Impact stories

Putting the Pieces Back Together After Abuse

7.4 billion is the annual estimated cost of spousal violence in Canada

As part of the Foundation’s annual Campaign to End Violence, we’re asking Canadians to make a donation and send a message of support to women in shelters. It was the support and encouragement of others that helped Haydee rebuild her life after experiencing violence many years ago. In today’s blog post, Haydee shares some of her story and reflects on what she would say to her younger self.
Years ago, I was living in isolation land. I had made the difficult decision to take my daughter and leave an abusive relationship, with only a small suitcase and a few family photos in hand.

You Cannot Reduce Poverty if Women Can’t Work

Jahangir SultanaThis post was originally published on the Coady International Institute’s blog.

Sultana Jahangir has seen too many educated women lose their dreams. It’s why the Bangladeshi-born founder of the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO) in Toronto is laser-focused when persuading politicians and bureaucrats to do the right thing.

“Two out of three women who use our services have a master's degree, but have trouble finding work,” she says.

Shaneen’s Story: Seeing a Path to Social Justice

ShaneenIn high school, Shaneen Cotterell signed up for ReAct: Respect in Action, a violence prevention program that stoked her interest in social justice. As told to Jessica Howard.

In grade 11, my social science teacher suggested I try the ReAct after-school program, because she knew I was interested in the issues it covered. When I saw that the program talked about things like oppression, gender stereotypes, abuse, and healthy relationships, I signed up and stayed involved through Grades 11 and 12.

Elizabeth’s Story: Being Mentally Healthy

Elizabeth standing in theatreAfter taking a self-employment program, Elizabeth Anderson is turning her passion for public speaking and writing into a business that helps people flourish in spite of mental illness. As told to Jessica Howard.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the years before that, I struggled with paranoia and depression, as well as taking care of myself on a daily basis. I had also left university because I couldn’t keep up with my classes. By the time I was diagnosed, I didn’t know that I would ever recover.

The Big Question: When it Comes to Outspoken Women, Who’s Your Role Model?

Question markThe theme of our first issue of SHE magazine was "finding our voice", so we invited members of the Canadian Women’s Foundation community to tell us about an outspoken woman who inspired them.

Read their answers, then tell us about a trailblazing woman who inspired you!


An Oasis of Friendship and Safety

Paper chain of women holding handsWomen with intellectual disabilities are twice as likely to be sexually or physically abused, but most violence prevention programs don’t meet their special needs.

Thanks to a grant from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a program called Safety Includes Me has been launched by Community Living Toronto. The program is designed for women with intellectual disabilities who live on their own without family or other social supports.

During the six-week program, the women learn how to identify healthy relationships, refuse unwanted attention, and practice safe sex. They also learn basic self-defence, plus tips for staying safe at home, on the street, on public transit, and online.

Bringing Violence Prevention to the North

Girl smilingIn a classroom in the South Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, students leave their books and desks to one side, gathering in a circle in the middle of the room.

They are about to begin a warm-up exercise as part of the Healthy Relationships Plus program developed by the Fourth R, a violence-prevention organization based in London, ON. The Fourth R’s healthy relationships curriculum is already offered in 5,000 schools across Canada. Now, funding from the Canadian Women’s Foundation is helping expand the program into schools in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Making Waves: Ben’s Story

Ben LordIn high school Ben Lord attended “Making Waves,” a violence prevention program that continues to reverberate through his life. As told to Diane Hill.

In my high school, students who attended the Making Waves violence prevention program put on a play called The Many Faces of Abuse.* I saw it when I was in Grade 9 and got chills. The next year, I attended the program. When I graduated, I came back as a Making Waves facilitator.

The program opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t thought about before, like how a lot of relationship problems are about gender.

Michelle’s Story

Michelle and familyMichelle Lochan had the passion to be an entrepreneur, but raising five children on her own made it tricky. Then she got the right kind of help. As told to Diane Hill.

When you help a woman start her own business, you affect her children too. They want to mirror her independence and they learn to trust their own decisions. Improving her self-sufficiency also means she can leave an abusive husband if necessary, because she has her own income. That is the voice I speak from.

Advocating for women in the criminal justice system

Katherine AlexanderThis profile was originally published on the Coady International Institute’s website.

For Katherine Alexander, seeking justice for women in the prison system is more than a work obligation.

Alexander, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society in Whitehorse, was one of 24 women chosen for the 2015 Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership Institute at Coady.

Spending at least one day a week at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and once a month at the Abbotsford Institution, she works to build relationships with the incarcerated women. She advises them of their rights, helping to amplify their voices both inside and outside of the prison. She also works with other women’s services in the territory that help inmates transition back into the community.