Board of Directors
Canada Without Poverty is governed by a Board of Directors who individually have experienced poverty first-hand. Their lived experience and that of many of our members and supporters informs our mission, vision, values, and work. Click here for the Terms of Reference for our directors.
Our current Board consists of:
Meris K Brookland (NB), Secretary. K has a BA with a concentration in Sociology. She has struggled with poverty throughout her adult life including working at two low-paying jobs simultaneously, living on unemployment insurance, and being on Income Assistance as a single parent. Poverty was the impetus for K to work with the Fredericton Anti-Poverty Organization, (FAPO) and to co-found the Women’s Alliance (WALL), a group which advocated for women who were on social assistance. Membership in WALL had only one criterion: personal experience with living in poverty. K is now retired and relies solely on government pensions (OAS, CPP and GIS). She volunteers with Fredericton’s Community Action Group on Homelessness.
Laura Cattari (ON), President. Laura is a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s Operational Steering Committee and Chair of its Social Assistance Reform Work Group. Her promising career in technology came to an end in 2003 with the advent of life long chronic illness. The challenges of illness and subsequent poverty have shaped her outlook and passion for social justice today. She works diligently to effect public policy change that empowers. Laura utilizes community engagement, television and radio appearances and program development reaching tens of thousands; locally, provincially and nationally. It was her great honour to be nominated in 2013 as a Woman of Distinction in Hamilton. For more information about Laura’s community and professional work see her website. Click here to read Laura’s Spotlight on Poverty blog.
Derek Cook (AB). Derek grew up in a poor household in rural Ontario and experienced first-hand the impacts of exclusion that results from a lack of access to the resources of society. Learning of the value of social justice, Derek has dedicated the past 20 years to social change – including assisting in the creation of local living wage policies and organizing the group Poverty Talks which engaged over 500 low-income Calgarians in the development of a local poverty strategy. Derek previously served as the Executive Director of the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, a community-based strategy to reduce poverty in in the municipality. Click here to read Derek’s Spotlight on Poverty blog.
Amanda Ens (Western Region). Amanda brings 17 years of experience working in government organizations, Adult education, facilitation, youth engagement, community development, Indigenous relations, and poverty reduction to her current role at Calgary Legal Guidance. Amanda has Cree roots in Saskatchewan, and is passionate about social justice for Indigenous peoples, and for those inequitably affected by poverty. Amanda has worked in urban and rural communities across Alberta and she is the proud co-founder of the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance. She also founded a national community of practice for the Tamarack Institute, dedicated to poverty reduction for First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples. Amanda is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Adult Education to compliment her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree. Amanda is the recent recipient of the Indigenous Graduate Student Award at the University of Calgary.
George Lessard (NT), Vice-President. George is a communication and media specialist that has travelled the world helping others learn how to use both traditional mass media and the new digital media. George grew up in a working class family in Montreal, and since then has lived in some of the poorest & remote parts of Canada following his studies in journalism. He has also trained many of the founding members of the first wave of community radio in Quebec. Currently he distributes relevant information on social and environmental justice in the Circumpolar Regions via Northern Clips. Experiencing poverty first hand has taught him that there are many ways to survive and many wonderful successes to not only learn about, but to help others learn about. (Biographie en français).
Wayne MacNaughton (NS). Wayne has had personal experience trying to make ends meet on social assistance. A firm believer in the motto of the disability rights movement – “nothing about us without us” – Wayne recognizes that solutions to poverty require engagement of the low income population. He has shared his message over the past few years as a Volunteer Inspirational Speaker with the United Way of Halifax Regional Municipality. Wayne is a bilingual community activist. He is a member of the Community Advocates Network in Nova Scotia, a founding member of the Community Society to End Poverty in Nova Scotia, and has been involved with the human rights network ATD Fourth World. Click here to read Wayne’s Spotlight on Poverty blog.
Ruth MacDonald (NL), Treasurer. Ruth has been with the Community Sector Council NL – Vibrant Communities program for more than 11 years. Vibrant Communities is part of a nation-wide program that brings together people living in poverty, government, the community sector and the private sector to develop solutions as a collective. Ruth has a Community Studies Diploma from the College of the North Atlantic, and has since gone on to complete a number of online and on site courses, including Applied Suicide Intervention, Prevention in Motion (Canadian Red Cross), Challenge Abuse Through Education (Canadian Red Cross) and Changing Minds (Canadian Mental Health Association). Ruth has previously served on the Board of Directors of NAPO and CWP.
Kate Mechan (YK). Kate has been working with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition since 2012, most recently doing advocacy and outreach within the community of Whitehorse. She also works on the Outreach Van – a mobile, harm reduction outreach service for street-involved individuals. She lives with her partner and two children on their organic farm, off-grid in a yurt just outside of Whitehorse.
Bonnie Morton (SK). Bonnie grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario and lived in poverty while raising her son. At the age of 33 Bonnie went back to school. It took her seven and a half years to go from a grade 5 level to a Bachelor of Human Justice. Rev. Bonnie has worked as an Anti-Poverty Minister/Advocate for the past 25 years with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry. In the past, she served as the President of the National Anti-Poverty Organization. Bonnie is currently the Chairperson of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues, the Chair of the Equality Advisory Committee of the Court Challenges Program, and sits on the Board of the Court Challenges Program. She has received the Keith Couse award for social justice work, the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, the International Helen Prize Certificate for social justice work of “Bolder Women”, the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal, the Elizabeth Fry “Rebel With A Cause” award, an award from Canadian Dimension, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal. All of these awards have recognized Bonnie for her work in the area of social and economic justice. Bonnie has been active since 1989 in international work around poverty issues, including acting as a presenter to the Economic Social and Cultural Rights Committee of the United Nations in 2006. Most recently she was a member of the “People’s International Observers Mission” in the Philippines. Bonnie is currently working on her Masters Degree in Justice Studies at the University of Regina. None of this would have been possible without the support and love of her husband Kevin.
Norm Skelton (At-Large). Homeless for 18 months in the mid-Nineties, Norm entered university and graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology and Political Science. Based in Fredericton NB, he is now happily retired, (mostly), spending his time polishing his website HomeFromtheEdge.ca where he attempts to entertain and educate himself and others on the complete and utter foolishness in allowing the existence of poverty of a Homeless “population’ and the accompanying preservation of a Homeless “population’.