Virtual Panel: A National Encampment Response Plan

March 15, 2024

Join us for a panel on human rights solutions to homeless ENCAMPMENTS!

Canada’s homeless encampments are a national human rights crisis, and advocates across the country—including the Federal Housing Advocate, Marie-Josée Houle—are sounding the alarm.

On March 26th, join the Federal Housing Advocate and National Right to Housing Network for a panel discussion on the Advocate’s latest encampments report and her urgent call for a human rights-based National Encampments Response Plan.

The Advocate will be joined by a panel of lived experts and grassroots organizers who will speak to how all levels of government can work together to address the urgent and life-threatening crisis of encampments, in collaboration with encampment residents.

As a participant, you will also leave this discussion with practical tools to help you advocate for rights-based responses to encampments in your own communities. Together, we can ensure the immediate safety of encampment residents while addressing the urgent and long-term need for permanent, affordable, and adequate housing solutions.


  • Marie-Josée Houle, the Federal Housing Advocate (Moderator)
  • Anna Cooper, Lawyer at Pivot Legal Society
  • Delilah Gregg, President of Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction
  • Lorraine Lam, Outreach Worker in Downtown East Toronto
  • Chris Wiebe, Lawyer at Engel Law
  • Caroline Leblanc, Researcher at Université de Sherbrooke
  • Gaelle Mushyirahamwe, Research Coordinator at the National Association of Friendship Centres
  • DJ Larkin, Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (Co-Moderator)

**This is a bilingual event, and simultaneous French-English interpretation will be available.**


Meet the Panelists:

Anna Cooper, Lawyer at Pivot Legal Society

Anna was driven to law school by her desire to address inequality in a systemic way. Early experiences volunteering in the Downtown Eastside and with the Elizabeth Fry Society taught her about the gross inequalities in Canadian society and our continued criminalization of race and poverty. She graduated from law school in 2013 and went on to practice in criminal defence and mental health law prior to joining Pivot in August of 2017. Anna is committed to using the law as a tool to protect and advance the dignity of all people.

Lorraine Lam, Outreach Worker in Downtown East Toronto

Lorraine is a Chinese-Canadian settler-immigrant and has been crisis outreach worker & case manager in the Downtown East of Toronto for over 10 years, supporting people who are unhoused and precariously housed. Her work focuses on housing & homelessness, systems navigation, advocacy, harm reduction, and trauma-informed approaches to collaboration, survival, and building a more equitable and just reality for all. She organizes with Shelter Housing Justice Network and was a contributor to Displacement City (University of Toronto Press, 2022), and has done a number of podcasts and media conversations on Spacing, TVO’s Agenda, Toronto Star’s This Matters, and more recently CTV’s The Social. She loves naps, carbs, and her very extroverted puppy, Miso. 

Chris Wiebe, Lawyer at Engel Law

Chris Wiebe is a settler on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton.

Chris became an associate of Engel Law Office, and a member of the Law Society of Alberta, in 2021. At Engel Law Office, Chris practices civil litigation, helping individuals with personal injury and Charter¬-breach claims against police and prisons.

Chris was born on Treaty 6 territory in Camrose and graduated high school on Treaty 8 territory in Grande Prairie before moving to Edmonton for University. He graduated from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law in 2020.

Prior to law school, Chris studied music composition and worked for two years as a follow-up support worker for a housing first agency. It was while working in housing first that Chris first became aware of the harm that the legal system too often causes low-income, unhoused, and Indigenous community members.

During law school, Chris co-wrote a report about the disproportionate number of transit tickets that Edmonton Transit Peace Officers gave to unhoused Edmontonians in 2018. The report contributed to the City of Edmonton’s eventual decision to repeal the transit loitering bylaw.

Chris completed his articling year at Calgary Legal Guidance, where he worked alongside low-income Calgarians in various legal matters. While articling, Chris completed a secondment with Eagle Law Group where he helped prepare for a Supreme Court of Canada application in a treaty rights case.

Chris acted as co-counsel for the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights in the Coalition’s Charter challenge of the City of Edmonton’s encampment evictions.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys playing music with friends, and spending time with his one-year-old.

Gaelle Mushyirahamwe, Research Coordinator with the National Association of Friendship Centres

Gaelle Mushyirahamwe has been part of the team at the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) for over 4 years, working as a Research Coordinator alongside Policy & Research Manager, Jonathon Potskin, and fellow Research Coordinator, Justin Sackaney. The National Association of Friendship Centres is a network of over 100 Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations, which make up part of the Friendship Centre Movement (FCM) –Canada’s most significant national network of self-determined Indigenous owned and operated civil society community hubs offering programs, services and supports to urban Indigenous people. In partnership with the OFHA, the NAFC has been engaging with Friendship Centres to highlight the pivotal role the FCM plays when supporting encampment communities.

Caroline Leblanc, Researcher at Université de Sherbrooke

Caroline Leblanc œuvre pour la défense des droits des personnes en situation d’itinérance. Elle finalise actuellement un projet de doctorat en santé communautaire à l’Université de Sherbrooke sous la direction de Pr Christine Loignon et Pre Karine Bertrand afin de favoriser une meilleure compréhension des conditions de vie des personnes qui habitent la rue et d’innover par des mesures qui ne laisseront personne derrière. Caroline est aussi co-fondatrice avec la ville de Longueuil d’une communauté de pratique concernant les actions municipales en itinérance qui réunit 11 villes au Québec. De plus, elle est consultante en itinérance et spécialisée en approche collaborative afin de créer des espaces de dialogue inclusif et d’élever la voix des personnes qui habitent la rue.



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