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.
Barbara McInerney has worked in the anti-violence movement since 1990. She is the Executive Director of Kaushee’s Place Housing Society and the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society in Whitehorse, Yukon where she has worked since 2000. In 2010, Barb began work with a coalition of women during the Review of Yukon’s Police Force. She remains active in the implementation and evaluation of a protocol called Together for Safety between women’s groups and the local RCMP, focusing on increased safety for women and girls, relationship building, policy development and training. She is an activist, advocate, feminist, mother and grandmother who is dedicated to the advancement and equality of women.
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.
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.
Marlene Ham has worked in Anti-Violence and Social Justice spaces and communities for the past fifteen years. Specifically, she has focused her energies on VAW, Harm Reduction, HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ organizing utilizing an intersectional feminist framework. Through her various roles as a trauma counsellor, supervisor, consultant and coordinator, she has brought a variety of communities together to address issues and work together to achieve better outcomes. Marlene is the executive director of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH).
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.
After a lifetime of exploring different aspects of women’s community, in 1990 Debrah helped to establish Woodstock Sanctuary House, a 10-bed transition house, and was their director until 2012. Since that time, she has acted as the part-time coordinator of the NB South Central Transition House and Second Stage Coalition. She helped to develop the Making Waves Project, an innovative province-wide dating violence prevention program and was the lead in the production of Building on our Strengths, a 500-page crisis intervener training manual used throughout NB. She also wrote a Department of Education resource entitled Making a Difference – A Resource for Educators when dealing with children where family violence and relationship abuse is a factor. Living on the St. John River, she 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 to heal the pain that comes with the work!
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.
Shiva Nourpanah was born in Iran and raised in the UK. She worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for eight years, before immigrating to Canada and making Halifax her home in 2008. She has since completed graduate studies at Dalhousie University and gained extensive work experience at the local universities. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of Halifax Refugee Clinic since 2011. She became the Provincial Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS) in April 2018.
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.