Board of Police Commissioners – Member Biographies

Commissioner Lindell Smith - Chair

Councillor, District 8

 

Commissioner Harry Critchley - Vice Chair

Harry Critchley is a resident of District 8 Halifax Peninsula North and a third year law student at the Schulich School of Law. Before going back to school, Harry worked for several years as an educator and researcher, including at Dalhousie University, the School of Access at the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia (formerly the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia).  

While at Schulich, Harry has also worked with the BC Civil Liberties Association, the oldest and most active civil liberties advocacy organization in the country, where his work has been primarily in the areas of administrative and constitutional law, with a focus on policing, prisons, and privacy. 

Outside of these professional contexts, Harry has a significant history volunteering in educational and advocacy capacities with currently and formerly incarcerated Nova Scotians. Harry currently serves as the Co-Chair of the East Coast Prison Justice Society and the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia. 

 

Commissioner Yemi Akindoju

Yemi Akindoju is President of Vanity Fashions Limited, a privately owned and operated Canadian company founded in 1989 and a leader in the fashion jewellery industry. Prior to this, Yemi worked with Scotiabank for 12 years, where he retired as a senior client relationship manager – commercial banking. Immediately prior to immigrating to Canada in 2001, Yemi was a Senior Executive at Sterling Bank (Nigeria) Plc.

Yemi holds an accounting diploma and an MBA (Banking and Finance) from Nigeria, he is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) 1991. He has over 35 years’ experience in the financial services industry including commercial and retail banking, microfinance, accounting, treasury management, audit, and assurance. Yemi commenced his career as an audit trainee before transitioning into banking where he provided professional support to mid-market corporate and small businesses. Yemi has been recognized for his creativity and fresh perspective in solving problems for his clients. As a senior executive, he was responsible for setting the strategic direction and leading all lines of business that served small businesses, retail, and commercial clients.

A very active member of his community in Halifax, outside of work, Yemi enjoys spending quality time with his family, swimming, and golfing. Yemi is also involved in community work through volunteer board and membership in the following organizations; Board of Directors - Canada Games Centre (Immediate Past Chair); Board Member (Treasurer) - Black Business Initiative (Current); and Volunteer, Member Standing-in-the-Gap (Help for Homeless).

 

Commissioner Gavin Giles

Though a Montreal native, Gavin has lived in Halifax for almost five and a half decades. He is a lawyer and King’s Counsel. He practices mainly in Atlantic Canada as a senior litigation partner at McInnes Cooper, one of the country’s 25 largest law firms. He is a graduate of both Saint Mary’s University (1981) and Dalhousie Law School (The Schulich School of Law) (1985).

Outside of his legal practice, Gavin was an Adjudicator of the Small Claims Court from 1994 to 2021, and served as that Court’s only Chief Adjudicator from 2001 to 2021. He has also served in numerous senior governance roles within the legal profession, including three two-year terms as an elected representative to the governing Council of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. He also serves McInnes Cooper as one of its nine Directors.

Gavin has also been an active community and humanitarian volunteer for many years. He raised almost $250,000 for the MS cause through the MS 100 Bike Tours between 2003 and 2015. He raised almost $100,000 for the cancer cause through the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation’s Rides For Cancer between 2017 and 2022. And over the last two decades, he has served the Red Cross movement as a senior volunteer, locally, provincially, regionally, nationally, and internationally; culminating in his appointment, in 2017, as the National Chair of the Canadian Red Cross.

Within the Red Cross movement, Gavin’s predominant interests have been in mother and child health in Sub-Saharan Central Africa, the rehabilitation of northern and western Canadian First Nations communities, general domestic and international humanitarian intervention, and in gender neutrality and balance in the governance of the international humanitarian sector.

As a pro bono legal practitioner, Gavin’s main activities have been in his clients’ public pension benefits, affordable and accessible housing, and debt relief.

For his volunteer service, Gavin has been the recipient of the Canadian Red Cross Distinguished Service Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has also been invested into the Order of the Red Cross at the Officer Level.

 

Commissioner Anthony Thomas

Anthony (“Tony”) Thomas is the Provincial appointee to the Board of Police Commissioners. Thomas is Cree First Nation from Norway House, Manitoba, but has been a band member of Sipekne’katik First Na-tion for over 15 years. Thomas has followed a traditional path, participates in cultural ceremonies, and is always willing to share his knowledge on traditional teachings from Elders involved in his journey. Thomas completed his Bachelors of Social Work in 2000 and began working for Correctional Services Canada in 2002. Thomas is currently a Federal Parole Officer with Correctional Services Canada.

In addition to periodically coaching and volunteering on his three sons’ hockey and lacrosse teams over the years, Thomas has also worked on multiple boards in HRM; including the Lake District Recreation Associa-tion (LDRA), the Indigenous Black and Mi’kmaq Law Program at Dalhousie University, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre for over 20 years. 

 

Commissioner Becky Kent 

Councillor, District 3

 

Commissioner Lisa Blackburn

Councillor, District 14