Called to the Ontario Bar, 1994
LL.B, Queen’s University, 1993
B.A., University of Guelph, 1975
Legal Director, Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre
I provide legal support to all Luke’s Place programs. I also provide ongoing training for the organization’s staff and volunteers and develop resources to support their work. I have developed a series of legal information workshops for women and provide family law training for frontline workers across Ontario, in particular for Ontario’s Family Court Support Workers. I have also developed and delivered in-person and online domestic violence awareness training to Legal Aid Ontario staff, clinic staff and per diem lawyers. As of December 2019, I had delivered this training to approximately 2,500 people. In 2018, I led research funded by the Department of Justice into family violence screening tools for family law practitioners in Canada.
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
I provide legal direction, writing and training for a national project to raise awareness among Canadian Muslim women about their rights under Canadian family law, building on work I have done with CCMW over the past decade.
Community Research Associate, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children
I am a frequent speaker on national radio and television and at provincial and national conferences on the topic of violence against women and the law. I have developed the curriculum for Legal Aid Ontario’s provincial domestic violence training initiative for family law lawyers. I regularly present briefs to legislative committees at the provincial and federal levels.
Consultant and Trainer
I work as a consultant and trainer with a number of women’s equality-seeking organizations on such topics as legal issues faced by survivors of male violence, sexual assault, record keeping, disclosure, duty to report, confidentiality and custody and access law. I provide consultation services to a number of organizations with respect to policy development and have developed and delivered strategic planning and Board development to women’s organizations in Ontario and beyond.
Member, Ontario’s Violence Against Women Roundtable
This group of 25 provincial experts provided advice to the provincial government on policy and legislative matters related to violence against women. I co-chaired the Roundtable in 2018, until it was disbanded by the government in October 2018.
Curriculum Developer and Project Coordinator, Law Commission of Ontario
I led a project to develop violence against women curriculum modules for use in Ontario law schools.
Member, Domestic Violence Advisory Council, Ontario
I was one of 13 experts appointed by Order in Council to provide expert advice to the Minister Responsible for Women with respect to improving the quality of services for abused women and their children in Ontario. Our report, Transforming our Communities, was used by the government in the development of policies, programs and services.
Member, Management Committee, Family Law Education for Women Project (FLEW)
FLEW is the largest public legal information project of its kind in Canada. It has produced plain language legal information on 12 areas of family law in 12 languages and multiple formats, with a focus on the needs of marginalized and vulnerable women.
Teaching Faculty and Planning Committee Member, National Judicial Institute (NJI)
I worked with senior Justices and NJI staff in the development and delivery of skills development programs for judges on the topic of domestic violence.
Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, YWCA Canada
My primary responsibilities included development of a public policy analysis framework, government relations, an advocacy strategy and research on issues relevant to the equality of girls and women to support national, regional and local advocacy by YWCA Canada and its 35 Member Associations across Canada.
Transitional Executive Director, NAWL
I worked as NAWL’s part-time Executive Director as the organization moved into dormancy mode due to mandate changes at Status of Women Canada that rendered NAWL ineligible for ongoing funding.
Legal Director, METRAC and the Ontario Women’s Justice Network (OWJN)
- policy analysis of women’s equality issues
- law reform consultation with all levels of government
- training and education sessions for police, Crown Attorneys and other professionals
- development and delivery of legal information teaching materials for use by abused women and women’s shelter and sexual assault centre workers
- production of legal material for the OWJN website (owjn.org)
- collaborative work with other anti-violence organizations
- extensive media liaison work
- staff and student placement supervision
- funding proposals and budget management
- participation in a wide variety of community- and government- based advisory committees
Family Law Reform Coordinator, NAWL
I coordinated a national education and lobby campaign focused on family law reform. This work included development of materials, training of activists across the country and development and presentation of an analysis brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The campaign focused on the impact of custody and access laws on women and children leaving violent situations.
Transitional Executive Director, Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), Toronto, Ontario
In 2001, METRAC began transitioning to an organization with an Executive Director structure. I took on the E.D. responsibilities in a transitional capacity while the organization explored this structural change and sought funding for a permanent position.
Sole Practitioner, Kingston, Ontario
I had a general practice that focussed on providing legal services to women in or leaving abusive relationships. This was primarily family law, but also included criminal and child protection work.
Prizes, Awards and Scholarships
The J.A. Corry Distinguished Alumni Award
Recipient 2020 for “groundbreaking work in the area of violence against women and the law and unique and important contributions to the legal profession.”
The Guthrie Award, Law Foundation of Ontario
Recipient 2019 for “exceptional access to justice advocacy on behalf of women.”
The Laura Legge Award, Law Society of Ontario
Recipient 2019 for “Extraordinary achievement and leadership in the advancement of women’s equality in Canada.”
Ministry of the Attorney General Victim Services Award of Distinction
Recipient 2015 for my exceptional achievements in supporting survivors of male violence, in particular, my work supporting women who had been subjected to domestic violence.
YWCA Toronto Woman of Distinction 2006
For Legal Reform. The YWCA noted, in particular, work on a national level for custody law reform, leadership role in the No Religious Arbitration Coalition in Ontario, work providing legal information to isolated and marginalized women and mentorship of young women law students, “whose moral compasses have been set working under her tutelage.”
Linda Clippingdale Award, 2001
One award made annually by the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women for “her commitment to feminist change, by her spirit, energy and good judgment.” The Institute commented particularly on my mentoring role for young women.
A.A. Heaps Scholarship
One scholarship awarded nationally by the Canadian Labour Congress for a student in any discipline at the undergraduate or graduate level who “through their work or their involvement in the community has demonstrated maturity and commitment to the social ideals which characterized the life of A.A. Heaps.”