Chief Executive Officer
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Bonnie is the Chief Executive Officer at DAWN Canada. She is a recognized thought leader in both the feminist and disability movements in Canada and internationally.
Ms. Brayton is the Partner Liaison for the seven-year initiative “Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development based at the University of Guelph. She is also an active member of the Gender & Trade Advisory Group at Global Affairs Canada and has been actively involved in international feminist organizing for many years.
From 2016 to 2021, Ms. Brayton served as a member of the Federal Minister’s Advisory Council on Gender-Based Violence (WAGE). From 2020 until now, Ms. Brayton continues to serve on Minister Qualtrough’s (ESDC) Disability Advisory Group (DAG).
Ms. Brayton is also a founding member of the Ending Violence Association of Canada and served on the Steering Committee of La Maison Parent-Roback,from 2008 to 2015. Bonnie has also contributed to several anthologies including A BOLD VISION and LIVING THE EDGES, a DisAbled Women’s Reader and the newest release (2021) from Inanna publications STILL LIVING THE EDGES.
A passionate cyclist, Bonnie and her partner Delmar co-founded Team Cerulean in 2018, a small group of riders and rollers raising funds and awareness for the folks in their community. She is pictured here with her beloved Sadie, a sweet girl from Beirut who has won the hearts of many neighbours, friends and colleagues.
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A scholar and activist, Samantha is the National Director at DAWN Canada. Her passion for disability justice is both personal and professional.
Samantha has cerebral palsy and she identifies as disabled. She believes that disability is an identity that is open to everyone, as one can become disabled at any time.
Samantha holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto-OISE. Her doctoral research is in interpretive sociology with a focus on disability and social inclusion. She holds a master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University, and completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of Guelph.
Tamara Angeline Medford-Williams
Director of Black Community Initiatives
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Tamara is currently the Director of Black Community Initiatives and has been with DAWN Canada since September 2015. Tamara is a part-time clinical educator at the Elizabeth House Foundation and a family worker in therapeutic services at AMCAL Family Services. She is also a director at Welfare Avenue, a Montreal-based not-for-profit organization that provides food and donations to marginalized communities.
Striving to help others become the best versions of themselves, Tamara has acquired a certificate in Family Life Education, a BA in Human Relations, a graduate diploma in Youth Work, and is currently enrolled in an MA in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University.
A community enthusiast and activist at heart, Tamara is a co-host of the Fall Awake podcast alongside her partner, which promotes the social awareness of issues impacting Black and marginalized communities, and facilitates workshops for both community and corporate organizations.
Director of Outreach and Partnerships
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Kanitha joined DAWN Canada in 2020 as the Community Outreach Coordinator, and in July 2021 became the Director of Outreach and Partnerships. In her new role, she works closely with national and international organizations to grow and nurture DAWN’s network.
Kanitha has more than ten years experience in marketing, communications, major events and project management in Canada, France and her native home of Cambodia. The driving force behind her work is the desire to create an inclusive community for marginalized groups, in particular women and girls with disabilities – the most underserved population in the world.
Outside of work, Kanitha sits on the Board of Directors of VIDA SANA and plans activities and events for the Centre Khemara. In her down time, she loves hiking, reading a good book, crafting, and most of all hanging out with her cat Baloo.
Director of Youth Initiatives
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Nelly Bassily is an intersectional feminist, sexual rights, and anti-racism activist and media maker with over 12 years of experience in the non-profit sector. Born to Egyptian parents in Montreal, immigration, diaspora, and identity also inform her activism.
She is currently the Director of Youth Initiatives at DAWN Canada and focuses her work on young women with disabilities and Deaf young women. Previously, she worked on the young feminist activism program at the Association for Women's Rights in Development. She is currently learning American Sign Language and co-hosts a feminist radio show called Des sorcières commes les autres on CKUT 90,3 FM.
Senior Research Associate
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It was during her Master's degree in Sociology that Sonia first joined the DAWN Canada team. She was doing research on the feminist activism of women with disabilities and DAWN Canada offered her a privileged research field. She chose to move to Canada to complete a doctorate in sociology with a concentration in feminist studies and research at UQAM, where she is conducting research on feminist anti-racist and decolonial resistance among French women of North African origin. She is also a lecturer at the Institut de recherche en études féministes since janvier 2021.
Within our organization, she has helped develop our research unit. Since her arrival in 2017, she has produced and coordinated research reports, parliamentary briefs and papers in close collaboration with Dr. Jihan Abbas. Over the past five years, she has developed a fine analysis of the articulation and interweaving of Canadian systems of oppression.
In addition to that, Sonia is an art lover in all its forms, a lover of people and their stories, she also founded in 2021 with Malika Rafa the theater collective "the weavers," bringing together people from different backgrounds in the service of poetry and ultimately experiment new forms of solidarity.
Jihan Abbas, Ph.D
Senior Research Associate
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As a researcher and educator, Jihan has been involved in the disability movement for several years and has extensive experience as researcher and advocate. Jihan works to bring lived experience to her work, including her own experiences as a woman with learning disabilities. Jihan is also a sibling and informal caregiver to her brother, an adult with Down syndrome, and works to support him in advocating for more inclusive and dignified disability supports.
Jihan holds a PhD in Sociology from Carleton University, and in addition to her work with DAWN as a research associate, she teaches in the School of Disability Studies at X University in Toronto. Jihan was also an inaugural winner of Canada’s Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.
When she isn’t working, Jihan enjoys hiking, nature, boxing, and a never-ending quest to replicate her Sito’s (grandmother’s) recipe for mujadra (a Lebanese dish).
Youth Initiatives Coordinator
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Yasemin is an immigrant, neuroqueer woman dedicated to bringing the experiences of women and gender-diverse people to the forefront. She strives to make spaces accessible, safe, inclusive and free of hierarchy. She recently joined the Board of Directors at Centre des femmes de Verdun.
Before joining DAWN in the summer of 2021, Yasemin worked as an instructor at a university and a translator in the video game business. Wanting to see real changes in communities after studying communications at Concordia University, she followed her heart into the world of NGOs. She now considers herself lucky to give voice to young, disabled women and gender-diverse youth on a daily basis.
Yasemin lives with her sassy kid and versatile Swiss-army partner, surrounded by the 34 plants overflowing their pots. Her hobbies are reading up on intergenerational trauma, psychoanalyzing everything, and inhaling her little dog.
Human Rights Officer
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Sarah joined the DAWN Canada team in August 2021 after completing an MA in Sociology. Sarah was drawn to DAWN because of her interest in women’s health and rights. She realized that disability framework was often underrepresented or lacking in her learning experiences, even though 24% of women in Canada live with a disability.
Before coming to DAWN, Sarah worked in research positions related to community development and women’s health and rights internationally and within Canada. Outside of DAWN, Sarah volunteers for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) and is working towards a Birth Doula certification.
Sarah was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD earlier this year and is learning how to thrive with her specially-wired brain. Sarah feels most centered with regular yoga and lots of walking.
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As a war survivor and having lived in refugee camps, Christine is sensitive to the social needs of individuals marginalized by contemporary world system injustices. Her long-term goal and passion is to assist and contribute to the healing of those in need.
Christine joined DAWN Canada as the finance coordinator in January 2021. As a bookkeeper, she is passionate about numbers and spends hours trying to find the smallest errors to ensure accuracy. This might make her sound like a perfectionist, but she considers it a “risque du métier”. Christine has more than ten years of experience in the financial sector at non-profit organizations, and before joining DAWN she several years at La Maison du Reconfort, a shelter for women experiencing domestic violence.
Outside of work, Christine loves reading history books, walking when the weather allows it and spending time in parks during the summer. She also volunteers in the local community as a listener to help combat loneliness and promote hope.
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Isabelle is a Montrealer and single mom of a five year old boy. She is involved in her community as a volunteer for the Feed the Hen community fridge. In the past, Isabelle has volunteered as a host family internationally. She received students from all over the world who came to learn French or English in Montreal.
Isabelle is passionate about her son, humans, music, drawing and gardening. Having worked in childcare and schools for more than ten years, Isabelle reoriented herself in office administration as an administrative assistant with a legal focus. Her return to school confirmed that she is not afraid to take on new challenges. Her determination, her life experience, her work experience, her training and her love for people make her the ideal candidate for administrative coordinator at DAWN Canada.