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UofGH alumna Rachel Leck named Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Rachel Leck

In her third year at the University of Guelph-Humber, alumna Rachel Leck took a class taught by a professor who planted the idea of a law-school education.

After her graduation, Leck headed to the University of Ottawa to attain her Juris Doctor. Three years ago, Leck joined McCague Borlack LLP’s Ottawa office as a civil litigator specializing in employment, family, child protection and human rights.

In September, Leck attained a special new honour: part-time Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), a screening and investigative body.

“My job as a commissioner is to look at the human rights complaints that are made and to decide if they meet the criteria required for a hearing with the Human Rights Tribunal so that the Tribunal can determine if there was discrimination or not,” Leck said.

Juggling life and school

As a student at UofGH, Leck sometimes showed up for classes with a backpack and a baby.

When Leck enrolled for the Media Studies program at UofGH, she was a mature student and mother to a one-year-old. In her second year, she gave birth to a second child. One day when her usual childcare arrangement fell through, a completely overwhelmed Leck called her instructor and explained her dilemma.

The instructor suggested Leck bring the baby to the class.

“At the University of Guelph-Humber, I received a lot of support from the faculty and administration, and that was invaluable to my success,” Leck said.

“I brought my newborn baby with me in a sling wrap because the instructor told me I should not have to choose between taking care of him and attending classes. Mine is a concrete example of the difference support and accommodation can make for somebody.”

Leck was among the first cohort of students to graduate from the University of Guelph-Humber in 2006.

Championing human rights

When she is not juggling her responsibilities as a lawyer, mother and her new role with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Leck can be seen mentoring women entering the legal profession. For more than 20 years, the UofGH alumna has served as a board member with a Francophone adult literacy agency as well as a women’s shelter and rape crisis centre.

“I am really grateful I ended up at UofGH and there was an administration that was supportive of me,” Leck said.

“Here I am today. The reality is that when you have support from people within the system – whether it is education or workplace – you can be successful even with the challenges that come your way.”

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