Danette A. Edwards
For Danette, activism is in her DNA. Her grandfather, who was a trade unionist, fought for Guyana’s independence. His activism informed her belief that each person bears a personal responsibility to advocate for change and to speak up against injustice. As a child, she witnessed the embargoes and ostracization of Guyana by the Western world. She believes that the systems which operate to oppress Black people today need to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up, as they are all based in colonial/imperial thought structures.
In her role as Legal Director, Danette brings her passion, skills, and experience to assist in empowering community. Fundamentally, Danette believes in Dr. Walter Rodney’s vision of a unified Black people and is therefore committed to building alliances across Black communities to combat anti-Black racism.
Danette attended Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002. She acquired broad legal experience in the clinic system, the provincial government and in the private sector. She has extensive litigation experience and has argued cases before all levels of court in Ontario, including the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal. She has appeared before various administrative tribunals, such as the Social Benefits Tribunal, Social Assistance Review Board, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
Selwyn A. Pieters
Interim Executive Director
Selwyn is an experienced litigator licensed to practice law in Ontario, the Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He has appeared at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal. He has also appeared in numerous trials in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.
Selwyn is also a human rights activist and lawyer with a commitment to grass root community work and fearless advocacy. He successfully represented himself in the human rights case of Peel Law Association v. Pieters 2013 CarswellOnt 7881, 2013 ONCA 396, 116 O.R. (3d) 81. He also appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada for the Montreal based Center for Research-Action on Race Relations in Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), 2015 SCC 39,  S.C.J. No. 39), in which the Court adopted the analytical framework in Pieters as an accurate statement of the law in proving discrimination.
Prior to entering private practice, Selwyn was a Refugee Protection Officer at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. He has guest lectured at law schools in Ontario including Toronto, Osgoode, Queens, and Windsor. Selwyn is a contributor to the ebook “Civil Procedure and Practice in Ontario”. Selwyn is the President of the Toronto Centre of Learning & Development.
Deniqua Edwards has always been passionate about pursuing equity for marginalized communities. Motivated by her lived experience with homelessness, and the social assistance system as a teen, she wanted to use the law to uncover and combat the oppression inherent to our systems and institutions. To that end, Deniqua obtained her BA (Honours) in Legal Studies from Carleton University in 2015 and her JD from the University of Ottawa in 2018.
Since being called to the Ontario Bar in 2020, Deniqua has served as Staff Lawyer at a national anti-poverty NGO, submitting reports to the United Nations on Canada’s (non) compliance with its international human rights obligations. She also collaborated to intervene in a case before the Supreme Court of Canada concerning the relationship between poverty, single parenthood and child support arrears. Afterwards, Deniqua shifted to personal injury and insurance litigation, ensuring plaintiffs receive due compensation for their injuries.
At BLAC, Deniqua practices education law and human rights guided by a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive approach.
Josh Lamers (he/him) is one of the co-creators of the Collective of Child Welfare Survivors (CCWS) and is a core member and the Executive Lead of CCWS. Josh is a Black queer organizer, activist, law student, and child welfare survivor/abolitionist. Josh spent the first 3.5 years of his life in and out of foster care in rural Ontario until experiencing further racial displacement in adoption to a white home in another predominantly white rural town.
Josh’s community and academic work centres the intersections of Blackness, Disability and madness, child welfare survivorship, queerness and transness. Josh is the co-creator of various Black radical spaces that organize against anti-Black racism in institutions like post-secondary education. Josh’s award-winning research centres the abolition of child welfare through the experiences of Black child welfare survivors and families. Josh has his Bachelor and Master of Social Work from X University, and is currently a Juris Doctor Candidate at University of Windsor in his final year.
Shevaun Pierre (she/her) is the Intake Coordinator at the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC). She is a graduate of Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology.
Prior to joining BLAC, she worked in the Provincial Offences Court, Court Services and Prosecutions departments. Shevaun has sat on the Property Standards and Animal Services Appeal Committee and the Youth Justice Committee of the Boys and Girls club in Durham Region.
Shevaun has participated in discussions regarding anti-Black racism in literature and has worked towards amplifying Black voices in literature.
Shevaun is committed to community, equity, and diversity and working towards combating anti-Black racism in Ontario.
Piera Savage (she/her) is a staff lawyer at BLAC. She is committed to working towards racial equity by advocating for our clients and breaking down systemic barriers to equality.
She began working in the clinic system prior to her call to the bar in 2016, starting at Parkdale Community Legal Services in the Social Assistance Violence and Health division, and then expanding her practice to housing, immigration and employment law as an articling student. Piera then worked at West Scarborough Community Legal Services for four years with a focus on Housing, Social Assistance, and Immigration law.
At BLAC, Piera continues her work by representing individuals at the Landlord and Tenant Board, Human Rights Tribunal, and Social Benefits Tribunal. She approaches her work from an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and trauma-informed lens.
Piera is a graduate of Concordia University and Osgoode Hall Law School. Outside of work, Piera loves to sing, cook, and write.
Sheridan Smith (she/her) is a Staff Lawyer at BLAC. She is committed to using the law as a tool for advocacy and change.
Sheridan’s commitment to assisting others extends beyond her legal career. With over a decade of involvement in community-based and educational programs, Sheridan has developed spaces that facilitate solutions, awareness and promote positive change. Her experiences extend across borders, embracing communities not just in Ontario but also across the Caribbean and the UK.
Sheridan’s journey began with a degree in Social Work that established a strong basis for her pursuit of justice and advocacy. Since finishing law school and becoming a lawyer in 2022, Sheridan has combined her Social Work legal knowledge, and approaches problems with a mix of creativity and determination to help clients find solutions that work for them.
At BLAC, Sheridan practices prison law and human rights law, dedicated to upholding the rights of individuals within correctional facilities and in broader societal contexts.