Natalie Drolet – Executive Director/Staff Lawyer
Natalie joined MWC as Executive Director – Staff Lawyer in November 2014. Her legal practice focuses on the areas of immigration law and employment law, and she has represented migrant workers before all levels of court in BC. Natalie has been active in the fields of migration and human rights since 2003 when she worked as a researcher in Thailand for Rights & Democracy. Before joining MWC, she served as the Staff Lawyer for a multilingual access to justice initiative with with a community legal clinic in Ottawa. Prior to this, she worked in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a Legal Advisor and managed initiatives to advance the rights of domestic workers with the Legal Support for Children and Women.
Natalie received her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Civil Law from McGill University in 2009 and her Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University in 2005. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, vegetarian cooking and taking her dog Georgie to the beach.
Amanda Aziz – Staff Lawyer
Amanda is a part-time Staff Lawyer with the Migrant Workers Centre and also works as an immigration and refugee lawyer. She is a long-time advocate for migrant justice, is the proud daughter of immigrants and has supported many families in navigating their immigration status in Canada. She has appeared regularly before all levels of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada as well as the Federal Court of Canada and has testified before federal standing committees of the House of Commons and Senate.
Amanda has worked with organizations supporting women and workers’ rights, including the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund, the BC Government and Service Employees Union and the Canadian Labour Congress, and is a member of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers National Executive and the Canadian Bar Association Provincial Executive. She is also a regular volunteer with Rise Women’s Legal Clinic and is actively involved with Vancouver’s sanctuary city movement, advocating for access to services for all regardless of immigration status. Prior to her life as a lawyer, Amanda represented students at the national level, advocating for accessible post-secondary education. She received her law degree from the University of Victoria in 2014.
Jonathon Braun – Staff Lawyer
Jonathon returns to MWC as a staff lawyer after previously working here as a legal advocate. In between these roles, Jonathon continued to advocate for the rights of workers as an articling student and lawyer at a boutique union-side labour and employment firm. During his time in private practice, Jonathon stayed involved at MWC as the Secretary of our Board of Directors.
In his legal practice, Jonathon has represented clients before a number of administrative bodies, including the Employment Standards Branch, Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal, Residential Tenancy Branch, Human Rights Tribunal, and Labour Relations Board. He has also assisted clients with a variety of immigration issues and has advocated for improvements to Canada’s immigration laws.
Jonathon received his law degree from the University of British Columbia in 2015. In his free time, he loves being outdoors and is an avid hiker and downhill skier. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Jonathon has been devouring books and has stayed social and connected by organizing online games and competitions.
Michelle Markell – Articling Student
Michelle is an Articling Student with the Migrant Workers Centre. Michelle has an undergraduate degree in English and Spanish from Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Spanish and Latin American literatures from Universidad de Buenos Aires, and she received her law degree from UBC in May 2022. During her time in law school, Michelle worked as Program Coordinator for Pro Bono Students Canada and volunteered with the Law Students Legal Advice Program Immigration Clinic, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and the Community Legal Assistance Society in their Human Rights Complaint Drafting Project. She also spent a year as a Student Clinician with Allard’s International Justice and Human Rights Clinic. In her free time, Michelle enjoys trying new restaurants and cuisines with her partner, learning about gardening, and growing what she can on her apartment balcony.
Perla Villegas – Community Legal Worker
Perla is originally from Mexico, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Law, and a Diploma in Human Rights from the Institute of the Federal Judiciary. She also holds a Diploma in International Development from the Okanagan College in Kelowna, BC. For more than 15 years, she worked for a Human Rights Tribunal in Mexico, where she acted as a Project Secretary for complaints involving discrimination, indigenous’ rights, family violence, unlawful imprisonment, labour exploitation and trafficking, among others.
In addition, she has worked as a Research Assistant for the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, of the Western University in Ontario, the University of British Columbia and Okanagan College for the project Testing a Support Model to Address Gaps in Services that Contribute to Migrant Agricultural Workers’ Vulnerability in the Okanagan Valley. She also volunteers with RAMA Okanagan. In her role as Community Legal Worker with MWC, Perla conducts outreach to migrant agricultural workers and providing referrals, document translation and legal navigation.
Romane Mulatin – Legal Support Coordinator
Romane joined MWC in September 2022 as Legal Support Coordinator. Originally from Belgium, Romane’s long-standing passion for human rights and global issues has led her to gain broad legal experience in multiple European countries. Before joining MWC, she served as a Legal Officer, representing the Belgian State in front of the appellate court for refugee and immigration matters, and as a Protection Officer, analysing applications for refugee status in Belgium. Prior to this, she completed a traineeship at the European Court of Human Rights, in France, in the chambers of Judge Keller, elected in respect of Switzerland. Romane also interned at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in The Netherlands, where she gained expertise in legal support and project management.
Romane holds a Bachelor of Law from Saint-Louis University, Brussels, and a Double Master degree in European and International Law from KU Leuven, Belgium, and the University of Zurich, Switzerland. During her studies, she shortly worked in a law firm, volunteered with Oxfam and Amnesty International, and was strongly involved with the Scouts in her hometown. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, thrift shopping and cooking with her partner.
Esel Panlaqui – National Coordinator & Advocacy Lead (Alliance for Gender Justice in Migration)
Esel Panlaqui is a long-time migrant justice advocate with over two decades of diverse experience in the non-profit, NGO, and grassroots sectors. She has a track record of designing and delivering innovative programs and strategic initiatives that empower marginalized communities through her work with The Neighbourhood Organization, Peel Newcomer Strategy Group and KAIROS. Her passion and dedication earned her Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT) Immigrant and Refugees Women’s Advocate Award in 2017. Esel has completed her course work in Diploma in Women and Development at the University of the Philippines in 2005. In her spare time, when the skies are clear, you will find Esel stargazing and photographing the moon.
Sabrina Rivera – Regional Coordinator: Alliance for Gender Justice in Migration & Project Coordinator: Level Up Leadership Program
Sabrina is a settler from Ilocos Norte, Philippines. She has been living in Vancouver since she was eight years old and she is currently studying psychology. She is pursuing graduate studies in this field with specific interests in Developmental and Clinical Psychology.
Prior to attending post-secondary, she worked as a legal administrative assistant at the Child and Youth Legal Centre and has extensive experience in management roles within hospitality and customer service. Through working in these different sectors, Sabrina has worked with (and learned from) diverse populations in diverse settings, resulting in a deep connection to supporting women and children through the development of meaningful and collaborative relationships. This deep connection and relationships are what drive her work. In addition to her educational pursuits and work as Regional Coordinator for BC, Sabrina is also an art program facilitator with DAREarts and an Advocacy Committee member at MWC.
In her spare time, Sabrina loves to spend time with her family and can be found trying out a new restaurant with her partner. Additionally, in order to quit her relationship with fast-fashion and its detrimental impact on the environment, she has been learning to sew and attempting to construct a fully me-made wardrobe!