If you’re interested in human rights law, then you’ve probably already heard of Malliha Wilson. Malliha Wilson is a Tamil-Canadian attorney who served as the assistant deputy attorney general for the Ontario Government. As the first visible minority to hold that position, she’s a trailblazer in the human rights field. She began her career in the Ontario Public Service and later became the assistant deputy attorney general from 2008 to 2016. She currently serves on the Board of the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy, the Board of the Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Association, the Global Justice Journal, the Editorial Board of the Philippe Kirsch Institute, and the Principal’s Advisory Group at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As you can see, Malliha Wilson is an accomplished individual known as a global law expert. Keep reading to find out more about this litigator and her impressive career.
Wilson was inspired by her family’s academic accomplishments.
Malliha Wilson was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in November of 1959. Her father, Professor Alfred Jeyaratnam Wilson, is of Sri Lankan Tamil descent and was an academic, historian, and author who published eight books and taught at the University of New Brunswick. Meanwhile, her grandfather was a Ceylon Tamil lawyer. Wilson’s grandfather was even a member of parliament and a political leader within the Ceylon Tamil community for over two decades. Her grandfather, S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, even founded the Tamil United Liberation Front. This political group represented independence for Tamil populations without the use of violence.
Malliha Wilson emphasizes the importance of a good education to accomplish your goals.
Wilson got her undergraduate degree from McGill University in Montreal and went to the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto. Although her grandfather was a lawyer, she didn’t grow up thinking she would become one. In fact, she had considered a career as an anthropologist. But she would spend time with her father and her grandfather, who would always have conversations about politics. When her family moved to Fredericton, her interest in public service grew. She watched her father travel to assist with peace negotiations in Sri Lanka, and this inspired her to start learning law. After finishing school in Toronto, she then landed a role at a small law firm. This was in 1983.
She has had a long career in public service specializing in human rights and other complex litigation.
In 1987, Wilson joined the Counsel for the Ministry of Government Services, where she served as counsel in the Native Affairs Secretariat for Ontario. She acted as the lead lawyer for the Temagami and Mississauga land claims negotiations. It was there that she got to meet with a lot of Indigenous communities and learn about what mattered to them the most. Then, Wilson began working in labour law. She first began as the associate director and senior counsel for the Ontario Management Board Secretariat Law Office. In 2000, Wilson became the legal director for the Ministry of Labour. Her career soon flourished from the director of the Crown Law Office to assistant deputy attorney general come 2008.
Malliha Wilson realized that these accomplishments involved a lot of responsibility and that her success meant other people would get the same opportunities. So, she had to do it right. It’s a burden that involves the responsibility of having to shed any preconceived notions but is also crucial in leading a more diverse future. People like Malliha Wilson strive to tackle human rights issues, and her work emphasizes the importance of how a career in government can help underrepresented communities. To this day, she continues to show how a government can work for its people.
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