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Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission


Renu Mandhane, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, is possibly the youngest and certainly one of very few South Asians to head the Commission.

With an LLM in international human rights law from New York University, she is a recognized expert in the field. She sits on the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations. She has also trained Canadian and foreign judges through the National Judicial Institute of Canada, worked to advance women’s rights and has represented survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Born in Calgary, Mandhane recalls being raised in a tightly-knit community of academics that her parents were part of.

“We celebrated festivals together, went on picnics together. They became part of my identity. But like many kids of immigrants, I feel like I had two lives. Trying to fit in at school while at home the food is different, the accent is different. It was a struggle to balance the two identities.”

Today, she believes that children of immigrants have an advantage. “The real advantage for kids growing up here who get to go back to visit their home countries is that their world view gets enlarged,” she says. “I always had a bigger horizon than many of my classmates did, a bigger view of the world and our place in it. From this came a deep respect for Canada. It truly is a unique country and I learnt not to take it for granted.”

She encourages newcomers to pursue any and all educational opportunities. “Find ways to give back to the community, to value and champion the ideals of diversity and inclusion, and to seize opportunities presented to you.”

Posted: May 30, 2017

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