The Advisory Council consists of one representative from each of the provincial/territorial shelter associations. As WSC’s ear to the ground across the country, the Advisory Council’s role is to inform priorities of the network, provide recommendations to the Board on policy and direction, and serve as a peer support group for provincial/territorial shelter organizations.
Amy S. FitzGerald
Amy S. FitzGerald is the Executive Director and formerly the Director of Training & Programs at the BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH). In BC, Amy has also been a policy analyst. 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, 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.
Michelle Parsons is Yukon First Nations, a member of the Daklaweidi Clan of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She is the Executive Director of the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society, which includes a transition home (Kaushee’s Place) as well as second-stage living units (Betty’s Haven) in Whitehorse, Yukon. The Society practices an intersectional feminist response-based and dignity-preserving philosophy in assisting women (and those who identify as women) who are ready to leave abusive relationships. Michelle also coordinates the Yukon Women’s Coalition.
Michelle holds a Masters degree in Social Sciences and has worked in the area of social justice and advocacy for women and Indigenous rights the last 20+ years. She brings with her a wealth of senior leadership experience with an extensive background with federal and territorial governments. More recently, Michelle helped to advance the position of Self-Governing Yukon First Nations with the federal and territorial governments during her term as the Executive Director of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
Whether contributing to society at large as Mayor of Edmonton, or as a private citizen, Jan Reimer consistently enables social development. As the Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS), she has been instrumental in improving shelter funding, supporting action-based research to inform service provision and policy change and has been a strong advocate of the role women’s and seniors shelters can play in ending domestic violence and abuse. She was a key driver behind the first World Conference of Women’s Shelters held in Edmonton in 2008. Jan is one of the founding members of both the Global Network of Women’s Shelters and Women’s Shelters Canada (formerly the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses. Jan is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, and was named one of the 100 Edmontonians of the Century. In September 2017, the Jan Reimer School for students from Kindergarten to Grade 9 opened in Edmonton.
Hawa took on the role of Executive Director in 2020. Prior to that, she held the position of Director of Child and Youth Services within the YWCA NWT. Hawa has extensive experience working with families, victim services, youth, and adults with disabilities. She has worked in community development in Sierra Leone on a project to reduce maternal mortality in rural areas, provided support to women and children arriving at shelters fleeing family violence, and has worked extensively with people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and mental illness. Her wide worldview, compassion, and expertise is invaluable to YWCA NWT. Hawa has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Calgary.
Jo-Anne is a long-time social activist who has spent 20 years working front line with women who have experienced abuse. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS), she was House Supervisor at Moose Jaw Transition House. Jo-Anne developed an interest in policy development and board governance while serving as a board member on the Moose Jaw Thunder Creek District and Five Hills Health Region Boards for a total of 14 years. She studied visual art at the University of Regina and continues to create and exhibit paintings and mosaics.
Deena Brock is the Provincial Coordinator for the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters (MAWS). In addition to her diploma, Deena has an extensive background in project management in not for profit organizations and government sectors. The experience gained while working for Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments provides her with a working knowledge of government structure and resources.
Previous employment has taken Deena to the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and now Manitoba. Some of her work history includes working in a women’s shelter, crisis work, coordinating and facilitating pre-employment and life skills programming, employment counselling and business consulting plus volunteering for numerous community boards and Victim Services. Front line involvement directly working with clients has allowed Deena to develop deep respect, empathy, understanding and appreciation of the process of growth.
Michelle Petersen est une psychothérapeute (inactive) enregistrée avec le Collège des psychothérapeutes de l’Ontario spécialisée en violence et en trauma. Elle travaille depuis 2010 dans le secteur de la violence sexiste. Elle a commencé comme animatrice en matière de prévention et de sensibilisation, pour ensuite devenir intervenante et coordonnatrice des services d’intervention au CALACS francophone d’Ottawa. Depuis 2020, elle travaille à Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes. Elle occupe actuellement le poste de directrice générale par intérim.
Amber Wardell is the Learning & Development Coordinator for the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH). Amber has worked for over 15 years as a community educator, coordinator, social justice advocate and counsellor for survivors of gender-based violence and youth in rural communities. Amber utilizes an intersectional feminist framework with an emphasis on an overall lifespan developmental perspective. Amber’s work often blends elements of creative arts and technology to impact social change through evidence-based learning.
Gaëlle has been the Coordinator of L’Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale since October 2015. Prior to this, she earned a PhD in Law from La Sorbonne in Paris and spent 18 years working for Médecins Sans Frontières, responsible for international humanitarian programmes. She moved to Quebec in 2011, where she worked on a variety of social issues including those related to cancer patients, retirees, and access to essential drugs and affordable rents. She has also been the president of Maison Flora Tristan, a 1st and 2nd stage women’s shelter in Montreal, since 2012.
Manon lived in Europe and the Middle East for quite a few years, where she was involved with various women’s rights groups. As part of this work, she was exposed to the many problems surrounding parental abduction of children in her interactions with abused women who were in the process of searching for their children.
Upon her return to Canada, Manon continued her work on a provincial, national and global level. Inspired by her experiences, she completed a Masters degree in Social Intervention at the Unversité du Québec à Montréal in 2003, which focused on sociojudicial intervention concerning child custody in situations of domestic violence.
From 2003 to 2006, she was the regional coordinator of the Round Table of the second largest city in the province of Québec; the Table de concertation en violence conjugale et agressions à caractère sexuel de Laval. Since 2006, Manon has been the Provincial Director of the Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes. She works with her team to advance the mission of the Federation and its shelters/members, as well as the cause of abused women with social actors in the political community, through various forums, research and representation on regional, provincial, national and international levels. She also represents the Fédération as one of the founding organizations of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters.
Mathilde Trou is one of the political advocacy coordinators and the communications manager at the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale (The Housing Network for Women who have Experienced Domestic Violence). After being passionate about political issues for many years, she decided to make it her field of study and obtained a master’s degree in political science. After a few years in a large communications and public affairs agency in Paris, she worked briefly at the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale (The Housing Network for Women who have Experienced Domestic Violence) before joining a federal government agency as a communications consultant. A few years later, wanting to reorient herself towards a community-based organization and pushed by her feminist activism, she rejoined the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale (The Housing Network for Women who have Experienced of Domestic Violence) in September 2018.Upon receiving her University degree, Louise began her career in the VAW field working at a shelter for women victims of domestic violence. She was then active in various community groups for approximately ten years.
Katey Altman graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, focusing her studies in the fields of Psychology and Biology. During her undergraduate degrees, she gained both quantitative and qualitative research experience. Katey first entered the DIPV sector as a childcare volunteer for a Second Stage Housing program while still a student. Deeply moved by the women and children that she met there, Katey went on to work in several non-profit organizations, which included working with youth, academic tutoring, teaching about healthy relationships, and working with newcomer families. Katey dove further into the DIPV sector by spending a year providing frontline services as a Domestic Violence Outreach Worker, where she identified and strengthened her passions for social justice, advocacy, and raising community awareness. As of March 2022, Katey is the first full-time coordinator of the New Brunswick South Central Transition House and Second Stage Coalition.
Catherine Roy Comeau
Catherine Roy Comeau graduated from the University of Moncton with a Bachelor of Social Work. She is also completing her Masters in Social Work, focusing on the role of social media in sexuality education for young LGBTQ+ adults. Catherine has five years of experience in community intervention, notably through various professional commitments such as being a coordinator and administrative assistant with the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity. She also has two years of experience in the research sector in New Brunswick, as an assistant and collaborator including conducting research on women and poverty and the multiple realities of francophone women who are sex workers. Catherine is the coordinator of the Réseau des services pour victimes de violence du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Ann de Ste Croix
Ann de Ste Croix is the Provincial Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia. In this role, Ann advocates for and works towards increasing public awareness around violence against women. She espouses a strong feminist perspective and is committed towards supporting women and children impacted by violence in her province. Ann holds a BA in Political Science and a Master’s in International Development Studies, during which she conducted research on the political determinants of public health within Canada and internationally. Prior to THANS, Ann has worked in the legal field as a Litigation Paralegal and in academic research as a Research Assistant.
Prince Edward Island
Ellen Ridgeway has been working to end violence against women for over 20 years. Ellen has served as a board member and volunteer at PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Center. In 1993 Ellen became Manager of Anderson House, the Provincial Shelter for abused women in PEI. Currently, Ellen is Program Manager for PEI Family Violence Prevention Services. She is developing a Program, ASPIRE, to assist and support abused women who are oppressed, marginalized, and living in poverty. Ellen is also the HIFIS Community Coordinator for PEI and oversees shelters’ data collection on homelessness.
Over the years Ellen has sat on various committees to advocate for women. Currently, she sits on the Victims Services Advisory Board, PEI Community Advisory Board to End Homelessness, and the Board of Women’s Shelters Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Dan Meades is originally from St John’s, Newfoundland, 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; all the while, his focus has been on poverty reduction, housing, and homelessness. Dan currently serves as the Provincial Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.