I have an opening statement as well.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and committee members.
I immigrated to Canada as an infant, with my parents, from England to Montreal. I grew up in Montreal. I attended CÉGEP. I attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated from it with an honours bachelor degree in history. I attended the University of Windsor Law School, at which time I developed a lifelong passion for human rights law, and was called to the Ontario bar in 1988.
Shortly thereafter I began to work for the Immigration and Refugee Board as a refugee hearings officer. Within about seven months I was promoted to manage the unit of about 40 refugee hearing officers.
In July 1990 I was hired by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and I was posted to Hong Kong. I was in Hong Kong as an appeals counsellor, representing Vietnamese boat people who were detained in camps. It was my job to go to the camps and interview them and represent meritorious claims.
During the time that I was at the UNHCR, I was also seconded for about 18 months to work on a special committee dealing with, mainly, unaccompanied minors. It was my job to make a recommendation on their refugee status but also devise a durable solution for each of those minors.
In May 1994 I was appointed by the Hong Kong government to the refugee status review board, which was an appellant-level refugee decision-making authority. Later that year I returned home to Canada.
Following the birth of my daughter in—actually, her birthday was yesterday—June 1995, I became a stay-at-home mom for three years. I was a group volunteer at Metro Mothers Network in Toronto. I returned to the workforce in 1998, as I was hired by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I was investigator there for about a year. Following that, I won a competition to become a mediator.
During that period of my life I was also a director at my daughter's day care centre. I also took an advanced law degree at night and was conferred a master's of law in June 2003 from Osgoode Hall Law School.
In early 2000 I was invited to write a three- to four-hour written test to become an IRB board member. After passing the test and being interviewed, I was appointed to the IRB in June 2000.
I trained for about four weeks and then was assigned to the Americas team in Toronto. The team I'm designated to hears claims emanating from the Americas. I was also assigned a mentor.
I should point out that I was initially appointed for two years, but in April 2002 I was reappointed for five more years. I was designated by the then chairperson, Peter Showler, to be a member manager. I led a team of decision-makers in Toronto until April 2005.
In April 2005 I was appointed as an assistant deputy chairperson of the immigration appeal division in Toronto. In the fall of that same year, Mr. Fleury, our former chair, asked me to act as deputy chairperson of the immigration appeal division for three months.
More recently, in November 2006, I competed for the position of assistant deputy chairperson in the refugee protection division, and in April 2007 Minister Finley reappointed me for three years and designated me as assistant deputy chairperson of the refugee protection division in Toronto.