Dear colleagues and friends,

I am writing to share what is, for me, HUGE news. I will be retiring at the end of April 2024. It has been an incredible honour and privilege to have dedicated my career to gender justice. My career spans 37 years, of which 25 were spent leading national women’s organizations including, of course, ten years with Women’s Shelters Canada. Like for so many of you, this is a vocation.

Seeing WSC grow and develop to what it has become has been extremely fulfilling. I was hired as the founding executive director in March 2013. In August 2013, the organization had $11,000 to its name. For the first year and a half, I was pretty much on my own but determined to keep alive the dream of the provincial shelter associations to create this national organization that would bring them together, bring the shelters across the country together, and bring the issues of the sector to the attention of the federal government and national partners.

So many milestones in the first 10 years!

  • The release of the first Shelter Voices in 2014. We are now at our 9th edition!
  • The start of a decade of advocacy for a National Action Plan on GBV with the launch of the Blueprint for Canada’s NAP in February 2015.
  • The creation and launch of ca in June 2015.
  • Our first major grant from the federal government in 2016, which allowed us to produce More than a Bed, a foundational piece of research for WSC.
  • The first national conference specifically for shelter/TH workers in June 2018. Another one is coming…a pandemic got in the way!
  • Pivoting (to say the least) in March 2020 to begin to transfer federal emergency COVID funds to shelters. The first transfers went out on April 4, 2020, a mere three weeks after the country went into lockdown. In total, over $120 million were transferred to shelters via WSC.
  • Robust, ongoing advocacy on the National Action Plan and on the National Housing Strategy and the impact of the housing crisis on shelters and women fleeing violence.

Especially to those of you who work in shelters and transition houses across the country, I take this opportunity to thank you for the work you do to keep women and children safe, for your dedication and commitment to working on our long-term goal of ending gender-based violence. Finally,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing with me this last chapter of my career.

In solidarity,

Lise Martin