About Us

Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally.

Founded in 2014, three of Canada’s leading sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations saw an opportunity for a strengthened voice in international and national policy, education and access as well as a way to engage others across Canada and around the world in the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement.

The amalgamation provided an opportunity for each of the three organizations to build on one another’s strengths and shared vision. While Canadians for Choice (CFC) and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH) would benefit from policy expertise and international partnerships, Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) would profit from first-hand knowledge of the Canadian sexual and reproductive health and rights landscape and a newly bridged gap between the national and global context.

Building upon the strengths of each organization, working nationally and internationally, Action Canada is well positioned to increase access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services and to comprehensive sexuality education in Canada and globally; engage, educate and inform governmental and non-governmental actors to create enabling environments for the advancement and realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights Canada and globally; ensure that governments around the world, including Canada, fulfill and implement their human rights obligations related to sexual and reproductive rights; and to strengthen and support the mobilization of a diverse movement in Canada and globally to advance a broad and intersectional sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda.

We work toward these ends through collaboration, policy engagement, advocacy, education and services. As part of a national and global movement, Action Canada also strives to learn from and exchange knowledge with its partners. We do this by collaborating with grassroots organizations across Canada and the global south in particular. Our associate organizations and Action Canada’s role as coordinator of the Sexual Rights Initiative, a north-south collaboration, play an important part in facilitating the organization’s research and advocacy on sexual health and rights. It is these partnerships that we depend on to strengthen our work and the national and global sexual health and rights movements.

Action Canada also offers a number of awards and scholarships. These awards and scholarships reward excellence in programs, and assist students in their studies in sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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Our Staff

Our team is made up of individuals with a diversity of experience working on sexual health and rights at the national and international levels.

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    Sandeep Prasad Executive Director

    Sandeep Prasad is an Ottawa-based lawyer and activist. Before co-leading the Action Canada amalgamation, he served as Executive Director ACPD for 4 years. From 2006-2011, he held the position of Director of International Human Rights Advocacy with ACPD, where he was principally responsible for advocacy activities within the UN human rights system. In this role, Sandeep established himself as a leader in efforts to advance sexual and reproductive rights within the work of key UN bodies and mechanisms.

    Since 2006, he has worked to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights issues receive greater attention from the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, including the universal periodic review. This work has included his active participation in the Sexual Rights Initiative, a small South-North coalition of organizations working together to advance human rights related to sexuality at the United Nations. Among other achievements, his advocacy was instrumental in prompting the UN Human Rights Council to include maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights issue in a landmark 2009 resolution. Since September 2012, Sandeep has served as a Member of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development, a task force comprised of experienced and eminent leaders and activists, which aims to galvanize political support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to ensure that international development efforts prioritize these issues, including within post-2015 development frameworks. Sandeep has also sat on the board of directors of Canadians for Choice, where he served three terms as its vice-president. He is currently on the Boards of Directors of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and the Asia-Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as well as the Steering Committee of the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights.

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    Ash Hunkin Office & Donor Relations Coordinator

    Ash Hunkin has been active in the pro-choice and sexual rights movements for over a decade. She lead the successful campaign to restrict pro-life groups from accessing students union funding at Carleton University in 2006. She then served as Vice President of Student Services of her students’ union managing the work of the union’s equity service centres such as the LGBTQ centre.

    As Vice President of Student Services she also successfully advocated for the Canadian Federation of Students to develop pro-choice campaign resources to be used for advocacy on campuses across Canada. After graduation Ash founded the Pro-Choice Coalition of Ottawa, and served as interim executive coordinator with the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. She then followed her passion for grassroots organizing into her work with UNITE HERE a union lead by and for women working in the service sector. While with UNITE HERE she helped unionize one of the largest food service shops in Canada by nurturing the leadership of women workers. She supported their advocacy for better maternity leave benefits, time off to take kids to the doctor, pay high enough to support their families, and other reproductive justice issues. Following her time with the union she joined the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, helping oversee donor relations, social media, and the successful Heart Your Parts campaigns of 2013 and 2014. She is active in her local queer feminist and disability justice movements, and is thrilled to focus her efforts on Action Canada’s donor relations to help build a solid foundation for Canada’s new voice for Sexual Health and Rights.

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    Ani Colekessian Communications Officer

    Ani is responsible for the development and implementation of achievable communications plans and strategies that take into consideration Action Canada’s programmatic goals, fundraising objectives, and organizational capacity. Before joining Action Canada, Ani was the Program and Communications Officer for the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, assuming a wide range of communications tasks

    including strategy development, publications, design, writing/editing, social media, website development and branding. From 2010-2013, she supported a handful of teams at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), from fundraising and governance to communications, and in early 2010, was part of the UN-INSTRAW (now UN Women) Gender, Peace and Security team, researching under the frameworks of UNSCR 1325 and security sector reform. Among other things, Ani is a freelance translator and passionate writer having written for Women’s eNews, Elevate Difference, Education for Change, the UPeace Monitor, the YFA Wire, and the AWID Friday Files. She was awarded the 2011 International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) prize for best paper and holds an MA in Gender and Peace Building from the UN mandated University for Peace and a BAH from Queen’s University, where she studied Politics and English Literature with a strong gender/feminist focus.

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    Sarah Kennell Public Affairs Officer

    Sarah oversees Action Canada’s engagement with government bodies and officials and supports the work of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, for which Action Canada’s is the Secretariat. Prior to joining Action Canada, Sarah worked as the Programme Officer with the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

    She has held positions with the Canadian International Development Agency as a Jr. Gender Equality Specialist, and with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Sarah is actively engaged in global, regional and national conversations related to the Post-2015 development framework. Nationally, Sarah works in coalition with Canadian non-governmental organizations to hold the Government accountable to meeting its international human rights obligations, domestically and internationally, as they relate to women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Sarah is a member of Forum for Young Canadians and the Women’s Peace and Security Network-Canada. Sarah holds a Masters’ degree in International Development, Globalization and Women’s Studies.

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    Brittany Neron Health Information Officer

    Brittany is responsible for overseeing the Access Line, developing information products and resources, and identifying engagement opportunities in the domestic context. Brittany also works as a liaison with local, national and grassroots organizations. Prior to joining Action Canada, Brittany worked as a volunteer on the Access Line for several years, speaking to individuals facing unplanned pregnancies and

    witnessing first-hand the discrepancies in access to reproductive health care across Canada. Having grown up in the country, she is particularly interested in tapping into rural communities and working to address the often disparate access to reproductive health care that exists in non-urban areas. She has also undertaken research with the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women focusing on addressing the systemic barriers faced by immigrant women in Canada. Brittany also served as the Graduate Student Representative for the Institute of Women’s Studies Council at the University of Ottawa throughout her Master’s Degree. She is actively involved in her local queer feminist and reproductive rights movements in Ottawa.

    Brittany holds a degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Gender Studies, where she focused her time on a SHRRC funded thesis project analyzing the link between masculinity and meat consumption from an anti-racist and decolonial perspective. She lives in Ottawa with her devoted spotted dachshund, Oliver, and spends her spare time riding her bike, writing zines, and playing music.

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    Jolanta Scott-Parker Director of Stewardship

    Jolanta Scott-Parker has made a career of working with small grassroots women’s health organizations and has worked in sexual and reproductive health services and policy for more than a decade. Before co-leading the Action Canada amalgamation, she served as Executive Director of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH) (formerly Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada) for 6 years. At CFSH, Jolanta was instrumental in ensuring organizational sustainability following significant

    cuts to NGO’s across Canada, while ensuring a national presence for the organization’s network of members. Over the course of her tenure, she was successful in building organizational alliances and establishing CFSH as a small but effective and important entity in the Canadian landscape. Jolanta has also held the position of Executive Director at Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region, a CFSH member organization, and Interval House, a local women’s shelter. She also worked for several years with the Canadian Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology where she worked in the area of International Programs. Her wealth of experience in non-profit management and governance has led her to offer training to some local boards of directors in the area of Board Governance. She has also served on a variety of Boards and committees, including the Board of Directors of Carlington Community and Health Services. She volunteers her time as sexual health educator and children’s program facilitator at the First Unitarian Congregation in Ottawa. Jolanta holds a degree in Communications from the University of Ottawa and lives in Ottawa with her partner and two daughters.

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    Autumn Corvus Technology Coordinator

    Autumn is responsible for Action Canada’s technological infrastructure, facilitating the important work of the organization’s policy and executive officers. A self-trained technologist, Autumn holds a degree in Philosophy and Cultural Studies and Critical Theory from McMaster University, and pursued graduate studies concerning the interplay of gender and technology for several years.

    He also has a long background in activist organizing and public policy work; he served, prior to joining Action Canada, in a number of capacities with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group – Peterborough and as president of the local riding association for the Peterborough New Democratic Party. Autumn lives in Ottawa with his devoted dog and grumpy cat.

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    Frédérique Chabot (on leave) Health Information Officer

    Frédérique is responsible for the development of information products and resources, including public awareness tools, as well as identifying research, policy development and engagement opportunities in the domestic context. She also acts as a liaison with local, national and grassroots organizations in Canada. Prior to joining Action Canada, Frédérique worked at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa as the Women’s

    Outreach worker and, subsequently, as the Women’s Community Development Coordinator where she focused on advocating for structural change and facilitating a proactive community response to women’s HIV prevention needs. She also sat on the board of HALCO (HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario) to offer a youth perspective and analysis on court interventions and organizational strategic planning. As a community activist, Frédérique co-founded and was active with the Mother and Child Coalition for Justice, a group of local parents advocating for prison justice and maternal health and rights for incarcerated mothers. She has also been active for the past six years with POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa – Work Educate and Resist), a community group advocating for the human and labour rights of people in the sex industry in Ottawa, Canada and globally. Over the years, she has served as a board member, as POWER’s coordinator, and as a community organizer. She had the opportunity to contribute to resource development, policy engagement, political advocacy, as well as public education. She is currently POWER’s Sex Work Advocacy Coordinator, working in collaboration with sex workers, academics and legal professionals to create accessible documents for both the public and for parliamentarians on the topic of sex work law reform.

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    Meghan Doherty Policy & Advocacy Officer (Global)

    Meghan has over a decade of experience advocating for sexual and reproductive rights in Ireland, Canada and international fora.  As Action Canada’s Policy & Advocacy Officer (Global), Meghan is responsible for a variety of research and policy engagement activities designed to advance sexual and reproductive rights in Canada and globally, with a particular focus on the UN Human Rights Council and its

    mechanisms. Throughout her career, Meghan has worked with activists, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, UN agencies and government officials to build support for a range of initiatives related to women’s human rights. Prior to joining Action Canada, Meghan served as Policy & Advocacy Officer with the Irish Family Planning Association from 2007-2011 where she concentrated on the human rights violations connected to the criminalization of abortion in Ireland, adolescents’ rights to comprehensive and confidential sexual health care services, cervical cancer prevention, access to emergency contraception and the integration of SRHR into Ireland’s overseas development aid policies.  Upon returning to Canada in 2011, Meghan joined ACPD as Advocacy & Communications Officer.  In this role, she worked in partnership with the Sexual Rights Initiative to advance a variety of issues at the UN Human Rights Council through resolutions, special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review. From 2013-2015, Meghan served as Communications Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia where she developed innovative strategies to expand the reach of the Office to diverse and historically under-recognized communities.

    Meghan holds a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from University College Cork, Ireland and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Queen’s University.  Meghan is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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    Makeda Zook Special Projects Officer (Domestic)

    Makeda is responsible for the development of sexual health resources and information products in the domestic context. Specifically, she is responsible for overseeing the completion of Beyond the Basics, Action Canada’s sexual health education resource for teachers and community educators. She also collaborates with other team members to research and develop health promotion programs including public

    awareness campaigns. Prior to joining Action Canada, Makeda had experience as a community-based researcher in the areas of social movements and community resilience, anti-racism policies, and LGBTQ+ youth engagement. Over the years, she has volunteered with both Planned Parenthood Ottawa and Planned Parenthood Toronto as a community educator.

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Our Board

Our Board is made up of individuals with a diversity of experience on sexual health and rights at the national and international levels.

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    Cathy Steven Chair

    Cathy is the executive director of Health in Common, a not for profit organization that provides planning and evaluation services. In addition to planning and evaluation, Cathy has expertise in organizational effectiveness, making effective presentations and creating healthy organizations. She has worked at the local, provincial and federal level and held the position of associate director of the Sexuality

    Education Resource Centre in Manitoba for 12 years, serving as the executive director representative on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada as it was formerly known. Cathy was instrumental as Chair of the Action Canada transitional Board and has sat on the Brandon University Board of Governors, the Manitoba Law Foundation Board of Directors and the AIDS Brandon Board of Directors.

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    Dr Norman Barwin

    LLD (Hons), BSc., MB., CHB., BAO., MD., FRCOG., FACOG, FSOGC.
    Throughout his career, Dr Barwin has dedicated himself to issues involving public health in general and reproductive issues in particular. His work as a physician, researcher and medical educator has had a profound impact on the biological and psychosocial aspects of women’s reproductive health and has helped to increase understanding among the general public, government, and the medical community of the importance of the family

    unit in society. Dr Barwin established a Scholarship in Women’s Health and Reproduction, open to students at all Canadian Universities. He has served as President of Planned Parenthood Ottawa, President of PPFC and was President of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, President of the Fertility and Andrology Society of Canada , President of the International Society for the Advancement of Contraception and served as founder and President of Canadians for Choice. He has served on the Ministry of Health Royal Commission on Long Acting Contraceptives and  on the Canadian Standards committee on Medicated Devices. He is on the Advisory Board of the Transgender reference Committee. He is Chair of the Lowy Council of the Jacob M Lowy Collection and on the Board of the Library and Archives of Canada. He is President of the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation and chairs the Ottawa Friends of the Israel Museum. He has written and co-authored over five books  in his specialty and produced more than 100 articles and chapters. Dr Barwin was awarded the National Volunteer award for his outstanding contribution as a volunteer by the Government of Canada during National Volunteer week. He was voted the best clinical Professor for 4 consecutive years at the University of Ottawa.  He was made a member of the Order of Canada, and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond and Jubillee Medal by the Governor General.  He was presented with a Medal of Merit by the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller Grand Priory of Canada for his considerable contribution to the field of medicine in practice teaching and to the community in general. He was awarded the Barbara Cass-Beggs Memorial Award in 1992 for Defending and Ensuring a Women’s Choice and Reproductive Rights. Dr Barwin was presented with the Jenssen-Ortho  Award  for Outstanding Contributions to the Family Planning Movement in Canada in November 1996. Dr Barwin was elected as a life member of the Ontario Medical Association in recognition of  his outstanding contribution to the work of the association Medical Science for the common good in Ontario. Partners In Research recognized Dr Barwin as Ambassador of Science for his contribution to research, teaching, leadership, volunteerism and example as a caring and dedicated physician.  He is a Patron of the Arts, a keen sportsman who enjoys hiking, cycling, jogging, skiing and gourmet cooking. He and his wife Myrna have four children and greatly enjoy their 10 grandchildren.

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    Dr Pierre M. LaRamée

    Dr Pierre M. LaRamée, Executive Director of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), has more than 30 years experience in NGO programming and administration with overlapping expertise in academic research, policy analysis/advocacy, strategic communications/publishing and resource development. In his non-profit career, Dr LaRamée has also developed strong geographical expertise on Latin American and Caribbean political and social issues. Prior to joining MEDICC, he co-founded Re:Generation

    Consulting, building on his career at International Planned Parenthood Federation – Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF-WHR), where he oversaw communications, media and fundraising activities while directing emerging cutting-edge advocacy programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. He came to IPPF-WHR in 2004 from the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Latino civil rights organization, where he served as Director of Development and Executive Vice-President. He previously served as Executive Director of the North American Congress on Latin America, a research and publishing organization specializing in US-Latin American Relations, and as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at St. Lawrence University. He is fluent in French and Spanish and has authored and co-authored numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews. Dr LaRamée holds a Masters in Political Science from McGill University and a PhD in Sociology of International Development from Cornell University.

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    Katherine McDonald

    Katherine McDonald, LL.B, LL.M, was the first Executive Director of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD, now part of Action Canada) from 1997 until her retirement in 2010. ACPD’s recent amalgamation with the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health and Canadians for Choice into Action Canada is a remarkable achievement and Katherine is delighted to have played a role in the merger as a board member of all

    three organizations. For more than forty years,since becoming a single mother in her teens, Katherine has been an advocate in the reproductive and sexual health and rights field and an activist in the area of women’s rights. Before joining ACPD, Katherine practiced law for ten years, going on to become the Executive Director of the Public Legal Education Society of Nova Scotia, and the President of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She is a Past President of Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, and a former member of the regional and international governing bodies of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), including acting as the Rapporteur of the IPPF Governance Task Force during its landmark transition to incorporate youth participation within the federation’s governance structure. Katherine is particularly proud of ACPD’s subsequent role in helping in the formation and development of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Katherine holds a law degree from Dalhousie University (1981) and Masters of Law from the University of Ottawa (2007).

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    Prof. Jennie Abell

    Jennie Abell is a lawyer, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Common Law, and former Director of the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research and work are engaged with questions of social justice and equity, including strategies for gendering international human rights and critical feminist analysis of criminal law and procedure. She teaches in the areas of criminal law, poverty law and women’s studies. She also works closely with a number of social justice organizations representing and advocating women’s interests.

    She has been on the Board of ACPD (now part of Action Canada) as Treasurer since 2011. She has been active in her union (APUO) as Chair of the Equity Committee (and formerly the Status of Women Committee) and as Equity Officer on the APUO Executive. In that capacity, she has been part of initiatives to research and improve the situation of women professors at the University of Ottawa.

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    Shiv Khare

    Shiv Khare, Former Executive Director of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population & Development (AFPPD), has been associated with ACPD (now part of Action Canada) since its inception and helped to form the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population & Development (CAPPD). Shiv worked with the CAPPD to organize the International Parliamentarian Conference on Population & Development (IPCPD) in Ottawa and worked to develop a regional and global parliamentarian’s movement on Population & Development,

    including the International Medical Parliamentarians Organization (IMPO). Shiv served as Secretary General to the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) and was at that time invited for consultation by H.E. Jeanne Sauve, Governor General of Canada, in establishing the Jeaane Sauve Foundation. In 2011, Shiv became a member of the ACPD Board of Directors. He also served on the Global NGO Advisory Committee of UNFPA and was a Member of the Steering Committee of Asia-Pacific Leadership Forum of UNAIDS; advisor to the Committee on Population, Senate of Thailand; and treasurer of the AIDS Society for Asia Pacific (ASAP). Shiv has also been associated with the organization of the Parliamentarians’ events at the International Conference on AIDS in Asia-Pacific (ICAAP) and Asia-Pacific Reproductive Health Conference (APRHC). Shiv currently serves on the board of the World Youth Foundation (WYF) and the Advisory Committee of the Population Media Center. He is a member of the International AIDS Society (IAS), the Asian Population Association (APA), the Indian Committee of Youth Organizations (ICYO), and the Youth & Family Planning Programme Council (YFPPC). He has received the Life-time achievement Award from the European Forum of Parliamentarians on Population & Development (EPF) presented by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde; the Certificate of Commendation from the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) presented by Hon. Fakuda, Former Prime Minister of Japan; the appreciation award for 20 years of contribution for the development of Parliamentarians’ movements by AFPPD presented by Ms Nobuko Horibe, Regional Director, Asia-Pacific, UNFPA; and the AHM (Germany) award for creative social work for leprosy, Munich 1992, as Secretary General of WAY. Shiv currently works as CEO of the Foundation for Leadership Initiatives (FLI) and serves as UNESCAP representative of Partners in Population & Development (PPD).

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Our Partners

As part of a national and global movement, Action Canada strives to learn from and exchange knowledge with its partners.

Fraud Alert

Fraudulent use of Action Canada name

Action Canada has been informed that someone fraudulently claiming to be working for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and/or ACPD has been inviting people to an international conference in Canada.

Action Canada is absolutely NOT involved in the organization of any such conference.

Any correspondence regarding Action Canada-related events sent by people other than the staff members of Action Canada should be regarded as suspicious.

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Contact us

251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 1X3

613-241-4474info@sexualhealthandrights.ca

Donor Inquiries

613-241-4474×8donate@sexualhealthandrights.ca
charity number: 10784-8319-RR0001