The NWT Human Rights Commission is composed of three to five Commission Members who are appointed by the Legislative Assembly for a term of four years. Commission Members are selected based on their interest in, and sensitivity to, human rights. They are from different communities in the NWT and work part-time for the Commission.
Charles Dent, Chair
Born in Edmonton Alberta, Charles first came to the NWT for a summer job while attending the University of Alberta. He worked with the Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) out of Hay River for three seasons and after receiving his BA from Faculté St. Jean, Charles moved to Yellowknife in 1976 and began work for the city. He was a volunteer fire fighter for 7 years.
In 1979, Charles and some local partners founded CJCD Radio Ltd. Charles left his position with the City of Yellowknife to become the manager. In 1980, he bought out his partners and eventually he and his wife Eileen became the sole owners. In 1984, he was elected to Yellowknife City Council, and in 1985 he became President of the NWT Association of Communities. Charles and his wife opened Sasha’s Jewellery and Giftware Ltd. in 1986.
In 1991, Charles was elected MLA for Frame Lake, a position he held for 16 years. For 8 of those years he was elected to Cabinet, handling a number of different portfolios. During his time as an MLA, Charles worked to ensure the NWT Human Rights Act was passed. At the time it was implemented in 2004, it was the most progressive Act of its kind in Canada.
Charles and Eileen sold the jewellery store in 2005 and the radio station in 2007 and now own a company that leases commercial space in Yellowknife. Charles retired in 2007 and since then has focused on volunteering in Yellowknife. He is President of the Yellowknife Community Foundation, President of the Yellowknife Rotary Club for 2013/14, chapter member with Breakfast for Learning AB/NWT, and a director with the Midnight Sun Fly-in Association.
Charles was appointed Chair of the NWT Human Rights Commission on July 1, 2012.
Yacub Adam, Deputy Chair
Yacub Adam, originally from Malawi, currently lives and works in Yellowknife as a political consultant. He has provided consulting services to private companies, government corporations, government departments, and Ministers in the Northwest Territories. He has served as Chair of the Aurora College Board and Chair of the Aurora Research Council. Yacub holds degrees in Politics from various Universities in Britain. In his academic career, he has lectured in various fields of politics at universities in West Africa and the UK. Yacub brings to the Commission a very personal interest in human rights, his academic background, as well as his varied life experiences of having lived and worked in three continents. Yacub Adam began his mandate as Commission Member in 2008. He was appointed Deputy Chairperson of the Commission in July 2012.
Marion Berls, Commission Member
Marion has lived in the NWT for over 33 years, primarily in Fort Smith but also for short periods of time in Fort Providence and Yellowknife. She previously lived in western Canada and in the U.S. She has served as a town councillor and deputy mayor in Fort Smith and sat on Board of Directors for the NWT Association of Communities. She has also volunteered in many capacities over the years with minor hockey, figure skating, the Health and Social Services board and the ambulance service. Marion currently sits as the vice-chairperson on the Fort Smith Housing Authority Board of Directors and is a coroner. With her own many life experiences and great interest in human rights, Marion is looking forward to working with the other Commission Members to continue the great work that has already been done by the Commission in the NWT.
Bronwyn Watters, Commission Member
Born and educated in Australia, Bronwyn’s experience before coming to the NWT included: clinical psychologist; Community College counsellor, instructor and Department Chair; as well as Outward Bound Instructor. In 1978 she came to the NWT as Special Education Coordinator for the Keewatin and Kitikmeot regions. Since then she has worked in several GNWT social program departments, covering policy, programs and regional operations. She recently retired from her most recent position as Deputy Minister of Justice. Strongly committed to the principles of social justice and human rights, Bronwyn joined the Commission in July 2012.
Past Commission Members
- Roger Wahshee, Yellowknife, 2010-2014
- Rita Mueller, Behchoko, 2006-2012
- Mary Pat Short, Fort Smith, 2004-2012
- Bill Turner, Yellowknife, 2010-2011
- Tammy Rogers, Inuvik, 2006-2010
- George Collins, Hay River, 2008-2009
- Colin Baile, Yellowknife, 2004-2008
- Joletta Larocque, Hay River, 2004-2008
- Lorne Gushue, Yellowknife, 2004-2006
- Rosemary Kirby, Inuvik, 2004-2006