Nominated by: Harmony House
Leighann Burns has worked in shelters for abused women for almost 30 years. Starting as a rural outreach worker, Leighann began her work accompanying women to legal appointments and to family and criminal court. Outrage generated by the routine and rampant injustice she bore witness to has fueled her efforts to make change ever since. She was an active member of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)’s Lobby Committee, later named Social Justice Action Committee, for twenty-five years. Recently, she was instrumental in forming two newer advocacy groups: Action, Research, Change (ARC) and Believe, End Violence Against Women/Croyez Arrêtez la violence faite aux femmes. She began work as Harmony House`s executive director in 1994. When she saw how quickly regressive social policy could roll back any gains made, Leighann went to law school as her next strategy and has been practicing family law with survivors of violence for more than a decade. She has seen first-hand the impact responsive, informed, tenacious feminist legal advocacy can have on the safety and freedom of women and children fleeing violence. Increasing access to this type of advocacy for survivors of violence is the focus of this SWC project.