Announcement: A warm HRLSC welcome to our new Interim Executive Director, Dr. Remi Warner

The HRLSC extends a warm welcome to Dr. Remi Warner, who joined the Centre on January 8, 2024, as the new Interim Executive Director following the departure of Sharmaine Hall. As we bid a fond farewell to Sharmaine, we are excited to introduce Remi’s extensive human rights background to our broader community and share news of the next steps for the HRLSC.

Dr. Remi Warner

About Dr. Remi Warner:

Remi comes to the HRLSC with substantial human rights policy and management expertise. His professional experience includes the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, and most recently serving as the Director of Human Rights at Toronto Metropolitan University. Remi holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from York University. He has represented Ontario and Canada before United Nations human rights bodies and has led the development of numerous seminal human rights-related policies, reports and legislation. Remi will function in the interim role for one year to facilitate the HRLSC Board of Director’s implementation of a full recruitment campaign for the permanent position. Remi’s detailed professional profile is set out below.

Remi’s professional and academic experiences will play an important role in supporting the HRLSC’s commitment to being a leader in advancing equality, protecting human rights and supporting every person’s right to live and work with dignity and respect. In appointing Remi in the interim role, the HRLSC Board believes he will serve as a strong advocate for our staff and clients and will help ensure the continued delivery of high-quality human rights legal advice and support by the HRLSC.

Remi’s appointment comes as the HRLSC launches its long-awaited Strategic Planning Process. This Planning Process will include consultations with HRLSC stakeholders to reflect on past successes and develop our future vision for the organization. The Centre is eager to tap into Remi’s strong strategic planning experience and his insights as a recognized leader in the field of human rights. We will have further updates on the Strategic Planning Process as it continues to develop in the coming months.

Reflecting on Sharmaine Hall’s time as Executive Director:

We had the pleasure of working with Sharmaine from 2009, when she joined us from the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic as a legal manager, before going on to serve as Executive Director from 2016 to the end of 2023. In her time with the Centre, she worked on several high-profile cases and saw the growth of our outreach efforts through the Indigenous Services and Outreach Committee and the Sexual Harassment and Assault Resource Exchange. She also helped steer the HRLSC through the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board and HRLSC team express gratitude to Sharmaine for her dedication to the Centre and wish her well in her new career as Legal Director with the Public Guardian and Trustee.

Next steps for the selection of a permanent Executive Director:

The HRLSC Board thanks the stakeholders, Sharmaine and staff who supported the search and selection process to fill the interim position. The Board will initiate a comprehensive search for a permanent Executive Director by engaging the services of a recruitment firm. We anticipate the permanent recruitment process will invite internal and external candidates and we will provide an update once recruitment arrangements are confirmed.

Please join us in welcoming Remi and thanking him for his support during this transitional period. We are excited to have him take on this critical leadership responsibility as part of a dedicated team of human rights champions.

Dr. Remi Warner has served in a variety of senior management and staff roles over the last 20 years, leading teams of human rights professionals in the protection, promotion and advancement of human rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code, including in large government and public sector institutions.

Remi joins us most recently from Toronto Metropolitan University, where he was the Director of Human Rights Services. In this role and his previous role heading up the Toronto District School Board’s Human Rights Office, Remi oversaw the management and resolution of human rights complaint processes, including investigations and mediations, and promoted human rights organizational change through policy, research, education, partnerships and outreach. Prior to that, Remi worked at the Ontario Human Rights Commission for close to a decade as a senior policy analyst, before helping to start up the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate in Cabinet Office as Special Policy Advisor and then Manager of Research and Strategic Initiatives.

Such diverse roles afforded him the unique opportunity to contribute to the development of numerous seminal Ontario human rights related policies, strategies, reports and legislation including the Ontario Anti-Racism Act, 2017, Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism, A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, Ontario Public Service Anti-Racism Policy, Ontario Anti-Black Racism Strategic Plan, Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Preventing Discrimination Based on Creed, Policy on Eliminating Racial Profiling in Law Enforcement, To Dream Together: Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Dialogue Report, and the Toronto District School Board’s Human Rights Policy and Procedure on Reporting and Responding to Racism and Hate Incidents Involving or Impacting Students in Schools. Remi has a PhD in Social Anthropology from York University, and a Master of Arts degree in Culture, Race, and Difference from Sussex University, UK, where he studied as a Commonwealth Scholar. He is currently a Senior Fellow at Massey College at the University of Toronto.