Expert Group – Specialists Working with Women Survivors



Alberta    alberta flag       


Jan Reimer 

jan reimer Whether contributing to society at large as Mayor of Edmonton, City Councillor, or private citizen, Jan consistently enables social development. Jan has served as the Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters for over a decade, and she is a well-known resource on gendered violence prevention and intervention. A founding member of both the Global Network and Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters (now Women’s Shelters Canada), Jan’s accomplishments have been remarkable and widely acknowledged locally, provincially, and nationally. In 2017, the Edmonton Public School Board named a K-9 school in the Orchards neighbourhood after Jan. In honour of its namesake, school staff work to ensure Jan Reimer School is an inclusive, caring environment where students learn the value of contributing and giving back to their community.  


Johanna Baynton Smith    

johanna baynton Johanna Baynton Smith is a survivor of domestic violence and has been a significant educator to health professionals, the justice system and faith groups on the issue of domestic violence prevention. She is a founding member of Edmonton, Alberta’s Community Initiatives Against Family Violence (CIAFV) Community Advocates project team and a retired nurse manager. She is passionate about ending domestic violence by empowering our communities on what each of us can do to make a difference.  


 Tosha Duncan          

shiva nourpanah

Tosha Duncan is the Prevention and Trauma Specialist and Therapist with the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter in Red Deer, Alberta Canada.  Tosha has 20 years of knowledge and experience as a frontline social worker, specializing in intimate partner violence and the provision of services to marginalized women. Recently,  Tosha was the lead in a 3 year national shelter project, through the YWCA Canada and the BC Association of Transition Houses, which focused on implementing a feminist trauma-informed, harm reduction and low barrier approach to working with individuals impacted by intimate partner violence.  Prior to joining the shelter, Tosha worked with the Domestic Violence Unit with the Red Deer RCMP for 7 years, and practiced abroad in Queensland, Australia focusing on families identified as high risk for neglect and abuse for a term of 3 years.    Tosha has worked extensively in rural, remote and urban contexts and obtained a Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Education in 2019. Tosha has co-presented on behalf of the shelter at both national and international conferences and is a part-time instructor in the Social Work Faculty at Red Deer College.  This year, Tosha jointed the Elizabeth Fry Society on a part-time basis, providing therapy to women through the Women’s Empowerment Program.    



British Columbia     british columbia flag  


Amy Fitz Gerald 

Amy S. FitzGerald is the Executive Director and formerly the Director of Training & Programs at the BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH). Previously, in BC, Amy was a policy analyst working on violence against women issues as they relate to the workplace and transportation in rural and remote BC. She has been a public interest lawyer for over 20 years serving as the domestic violence Assistant Attorney General at the Vermont Attorney General's Office working on unsolved homicides and domestic violence litigation, policy, training and legislation, as well as a Legal Services lawyer and Public Defender in Vermont and NYC. Amy was the founding chair of Vermont’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission and served on Vermont’s Child Fatality Review Team. 


Margaret Pfoh      

margaret pfoh heashot

Margaret is Tsimshian from the Eagle Clan of the Gitga'at First Nation. She joined the non-profit housing sector 25 years ago and has been the CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) for three years.  Margaret’s career has been built on her dedication to serve and support the Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia and she currently serves on both the CHRA’s Board of Directors and the Indigenous Housing Advisory Caucus. 

Her dedication to AHMA propelled her from President to Director and now welcomes in her third year as CEO. Taking her lead, AHMA partnered with the government of British Columbia to create the historic Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund (IHF).  Margaret has played an avidly influential role and actively participates on the national and international housing level. In 2019, she was a keynote speaker and panelist at the 2019 National Housing Conference in Darwin, Australia. Margaret was also part of a nation-wide coalition with the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha and Indigenous Housing and Service Providers from across Canada.  


Sarah Roberts 

Hi! I'm Sarah Roberts, from Victoria, British Columbia. I have lived through domestic violence and am passionate about raising awareness about the seriousness of intimate partner violence, and helping women get out safely, and for good.  


One additional representative from British Columbia



Manitoba     manitoba flag


Deena Brock    

deena brock photo Deena is the Provincial Co-ordinator for Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters Inc. (MAWS), holding the position for the past eight years. She supports the vision of MAWS through respectful collaboration with communities dedicated to addressing systemic issues facing victims of domestic abuse in Manitoba. With the objective of achieving better outcomes for victims of domestic abuse, Deena applies her extensive background in project management. She specializes in not-for-profit organizations and brings working knowledge of municipal, provincial and federal government structures. Prior employment has taken Deena to the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba. 

Along with her formal education, Deena has extensive frontline experience serving and supporting clients with a variety of social services. Through working directly with clients Deena has cultivated a deep understanding and appreciation for the process of growth. She believes growth is best achieved when coupled with an empathetic and respectful client-centred approach. 


One additional member from Manitoba



New Brunswick     new brunswick flag


Debrah Westerburg     

debrah westerburg photo After a lifetime of exploring different aspects of women’s community, in 1990, Debrah helped to establish Sanctuary House, a transition house in the town of Woodstock New Brunswick, and was its director until 2012. Since then, she has been the coordinator of the NB South Central Transition House & Second Stage Coalition. She helped to develop the Making Waves Project, a provincial dating violence prevention program and was the lead in the production of Building on our Strengths, a 500- page crisis intervenor training manual used throughout NB. She also wrote a Department of Education resource entitled Making a Difference – A Resource for Educators among other various publications. Debrah feels lucky to be inspired by the women she has met in her work, the community that has embraced that work and the natural world that helps heal the pain that comes with the work! 


Nigam Khanal        

nigam khanal photo

Nigam Khanal’s origins are in Nepal. She landed in Canada as an international student in 2012 and has a Masters of Philosophy in Policy Studies from University of New Brunswick, Fredericton and a Diploma in Women Studies from Nepal. Nigam currently resides in New Brunswick and has worked extensively to improve and advocate for issues related to women and children. She is one of the founders of the Immigrant Women’s Association of New Brunswick (IWANB), the first association to advocate for immigrant women in the province. She has worked as a volunteer for a rape crisis centre in Fredericton and also as a DV/IPV Outreach worker for Liberty Lane Inc. in Fredericton, New Brunswick. 



Newfoundland and Labrador     newfoundland and labrador flag


Dan Meades     

dan meades photo Dan Meades is originally from St John’s, NL where he studied English and Business at Memorial University before starting his career in community development and poverty reduction. Dan’s work has led him throughout Canada, Europe, the United States and West Africa. Currently Dan is the provincial coordinator of the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, an organization that supports shelters for women and children fleeing violence in Newfoundland and Labrador. 



Nicole Young 

Nicole Young is the Executive Director of Hope Haven, a service dedicated to providing emergency transition and supports to those fleeing violence and abuse.  Nicole is responsible for the operations and programming for the Women’s Transition House in Labrador West. Nicole attended The Maritime School of Social Work at Dalhousie University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work and is an active registered social worker. She began her career in the field of Mental Health and Addictions in 2011. Her focus and passion lead her to a role as a crisis intervention worker at Hope Haven in 2014 and she has now been in the Executive Director Role for the past 6 years. 



Northwest Territories     northwest territories flag


Lyda Fuller      

lyda fuller

Lyda Fuller has now retired after working for 35 years in YWCAs across Canada.  She was the Executive Director of the YWCA NWT from 1997 to 2020 and at the Regina YWCA from 1991 to 1997.  She began her YWCA career in St. Thomas, Ontario after moving to Canada from Baltimore, Maryland in 1983. 

In the north, Lyda led a large, multi-service agency with a mission of women and girls empowered in safe and equitable communities and focused much of her work on strengthening services for vulnerable women.  YWCA NWT operates two of the five women’s shelters in the NWT and built and operates its only second stage housing facility.  Under Lyda’s leadership, the YWCA coordinates capacity building in the five NWT shelters for women experiencing intimate partner violence, focusing on improving staff development and funding for women’s shelters.   

Lyda has participated in several research projects.  She was lead researcher and co-author of a paper investigating care seeking behaviours in Medicaid recipients, published in Medicaid and Primary Care Networks, Center for Policy Research, National Governor’s Association, in March 1982.  She was also a co-author of the East Elgin Literacy Assessment Project, published in Canadian Women’s Studies, Fall-Winter of 1988.  Lyda also led work for the NWT territorial report Being Homeless is Getting to Be Normal:  A Study of women’s Homelessness in the Northwest Territories published in 2007.  This research led the YWCA NWT to establish a shelter for homeless women in Iqaluit, now owned and operated by YWCA Agvvik Nunavut. 

Lyda is also an author of The Nature of Emergency Protection Orders in the Northwest Territories, printed in 2020.  The YWCA NWT has facilitated EPOs across the entire territory since their inception in 2005. 

Lyda Fuller has a Master of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University (1974) and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland (1971).  She also the recipient of numerous awards, including the YWCA Canada’s Cleta Herman award, and the St. Thomas-Elgin YWCA Woman of the Year award.  She was inducted into the Order of the NWT in 2019. 



Nova Scotia     nova scotia flag


Bev Walker   

bev walker Bev Walker is the Manager of the two Mi'kmaw Family Healing Centres in Nova Scotia. The Healing Centres are located in Millbrook & We’koqma’q First Nations and are transition houses for First Nation women and their children who have experienced violence; with an outreach program serving First Nation men, women & children across Nova Scotia. Bev has worked at the Healing Centre in Millbrook for 22 years, becoming manager of both Centres in June 2018.  Bev is a Mi'kmaw woman who loves to work with and for Indigenous communities, is a proud Grammy of 4, and in her spare time loves to create many forms of art and crafts. 


Shiva Nourpanah          

shiva nourpanah

Shiva Nourpanah is the Provincial Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, and a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph. She is also Adjunct Faculty at the Department of International Development Studies, Saint Mary's University and School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University. Her areas of research include refugee and immigration affairs and gender-based violence. Formerly, she worked for eight years for the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees office in Iran. She has published work on the ethics of refugee aid, women's human rights in refugee aid, Afghan refugees in Halifax, and the role of sexual and gender-based violence in refugee claims. Currently, she is researching the experiences of women with different migration and citizenship statuses in accessing support when fleeing domestic violence, and the role of advocacy in victimization research.  



Nunavut     nunavut flag


No representative at this time.



Ontario     ontario flag


Abi Ajibolade 

Over the past 25 years, Abi Ajibolade has been committed to end violence against women and children. As an attorney called to the Nigerian Bar, and with a Certificate in Qualification from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Abi is a social justice worker with extensive experience in women's and children's rights advocacy. Her role in the Federal government of Nigeria's legal system included playing an integral part in a committee involved in a nation-wide human rights legislation review. In Abi's current role as Executive Director of The Redwood, she continues to be a strong advocate and change-maker working to advance gender equity, social and racial justice, and ending all forms of gender-based violence. Abi's forward-thinking leadership and innovation in practice continues to be recognized.  In 2018 she received the Visionary Leadership from Ontario Office Victims of Crime and was awarded a scholarship at Harvard Business School's program, Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management.  More recently, she was awarded the winner for 2019 Pioneers for Change from Skills for Change.  Abi is a Registered Psychotherapist, Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Crisis Prevention Intervention Instructor and Commissioner for Taking Affidavits in the Province of Ontario. 


Deborah Sinclair   

deborah sinclair  photo Deborah Sinclair is an intersectional feminist social worker in independent practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada specializing in work with trauma survivors and their families as well as professionals and advocates who suffer the effects of complex PTSD/VT/Burnout. Throughout her career in human rights, public health prevention, and social justice work, Deborah has worked in many different capacities—as clinician, writer, speaker, trainer, researcher, policy advisor and expert witness.  

Deborah is a founding member of the Emily Stowe Shelter for Women, Women We Honour Task Force on Intimate Femicide and Luke’s Place and was appointed to the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) in 2003. From 2013 to 2014, Deborah served as a resource person for the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. She is the YWCA 2010 Woman of Distinction for Social Justice. On February 14, 2019 she successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled—A Living History (1973-1993): How the Experiences of Early Activists Shaped the Violence Against Women (VAW) Movement in Ontario: A Case Study—at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto.   


Julie Young-Marcellin      

julie young headshot Julie is a social justice thought leader with a passion for diversity and inclusion, social enterprise and community building.  She is a member of the Advisory Council on the Federal Strategy on Gendered Violence (working with Minister Monsef) and a Professor of Leadership and Community Development at Brescia University (Western).  She is the 2020 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award.  Her current research program addresses women’s empowerment and social capital, the financial and social inclusion of those experiencing poverty, and gender bias within the family court.  Julie is the past Chair of the London Race Relations Advisory Council, the Royal Bank Equity and Diversity Council and Londoners for Opportunity. She is known by her students as a professor with an interactive classroom that bridges the distance between the academy and the real world.  She is most passionate about launching the next generation of do-gooders and game-changers. 


Krys Maki     

krys maki photo

Krys is the Research and Policy Manager at Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) in Ottawa, Ontario. WSC is the national network of violence against women (VAW) shelters/transition houses. They are an activist scholar with lived experience of poverty and gender based violence who specialize in community-based participatory action-based research. Their areas of research include VAW shelters, women’s poverty and homelessness, and critical surveillance studies. They recently published “Breaking the Cycle of Violence and Closing the Housing Gap,” a pan-Canadian study on second stage shelters (transitional supportive housing for IPV survivors). Currently they are researching the rise of gender based violence and VAW anti-violence sector responses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to their work at WSC, they completed a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa in January 2020. Krys is the recipient of numerous awards including the Canadian Sociological Association’s Outstanding PhD Graduating Student Recognition Award and the SSHRC Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship.


Marlene Ham        

marlene ham photo

Marlene Ham currently works with the Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses, as their Executive Director.  Marlene began working on the front lines in 2001 in various settings including VAW shelters, AIDS Service Organizations and Transitional Housing.  She was engaged with grass roots organizing for many years to improve outcomes for 2SLGBTQ communities that culminated into the development of community resources and a co-publication.  Her commitment to addressing structural barriers brought her to studying anti-racism/anti-oppression structural social work where she obtained her BSW from Laurentian University in 2012. Marlene values the importance that education, evaluation and training can play in behavior change, improved advocacy responses and better outcomes for survivors of gender-based violence.   


Nneka MacGregor        

nneka macgregor

Nneka MacGregor is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Centre for Social Justice, better known as WomenatthecentrE, a unique non-profit organisation created by and for women and trans survivors of gender-based violence globally. She is also co-host of the engaging podcast – ‘What’s Your Safe Word?’  An international speaker and trainer, she has developed and facilitated training to various sectors. She was appointed to the UNCSW63 and  is an Expert Advisory Panel Member of the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. In 2006, she was selected by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario as one of 13 experts tasked to review the range of services provided to women and children in the province, identify gaps and make recommendations. In 2016, she was appointed by the Canadian government to the Advisory Council on the Federal Strategy Against Gender-Based Violence.  

Nneka is an advocate who works with governments, organizations and individuals to transform lives and build violence-free communities. Nneka sits on a number of Advisory Boards and Committees, including the Family Law Committee of the Board of Legal Aid Ontario and the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. Her research focus is on sexual violence and on the intersection of strangulation, Traumatic Brain Injury and Inter-Personal Violence, and was a recipient of the 2019 PINK Concussions Awards. She is also the recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction 2020 award for Social Justice.  

An entrepreneur with almost three decades of business experience, Nneka continues to support organisations develop their strategy, people, culture and community, with a focus on nurturing women’s leadership in business. She is the proud mother of three amazing children, Aly, Alexander and Christiana, and human companion to Basil (The Wonder Dog) and Renfrew, The Cat.  


Additional representatives from Ontario



Prince Edward Island     prince edward island flag


Danya O’Malley    

danya omalley photo Danya is a registered social worker from Prince Edward Island. She completed her Masters in Social Work through Dalhousie University. She has specialized in mental health, trauma, and gender-based violence. With over 12 years of experience in the social work field, she is a key participant in social justice work in the province. She is currently in her fourth year as Executive Director of PEI Family Violence Prevention Services Inc.  She loves learning and cooking. 




Quebec     quebec flag


Gaëlle Fedida     

gaelle fedida Titulaire d’un doctorat en droit de l’Université de La Sorbonne, Mme Fedida a travaillé 18 ans à travers le monde avec Médecins Sans Frontières. Établie au Québec en 2011, elle s’intègre au secteur de la défense des droits en travaillant successivement sur les droits des malades, des personnes âgées, des locataires, des femmes. Depuis 2015 à la direction de l’Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale qui regroupe 24 maisons québécoises, elle se concentre sur les enjeux politiques que vivent les femmes et les maisons d’hébergement. Mme Fédida préside la Maison Flora Tristan depuis 8 ans, qui offre 24 places d’urgence et 9 appartements de 2e étape, spécialisée dans l’accueil de femmes immigrantes à Montréal; et co-préside Hébergement Femmes Canada depuis 2019.  



Saskatchewan     saskatchewan flag


Jo-Anne Dusel     

jo-anne dusel Jo-Anne is the Executive Director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS). She is a long-time social justice advocate who spent two decades working front line with women survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) at Moose Jaw Transition House. She is co-chair of the Board of Directors for Women’s Shelters Canada, a panelist on the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability and served on Saskatchewan’s first Domestic Violence Death Review Committee in 2017/18. Jo-Anne strives to address the issue of IPV through public education, advocacy and collaboration with community partners and government.  


Nola Mahingen         

nola mahingen

Nola Mahingen is First Nations from Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from SIFC, now known as the First Nations University of Canada. Nola has worked with the Yorkton Tribal Council since January 2002. Most of those years were in the Justice Unit. Positions she held were South Justice Coordinator, Southern Court worker. In January 2005 she was successful in the position of Director of Justice. In December of 2014, Nola moved over to Safe Haven, a Women’s Shelter, working as an In-House Counsellor and Family Violence Outreach, where she became the Director of Safe Haven.




Yukon     yukon flag


Kerry Nolan      

kerry nolan

Kerry grew up along the Alaska Highway in small rural communities in the Yukon. She graduated high school and went to college in Whitehorse, where she pursued an education in social work. Kerry’s schooling was put on hold following the birth of her two boys. Over the next 20 years, her life took several twists and turns as she learned and grew through a number of challenging experiences. Her struggles with addiction, poverty, homelessness and abuse helped mold her into the woman she is today. 

Kerry has carried forward personal reflections on her own history, and her spirit of resilience, to her current role as Community Coordinator & Outreach Worker with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC). Within her role, Kerry applies her lived expertise to supporting her community’s most vulnerable. Kerry’s personal and professional experiences have prepared her to recognize and take action on disconnects and inequalities that exist within her community and beyond. For the last two years, Kerry has had the opportunity, through YAPC and Tamarack Institute, to take her own story across Canada. She looks forward to sharing her professional and personal lived experience on the national level, in the service of advancing social justice and social change.


One additional representative from Yukon