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Over the last decade, I have become increasingly concerned about the erosion of freedom in Canada, especially when it comes to matters of conscience. There is no longer a ‘live and let live’ mindset. Instead, everyone is under growing pressure to conform to the dominant secular worldview.

My convictions ultimately compelled me to leave my career in the charitable sector in order to help those whose freedoms are being violated.

The First Freedoms Foundation was incorporated in November 2021 to advance freedom in theory and practice. This includes publishing honest and open discussions, hosting events, and taking on legal challenges. As a non-profit rather than a charity, First Freedoms is also able to speak into the political sphere without compromise.

Barry W. Bussey

2022 Prospectus

Why is freedom so essential?

What is our vision for the future?

Learn more about our commitments and upcoming activities.


Barry W. Bussey

President & CEO of the First Freedoms Foundation

For Barry, the First Freedoms Foundation represents the culmination of more than twenty-eight years of experience in advocating for civil liberties.

Called to the Newfoundland Bar in 1993, and the Ontario Bar in 1996, Barry has devoted his career – both in private practice and the charitable sector – to defending conscience. He has served as intervenor counsel in multiple cases involving religious liberty in Canada. Barry has also advocated for religious and charitable interests before provincial and federal governments, and represented the International Religious Liberty Association at the United Nations in New York and Geneva.

Barry has a profound respect for individual human dignity, and his desire is to find ways for all to “share the same real estate” in peace.

Having studied extensively in the fields of law, religion, and political science, Barry has edited or co-edited four books on law and religion – including The Inherence of Human Dignity with Angus Menuge (Anthem Press 2021) – and has published a growing number of law review articles. You may follow his academic writing at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1667202.

Amy Ross

Research and Writing Assistant 

With a background in education, Amy is dedicated to supporting the Foundation through research, writing assistance, and administrative work.

Amy completed a B.A. and B.Ed. at the University of Lethbridge, where she was awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal for highest academic standing in an undergraduate degree. She then went on to earn her M.St. at the prestigious University of Oxford in England.

Although she currently calls Alberta home, Amy has studied and worked around the world. Living in countries with limited political or religious freedoms has given Amy a strong appreciation for the importance of civil liberties.

LaVonna Bussey

Head of Finance

LaVonna has a lifetime of experience in logistics.  She homeschooled her three children from kindergarten to grade VIII while maintaining a busy piano studio.

In addition to receiving her A.R.C.T. (Piano Pedagogy) from the Royal Conservatory of Music, she holds a B.A. from Burman University in Alberta.

Piano and music theory remains a passion for her as she assists First Freedoms Foundation as Head of Finance.

Growing up in a religiously devout family, LaVonna’s commitment to conscience and political freedom runs deep in her experience.

Robert Yeager

Board Secretary

Robert Yeager is one of the best-known and longest-serving employment lawyers in Vancouver. He has taken employment law cases to the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Court of Appeal of British Columbia; In addition to appearing before various employment-related tribunals and the Federal Court of Canada. He is also is a trained mediator who has successfully concluded cases in mediation. As one of Vancouver’s leading employment lawyers, over more than 20 years he has played a role in developing the law of employment in British Columbia. He is respected by his colleagues and opponents for his knowledge, strategy, experience, and powerful court presence. His clients appreciate his attention to detail and courtesy, regardless of the size of their case.

Robert graduated from the University of British Columbia with an honours degree in history, and obtained his law degree from the University of Western Ontario. He worked at two large law firms in Vancouver before establishing his own practice focused on employment law in 1996.

He is a long-time resident of the North Shore, an avid skier, gym member, and championship race car driver. He has given up on golf.

Jonathan Martin

Board Treasurer

Jonathan studied at Université de Sherbrooke and holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Doctor of Laws (J.D.). He has been a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan since 2015 and of the Law Society of New Brunswick since September, 2020.

He worked for 2 years primarily doing family law, followed by three years in the civil litigation department of a large national firm, where he also edited their construction law newsletter. He has represented clients all over Canada and has appeared in the Courts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick. He has been involved in several matters at the Supreme Court of Canada and has appeared twice as co-counsel before Canada’s highest court. He regularly appears before the Woodstock Court of Queen’s bench.


We defend the civil rights of everyone:

  • To free speech
  • To the natural and inalienable right of freedom of conscience
  • To worship or not to worship; to adopt a religion or belief of their choice; to manifest their convictions in observance and teaching and in community, subject only to respect for the equivalent rights of others
  • To maintain bodily integrity from imposition of any government act that violates individual human dignity
  • To be treated equally according to the rule of law

The Foundation adheres to principles of respect in its advocacy to government and civil society.



While we are motivated by the Christian moral and ethical framework, we encourage participation from all faiths and disciplines to ensure there is a greater understanding of the first freedoms.



We advocate tolerance and respect in working with people from different political or religious perspectives or academic disciplines. Respect for “other” views is the only sure way to promote and engage in open and honest dialogue.


It is our desire to encourage the development of academic expertise in understanding the relationship between first freedoms and our democracy. Research is to be conducted and presented with integrity.

Statement of Beliefs

  • First freedoms are natural rights inherent to every human being
  • Government is mandated to protect all first freedoms
  • Citizens are to respect, support, and obey the government
  • Citizens should use lawful and honorable means to prevent the reduction of first freedoms

Your Donations Make a HUGE Impact

First Freedoms Foundation Commitment

Freedom in Canada is under increased pressure. While COVID-19 amplified the trend, the pandemic is not the only cause for concern. Social and political extremes are deeply entrenched, and civil peace is harder to maintain. Mutual respect and tolerance erode in a climate of conformity, cancel culture and divisive identity politics and fear.

The First Freedoms Foundation commits to look beyond the immediate crisis to confront the root causes. Our society’s health and our citizens’ wellbeing require a renewed understanding and respect for the foundational freedoms of all Canadians.

We commit to speaking out when the state attempts to stifle dissent or dictate against the first freedoms of speech, conscience and the inviolability of the person.

Together, we must be vigilant in safeguarding a space for individual conscience against the impositions of a powerful state. Join with us as we advance the original freedoms through public advocacy and litigation.

Your contribution will have a tremendous impact.

Barry W. Bussey