Centre Staff

Helen Fallding, Corey Petsnik, Karen Busby, Sue Ahn, Denise McInnes, Menal Al Fekih, Victoria Davies

Address: Room 442, Robson Hall, 224 Dysart Rd., University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2. Fax: 204-474-7580

Centre director

Prof. Karen Busby‘s research interests include laws connected to sex, sexuality, violence and the human right to safe drinking water. Her current research is on human rights laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) people; sexual violence; surrogacy; religious freedom; and child protection. She is a co-investigator on three projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: A multi-sector partnership to investigate and develop policy and practice models to dismantle rape culture at universities (Partnership Grant, $2.5 million); Surrogates’ Voices: Exploring Surrogates’ Experiences and Insights (Insight Grant, $260,000, 2019-2024) and Impervious to Change: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Criminal Sexual Assault Attrition Rates (Insight Grant, $270,000, 2019-2024). She was the principal investigator on a $200,000 SSHRC partnership development grant on the right to clean water in First Nations. Achieving Fairness: A Guide to Campus Sexual Violence Complaints by Busby and co-author Joanna Birenbaum was published in 2020.

She was an active participant in litigation and law reform efforts on sexual assault, recognition of same-sex relationships, bawdy houses/indecency, age of consent and gender identity. Prof. Busby appeared as counsel in the Supreme Court of Canada in the Little Sisters case about the discriminatory treatment of LGBT bookstores by Canada Customs. She teaches constitutional law, administrative law, gender and the law, and a multi-disciplinary graduate-level seminar course on a current human rights topic.

Busby was a member the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) national legal committee from 1992-1997. She also served on the board of Egale Canada (2003-08), a national organization representing LGBT folks. Prof. Busby was on the review panel established under Manitoba’s Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act from 2001-12. She served on the board of governors of the Winnipeg Art Gallery from 2000-2009. Busby delivers seminars to new administrative board members on fair procedures and is a member of Research Manitoba’s research advisory committee.

Prof. Busby has received numerous awards recognizing her human rights work, including a YWCA Women of Distinction award, and awards from the Manitoba and Canadian bar associations. She was inducted into the Q (Queer) Hall of Fame in 2011, was awarded the University of Manitoba’s top teaching award in 2015 and received a Senate 150th Anniversary Medal in 2017.

She can be reached at 204-474-6155, 440 Robson Hall.


Helen Fallding helped bring Canada’s first interdisciplinary Master of Human Rights degree program and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to the University of Manitoba. A lifelong human rights activist, she ran women’s centres at the University of Toronto and in Victoria, B.C., helped the Carcross-Tagish First Nation negotiate a land claim, co-founded Yukon’s first gay organization and is helping support refugees.

Fallding graduated with gold medals from the University of Guelph (honours B.Sc. in biology) and the University of Western Ontario (MA in journalism).

Her first job as a reporter was with Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon — the Beat of a Different Drummer. She worked from 1998 to 2011 for the Winnipeg Free Press, where she was Western Manitoba regional reporter, legislature bureau chief and then science reporter before becoming assistant city editor.

Fallding has won awards for feminist activism and for journalism, including for a series of stories about lack of running water on Manitoba First Nations, published shortly before she joined the University of Manitoba in 2011.

She can be reached at 204-474-6156, 442 Robson Hall.

Office assistant

Denise McInnes helped set up the Manitoba Institute for Materials before joining the Centre for Human Rights Research in 2016 in a part-time position. She previously worked as an office assistant for the chemistry department for 9 years and for Standard Aero for 11 years as a customer service specialist and export compliance officer. Denise is a certified geological technician, an active grandmother and community volunteer. Her usual office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings.

Denise can be reached at 204-474-6453, 438 Robson Hall.

Speakers bureau

Human rights speakers bureau co-ordinator Victoria Davies is a law student at the University of Manitoba. She completed an honours BA in sociology and religious studies before attending law school. Davies facilitates biweekly workshops at Elmwood High School with a group of Grade 8 girls on topics such as female empowerment and self-esteem. She also volunteers at William Whyte School with the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program to teach young people about criminal law and help them conduct a mock trial at their school. In summer 2019, Davies conducted research for Prof. Busby’s project on how post-secondary institutions should respond to formal sexual violence complaints.

Student assistants

Sue Ahn is a law student at the University of Manitoba. She has a BA in political studies with a minor in business management from the University of Manitoba. Prior to law school, she spent about five years in Toronto and Winnipeg working as a specialist in organizational development and training. She also has a diverse career history in the corporate, non-profit and health-care fields. Ahn is an executive member of Outlaws (for LGBT2SQ+ students on campus) as well as Robson Hall Mediators. She will be working as Professor Busby’s research assistant for the 2019-2020 academic year.


Rebecca Akong is a law student at the University of Manitoba. She earned a degree in classical music performance from l’Université de Montréal prior to undertaking legal studies. Akong is assisting Professor Busby with research on university policies related to sexual violence complaints. She is vice-chair of the Robson Hall Human Rights Collective and co-Coordinator of CanU Law, a charitable initiative that fosters youth mentorship and legal knowledge. Akong also serves on the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties policy and legislative affairs committee and has volunteered as a French translator with the Community Legal Education Association.


Menal Al Fekih is a law student at the University of Manitoba. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history and a minor in sociology from the U of Manitoba. She is doing research for consultant Celeste McKay on Indigenous land rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She is also the secretary for the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers student chapter at Robson Hall and works for a refugee-serving organization, supporting and advocating for refugee youth within the education system.


Tosin Fatoyinbo is a Master of Human Rights student at the University of Manitoba. He completed his LL.B at the University of Ibadan and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2014. He earned an MA in public policy with concentration in conflict studies and management at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt, Germany. He is interested in research on post-conflict memory, social repair and reconciliation. Tosin is audio recording and writing plain-language summaries of seminars in our Sexual and Reproductive Rights seminar series for online posting.


Zara Kadhim is a law student at the University of Manitoba. Prior to beginning law school, she completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Manitoba, majoring in psychology and minoring in Judaic studies. Kadhim is assisting professors Karen Busby and David Ireland in a project called “impervious to change,” which studies sexual assault cases that have been dismissed. Kadhim holds executive positions on student committees such as the Arab Students’ Association, Jam 4 Justice and Give30. She also volunteers for an after-school program mentoring/tutoring immigrant and refugee youth to empower the next generation in pursing professional careers.


Corey Petsnik is a PhD student in social psychology at the University of Manitoba. He maintains the Centre for Human Rights Research Twitter feed and Facebook page and assists with the centre’s website. His master’s research evaluated how witnessing ostracism affects observers’ views of human nature and their antisocial inclinations.


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