Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award

In May 2012, the Barbra Schlifer Clinic launched its first Spirit of Barbara Schlifer Award. This year, the Clinic is excited to present its 10th Annual Award in June as part of our online 2022 Spirit of Schlifer Campaign.


Do you know a remarkable woman?

The nominee is selected based on her outstanding commitment to disrupting gender-based violence and supporting women, those who self-identify as “woman,” including cisgender, transgender, intersex, Two Spirit and gender non-conforming folks, who want to build lives free from violence through increased access to justice and other systems. She is recognized for advocacy in the violence against women’s sector through her paid employment, community leadership or volunteer work. The successful candidate’s work will exemplify her understanding of the important intersections of gender, race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, geographic isolation/disadvantage, disability, and religious belief in building lives free from violence.

Nominate a Remarkable Woman for the 2023 Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award

2022 Award Winners

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Lise Martin, Executive Director, Women's Shelters Canada

Lise Martin is the founding Executive Director of Women’s Shelters Canada, an organization that provides a unified voice for systemic change to end violence against women while providing leadership for collaboration and knowledge exchange among shelters and transition houses across the country. Prior to joining WSC, she was the Executive Director of Women’s World 2011, an international feminist conference that hosted more than 2,000 participants from 92 countries in Ottawa in July 2011. For many years, Lise was with the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), first as a Research Officer and then as Executive Director. Lise is also a founding member of FAFIA, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action. She is the proud mother of three sons.

Dr. Jennifer Kagan, Physician & Advocate for Domestic Violence Survivors

Jennifer Kagan is a passionate advocate against gender-based violence in all its forms. As a physician, Jennifer brings her clinical experience to the table when assisting women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence and coercive control.   

Jennifer graduated from McMaster University Medical School in 2009 and pursued post-graduate programs in Family Medicine and Palliative Care. She has worked in an urban acute care setting as a Palliative Care physician where many of the patients she cared for were from vulnerable and marginalized populations who experienced deep and pervasive systemic racism and discrimination.

Learn more about Jennifer and her work

2021 Award Winners

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Abi Ajibolade, Executive Director, The Redwood

Abi Ajibolade is the Executive Director of The Redwood. She is an attorney called to the Nigerian Bar and has a Certificate of Qualification from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, National Committee on Accreditation after completion of Law School exams as part of the Canadian requalification process. For the last 20 years, she has worked as a popular facilitator and social justice advocate. She has dedicated most of her community work to empowering young people and women.

Christa Big Canoe, Legal Director, Aboriginal Legal Services

Christa Big Canoe is an Anishinabek woman, mother, and lawyer. She is from Georgina Island First Nation. She has been the Legal Director of Aboriginal Legal Services since 2011. She took a 2.5 year leave of absence to be senior and then Lead Commission Counsel to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa has been before all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada; represents families at Inquests; and has been before various tribunals providing Indigenous perspective and representation.

Previous Award Winners

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Elaine Craig (left), 2019

Elaine Craig is an Associate Professor of Law at Dalhousie University.  Through her impeccable research, advocacy and academic writing, including her most recent publication,  Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession, she has redefined the ethical obligations of defence counsel in sexual assault trials.

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Sunny Marriner (right), 2019

Sunny Marriner’s career spans more than 20 years of leadership in law reform for criminal justice treatment of sexual assault.  Among her most significant accomplishments is the implementation of the Philadelphia Model of Violence Against Women (VAW) Advocate Case Review to ensure thorough police investigations and accountability,  for which Sunny is recognized as the Canadian expert.

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Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard

Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard, is a proud member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, the first Aboriginal Trudeau Scholar, and has worked to advance the rights of Aboriginal women as the President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association since she was first elected in 2003. Dawn has been the Director for First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University since 2016.

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Loly Rico, 2017

Loly Rico is the president of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. She is married to Francisco Rico-Martinez, with whom she co-directs the Toronto -based Faithful Companions of Jesus Refugee Centre. Rico and her family moved to Canada as refugees in 1990 in order to escape political repression in El Salvador.

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Leilani Farha, 2013

Leilani Farha is a Canadian lawyer who is the Global Director of THE SHIFT, a housing initiative. Between June 2014 and April 2020, she was the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing.

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Geri Sanson, 2014

Founder and former Chair of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers, Geri Sanson’s exceptional work as a lawyer led directly to the establishment of the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, which has increased women’s safety in relationships.

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Deepa Mattoo, 2015

Deepa Mattoo is the executive director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. Previously, she was the Clinic’s director of legal services. Before joining the Schlifer Clinic, Deepa was the project co-ordinator, staff lawyer and executive director at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

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Fay Faraday, 2016

Fay Faraday is a social justice lawyer, policy consultant and academic who brings more than two decades’ experience fighting for decent work and decent lives through litigation, strategic advice, advocacy, policy/law reform, and community organizing. She joined the Osgoode faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2018. 

The Spirit of Schlifer campaign began in 2020  amid the COVID-19 pandemic to fund our essential services and bring together past and present supporters of the Clinic. Today, almost one year later, the Clinic’s top priority continues to be ensuring the health and safety of our clients, staff and volunteers. As an essential service we are committed to keeping our doors open, physical, and virtually, to women who need our help.