YWCA Canada is proud to be highlighting inspirational women who lead incredible work across the country that You Should Know. Tune in as we celebrate their social, economic, cultural, and political achievements.
Ashley Lim is the Director of Counselling Services and Youth Leadership Programming at YWCA Edmonton. Ashley is a Registered Psychologist with over 15 years of counselling experience and is passionate about ensuring equitable access to mental health support for all Canadians. Her primary passion though is working with women and children impacted by family and domestic violence.
Ashley is a strong voice for change in our community, helping to end family and domestic violence through knowledge-sharing and developing strong community partnerships. Specifically, through training and supervision Ashley is supporting the next generation of psychologists and other mental health professionals on how to support those impacted by family and domestic violence. Locally, Ashley plays an integral part within Edmonton’s Community Initiatives Against Family Violence (CIAFV) and serves as the Council Chair for CIAFV’s Council of Service Providers. Nationally, Ashley has been an active member within the YWCA movement through participation in the Violence Against Women and Youth Programming Networks.
On the frontlines, Ashley serves as one of YWCA Edmonton’s psychologists, supporting countless women and families affected by violence both at the office and through first and second-stage shelters across Alberta. Ashley has experience working with a diverse population of clients that include adults, children, families, BIPOC and other ethno-cultural minorities, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and clients with disabilities. Under Ashley’s leadership, the Counselling Services team has faced — and met — unprecedented demand from the community, serving more people every year while maintaining the same level of affordability and specialized, long-term support clients need to thrive. With time and dedication, YWCA Edmonton is expecting to become the first not-for-profit organization in Alberta to offer a Canadian Psychological Association accredited Doctoral Internship placement in counselling psychology in partnership with the Edmonton Cross-Specialty Psychology Residence Consortium (ECPRC).
In addition to that, one of the initiatives that Ashley is most proud of is being able to offer remote mental health support to rural women’s shelters across southern Alberta. Ashley strongly believes in the importance of providing mental health care to women where and when they may need it most.
Lana Bentley has worked as the Director of Strategy at YW Calgary since 2016. During her time there, Lana has supported mental health programming across the organization. She has played a key role in the Mindfulicity program, an online skills training program that promotes mental wellness and psychological safety in the workplace.
Prior to joining the movement, Lana worked for Alberta Health Services for nearly a decade, primarily in child and adolescent mental health. An award-winning therapist, Lana started as a family therapist in eating disorders and eventually managed an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents. It was her time working in acute settings that fueled her interest to explore mental health programming in the community.
A believer in the transformative power of education Lana has proudly taught at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University where she delivered courses on mental health, counselling, and family intervention. Lana has spent her career creating impact at the individual and community level, a perspective that is maintained by her unwavering belief that everybody has the potential to thrive.
Lana shares her time with different boards including the Calgary Black Chambers, Youth Central Calgary, and the College of Opticians. Self-care for Lana typically involves playing the blues on her guitar, skiing at her favorite hill in Banff, or cheering on the Toronto Raptors.
Nina Wilson is Plains Cree/Nakota Dakota, living on Kahkewistahaw First Nation in South Eastern Saskatchewan. Nina is an avid supporter of both western education & traditional knowledge. Nina focuses on trauma recovery, traditional medicine, and teaching, to assist all who want a better, healthier life. Nina is a strong advocate for indigenous women as they grow to understand their nations protocols and the rites those protocols are associated with, so they can have a healthier identity. To Nina, a healthier identity, allows women to choose the environments they desire for their children now and in the future, to flourish in.
Adelle Blackett, F.R.S.C., Ad. E., is Professor of Law and the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Transnational Labour Law and Development at the Faculty of Law, McGill University. She holds a B.A. in History from Queen’s University, civil law and common law degrees from McGill, and an LL.M. and a doctorate in law from Columbia University. An elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she has been an invited visiting professor and keynote lecturer in leading institutions worldwide, and has been awarded prestigious research grants including the Bora Laskin National Human Rights Fellowship & the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellowship. She is widely published in the field of transnational labour law, with a focus on decolonial approaches. Her 2019 book manuscript entitled Everyday Transgressions: Domestic Workers’ Transnational Challenge to International Labor Law (Cornell University Press) garnered the Canadian Council on International Law’s (CCIL) 2020 Scholarly Book Award.
Her current SSHRC-funded research (Insight Grant) focuses on Slavery and the Law, and supports her general rapporteurship on contemporary forms of slavery for the International Academy of Comparative Law, in which she is an elected Associate Member. An innovative pedagogue, she has received the 2020 McGill Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching (Full Professor category) and the 2019 Canadian Association of Law Teachers’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.
To learn more about Adelle, click here.
Alexandra is the owner and founder of Sarjesa, working behind the scenes on the operational and social impact pieces. She is an experienced activist and community organizer focused on social enterprise and community development spaces. She has completed the ASHOKA – AMERICAN EXPRESS bootcamp for emerging leaders, and has been the recipient of numerous awards – speaking at conferences and facilitating workshops across North America. Graduating as the valedictorian of her class, Alexandra is focused on creating more equitable and safe spaces for marginalized women across communities.
To learn more about Alexandra and Sarjesa, click here.
Alicia Morrow is a Cree woman from Peepeekisis First Nations located on Treaty Four Territory. She is a mother to one. Alicia is the founder and CVO of The Comeback Society an Indigenous Led non-profit organization focused on amplifying Indigenous voices and culture by promoting food sovereignty, cultural programming, cultural collaborations, land base education and education and training.
Alicia completed her Bachelors of Arts, Major Indigenous Studies and Certificate of Reconciliation from the First Nations University of Canada in 2020. In 2022, she completed Indigenous Entrepreneurship Certificate from The Carleton University.
Aline Nizigama is the incoming Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Canada. Aline is a dynamic, multilingual leader with extensive professional experience working with equity-deserving groups. Her career has instilled in her an in depth understanding of issues affecting francophone and multilingual communities, as well as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities; how these complex issues intersect to produce varying degrees of inequities in the Canadian and global contexts; and how to address such challenges.
Aline joins YWCA Canada from Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto, the largest francophone multiservice charitable agency in the Greater Toronto Area, where she served as Director of Strategic Projects, Communications and Partnerships. In this role, she led the development and implementation of key initiatives, including the establishment of a new housing department, strategy, and associated services. She also led a regional multi-year anti-human trafficking initiative, and championed diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts, with a strong focus on GBA+ awareness raising and capacity building.
To learn more about Aline, click here.
Averie Allard is a Red River Métis woman from Treaty 1 territory. She found her voice through sport and her willingness to be open and vulnerable with her grief and struggles with mental health.
Averie is in her fifth year as the starting setter for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Women’s Volleyball team. Averie spent the last summer competing with the Team Canada Women’s volleyball program, something she had dreamt of doing in honour of her late brother.
Averie is a strong advocate for Indigenous justice on and off the court. She raises awareness for the MMIW2GS epidemic that is plaguing Canada. In 2021 Averie committed to walking, with her dog, Rory, and whoever else is willing to join them in support of the children that have been found on the grounds of Residential Schools sites. She has committed to walking 1 kilometer for every child found.
In her free time, she is one of three directors for the non-profit Waanishka, a group that aspires to create space for Indigenous youth.
Most recently, Averie became a university graduate through SUNTEP (Saskatchewan Urban Teachers Education Program). She holds a Bachelor of Education which has only fed the flame of her passion for Indigenous justice and anti-oppressive education.
Camille Esther Garon
Camille Esther Garon is a moderator, event planner, and a public consultant advisor. She is currently president of the board of Gris Québec, a non profit organization that raises awareness about LGBTQ2S+ communities.
Camille Esther has a political degree in Public Relations. She was a candidate for the last federal election and supported multiple women of color candidates through mobilization and communication efforts. As a public speaker, she has been on TEDxQuebec and has been featured at multiple conferences.
To learn more about Camille and Gris Québec, click here.
Lohifa Pogoson Acker is an Entrepreneur, Hair Artist and owner at LoDidThat – Hamilton’s one-of-a-kind Hair Studio offering unique styling experiences to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area communities. A dynamic individual with a passion for community development, Lohifa believes that each person has beauty and brilliance that should be celebrated daily.
Prior to taking up hairstyling fulltime in 2019, Lohifa built a career in International Development working on Health System Strengthening projects with Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department for International Development (DFID). As a proactive change agent, relationship and community builder, Lohifa leverages community relations, emerging trends and best practices from her previous career in Healthcare and current role as a business owner to offer innovative solutions to communities and clients. At LoDidThat, Lohifa‘s mission is to foster a community that is looking good, living deliberately, loving life and encouraging others to do the same.
To Learn more about Lohifa and LoDidThat, click here.
Nadia Duman is an immigrant from Guayaquil, Ecuador. She has been growing and loving in the land that is known as St John’s, Newfoundland since 2014. Nadia has a background in Geology and is an M.Sc. candidate researching marine plastic pollution at Memorial University.
She is interested in traditional/non-traditional knowledge, the ways we can make science more accessible, and community mobilization. In addition, Nadia actively speaks out and shares her reflections about racial injustice in her local arts sector through advocacy work.
Through her previous work with the YWCA, she developed tools for the “Immigrant Women’s Leadership & Employment Mentorship” project and training modules for the “Fostering Collaboration of Services for 2SLGBTQIA+ newcomers in Newfoundland & Labrador” project. Currently, she holds the role of Work Transition Coordinator.
YWCA Toronto Anti-Black Racism Committee
The YWCA Toronto Anti-Black Racism Committee started in July 2020 to support the needs of black-identified staff. Together, they are making a difference in addressing the structural inequities that impact Black staff and community members. The committee aims to encourage community engagement of YWCA staff to educate, identify, and dismantle racial inequities. The committee received the Raine Liliefeldt Anti-Racism Leadership award at the 2022 YWCA Canada Recognition Awards.
Members: Andrea Henry, Nicola Holness, Ashfa Darby, Maureen Burbick, Kim Quashie, Dela Aziavor