As a lawyer at Woodward and Company, Renée’s primary practice includes developing, drafting and implementing laws and policies for First Nations governments and communities. Backed by extensive experience developing laws for the Province, as well as a background in international human rights law and advocacy for marginalized communities around the world, her work at the firm seeks to improve self-governance and protection of Indigenous customs and legal traditions, while remaining community focused.
Renée grew up in a farming community in the Lower Mainland (Delta), BC, with parents and grandparents that raised horses. She went on to study at the University of British Columbia, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geography as well as her law degree. She articled with a criminal defence law firm in Vancouver, BC before being called to the bar in 2003, and worked with the BC provincial government leading law reform projects from 2005-2020.
Across the span of her legal career, Renée has contributed to lasting impact in the area of human rights legislation as it pertains to First Nations communities and beyond, and has developed laws for the implementation of modern treaties. She regularly acts as a panellist, guest lecturer, presenter, organizer, volunteer, and advocate both at home in Canada and abroad. She is a Director of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, a role which saw her travel to Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council. She’s also an associate at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives (CAPI) at the University of Victoria; a volunteer with the Karenni Social Development Center, a refugee-run human rights school near Mae Hong Son, Thailand; and a volunteer with refugees in Canada and internationally with refugees from Myanmar.
Renée’s enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring acts as a catalyst for exponential reform in her areas of practice. She has been a mentor and supervisor for the UVic law co-op students since 2009, and previously volunteered as a supervising lawyer with Pro Bono Students Canada. To her, learning through listening, developing ongoing relationships and building trust with the clients she works with, and mentoring junior lawyers and law students, has been her most meaningful achievement.
Selected Presentations & Publications
Guest Presenter, Office of Innovation for Democracy, King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Bangkok, Thailand – February 2020
Presentation on public consultation and regulatory impact assessment.
Guest Lecturer, National Assembly of Vietnam, Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria Faculty of Law, Victoria, BC – November 2019
Lecture introducing the structure of the BC Legislature
Guest Lecturer, Camosun College, Victoria, BC – November 2018
Lecture on the consideration of Constitutional issues during the law reform process.
Panelist, 5th CAPI Roundtable on Southeast Asia in Global Context, Victoria, BC, Canada – March 2018
Roundtable on the ASEAN Economic Community and Connectivity.
Presenter and Organizer, Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2018 – Egypt, University of Victoria Faculty of Law, Victoria, BC, Canada – January 2018
Presentations on human rights lawyers facing persecution in Egypt.
Guest Lecturer, University of Victoria Faculty of Law, Victoria, BC – 2017 – 2018
Annual lecture on the BC Government Law Co-op Program.
Representative for Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland – July 2017
Guest Lecturer, University of Victoria Faculty of Law, Victoria, BC – 2017
Lecture on land confiscation in Karenni State, Myanmar and resistance by the Karenni People.
Faculty, Continuing Legal Education BC, Vancouver, BC – 2016
2016 Conference: “BC’s New Franchises Act.”
Faculty, Continuing Legal Education BC, Vancouver, BC – 2013
2013 Conference: “New BC Limitation Act.”
Assistant: Elizabeth Letawsky
Member, Law Society of B.C. (2003)
Member, Canadian Bar Association of BC
Member, Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, Montreal, QC
CAPI Associate, Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, Victoria, BC
Director, Lawyer’s Rights Watch (Legal Research) Canada, Vancouver, BC
Advocate and Supporter, Karenni Social Development Center, Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Member, Victoria Bar Association, Victoria, BC