetings take place at the Halifax office of the Commission. However, at least twice each year the Commissioners meet in a community outside HRM at which time they participate in meetings and public engagements to gain greater insight to local issues relating to human rights. The 2016 meeting schedule is as follows:
- February 16-17
- April 20-21
- June 16-17
- September 21-22
- November 16-17
- December 9
About the Commissioners
Eunice Harker, Chair
Ms. Harker has been a Commissioner since 2005 and was appointed Chair in 2011. A long-time human rights advocate, she spent much of her working life on human rights issues.
Ms. Harker was a senior staff member with Amnesty International and a member of the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration Refugee Board of Canada. She has also served on the board of directors of the Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County; as chair of Howard House, a halfway house in Sydney; as the provincial representative on the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Board of Police Commissioners; as a member of the Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities; as well as on the advisory board of Cape Breton University Press.
She lives in Lunenburg.
Mr. Comeau was first appointed as a Commissioner in 1994.
A long-time educator and administrator, Mr. Comeau has served as a classroom teacher and subsequently vice-principal and principal in francophone schools in the region of Clare on Nova Scotia’s south shore.
Mr. Comeau is active in the Acadian community, serving on several boards and commissions.
He lives in Church Point.
Dr. Joan Boutilier
Dr. Boutillier was first appointed as a Commissioner in 2012. She is a retired clinical psychologist, and has worked with several health centres in Nova Scotia. She has considerable experience in challenging discrimination, providing public education and advocacy.
As a person with a visual impairment, Dr. Boutilier brings a unique perspective to the work of the commission.
She lives in Wolfville.
Ms. Armour was appointed to the Commission in 2014. She is a retired Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer. She lives in Windsor.
Mr. Bhardwaj was appointed to the Commission in 2015. He is an experienced quality engineer, and quality control professional with applied knowledge of system and process improvement methodologies. He is the current president of the Indo Canadian Association of Nova Scotia; vice chair of Vadenta Ashram Society; and is actively engaged in numerous volunteer community and business organizations.
He lives in Dartmouth.
Mr. Prasad was appointed to the Commission in 2015. He is a Constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stationed with the Antigonish Detachment in Antigonish County. Deepak sits on various charitable and non-profit boards such as the St. John Ambulance NS/PEI Council, Family Services of Eastern Nova Scotia and Duke of Edinburgh International Awards - NS Division. He has previously served as a board member for the Leeside Transition House and MADD Inverness South. He lives in Antigonish.
Mr. Blumenthal was appointed to the Commission in 2015. He is a retired educator and municipal councillor.
In his career as a councillor, he served on many boards and commissions including the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities. He was president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and served for one year as deputy mayor of Halifax. He is currently on the boards of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons Advocacy Nova Scotia, and the Canadian Council of the Blind Advocacy and Awareness Chapter.
He lives in Halifax.
Ms. Knockwood was appointed to the Commission in 2015. She is s 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 Sydney.
Ms. Paul has been a Commissioner since 2013, reappointed most recently in October 2016. She is chief of the Pictou Landing First Nation. She acts as the band's spokesperson, chairs the council meetings and oversees the band's finances. She also teaches Mi'kmaq in the local community school. Prior to teaching, Ms. Paul was a student councillor and worked with both youth and adults in her community.
She lives in Pictou Landing.