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.
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.
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.
Reanna Osbourne (BC). Reanna grew up in the small northern community of Haines Junction, Yukon and was raised by a strong and loving single mother. In young adulthood, she overcame some serious addiction and mental health issues. Over the years, she acquired certificates in Early Childhood Education and Northern Justice and Criminology and a Bachelor of Northern Social Work. She lived and worked in the remote fly in community of Old Crow, Yukon for several years. She was the co-chair of the Yukon anti-Poverty Coalition from 2011-2014 and the Yukon Director for Canada Without Poverty from 2008-2014. She recently moved to Terrace, BC and is a Guardianship Social Worker with Nisga’a Child and Family Services. Her goal is to eventually pursue a Master’s degree in Aboriginal Law.
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’.
Regina (Gina)Younker (Prince Edward Island). Gina is an Islander by choice, she has lived in Prince Edward Island for over 30 years. Gina is a local anti-poverty advocate who has been working and volunteer in her community for many years. Gina has been involved with Adventure Group, Women’s Network PEI’s Paths to Prosperity project, PEI’s poverty reduction advisory council, housing council and was recently appointed to the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Gina is a passionate advocate especially for women, mothers and children experiencing poverty. Gina lives with her dog Morgan in Cornwall, PEI. She is the proud mother of three grown children and grandmother to Savannah and Spencer. She is grateful to be part of Canada Without Poverty and looks forward to contributing to the important work of the organization across the country.