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Grand Victorian Convention Centre

175 Derry Road E, Mississauga, ON

Mississauga, ON L5T 2Z7


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May 28 is the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. For over 30 years, this day has been recognized by women’s rights advocates and allies in the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) movement worldwide. Year after year, women, girls, advocates and allies have continued to take action and stand up for sexual and reproductive rights for what they are: an indivisible and inalienable part of our human rights.

Now, at a time when women’s human rights and particularly sexual and reproductive rights continue to be systematically violated worldwide, mobilization both within and beyond our communities remains essential, in order to resist any rollback on our rights and advance sexual and reproductive justice for all.

Please join Peel HIV/AIDS Network, Punjabi Community Health Services, Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse, and the Black Community Action Network of Peel on May 28; because Women's Health and Rights Matter.

Throughout the day, we will gather together to discuss issues and opportunities related to women's health and rights. Exciting and engaging expert speakers will explore a wide range of relevant topics, including culture-based paradigms in reproductive and sexual health rights, structural violence in healthcare, and women's rights.

Speakers will include:

Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone

Indigenous opening and Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Aqua the singer, songwriter, storyteller, artist, and activist is a strong Anishinaabe Kwe~Indigenous Woman, also known as Nibii Waawaaskone~Water Flower. She originates from North Bay where she was raised by her single Mom Waabishkaasin Kwe~White Stone Woman. Aqua is a two-spirit woman of mixed Ancestry; Ojibwe Métis with French and Scottish heritage. Aqua is committed to sharing Indigenous stories through theatre and is grateful to have had the opportunity to study Theatre Arts at Algonquin and Film at Humber where she received the Board of Governors Award for her dedication to her community and the performing arts . She understands the importance of gathering as a community to share stories and has learned that a beautiful way to bring people together is through live performance. Aqua co-created and collaborated with Cow Over The Moon and other gifted Indigenous artists on a children’s theatre piece to share the creation story of Turtle Island~North America. She composed original music to score the teachings and bring to life our traditions as Indigenous People.

Notisha Massaquoi, Executive Director at Women’s Health in Women’s Hands

Systemic Gaps in Health Care Services and Challenges

Notisha Massaquoi has been an advocate for women’s healthcare globally for the past 25 years. She is currently the Executive Director of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre in Toronto, Canada. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Toronto and is completing her PhD in Sociology and Equity Studies at the Ontario institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. Her research and numerous publications have focused on women and HIV/AIDS, increased access to primary healthcare for racialized women and health promotion /education strategies for marginalized communities in Canada. She is the co-author of the anthology Canadian Perspectives on Black Feminist Thought. Her work has appeared in such journals as Canadian Woman Studies, Wagadu, Canadian Journal of Infectious Disease and Medical Microbiology; Social Science and Medicine; and the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. She is also lecturer for the Faculty of Social Work at Ryerson University.

Ilmana Fasih, Associate Manager at United Way Greater Toronto

Panel Discussion on Cultural Based Paradigms and Women’s Health

Ilmana Fasih works as an Associate Manager at United Way Greater Toronto, responsible for the South Asian Advisory Council. With 22 years of experience practicing Gynecology back home, she is a passionate women's health activist advocating for the empowerment of women in reproductive rights, self care and life choices, including marriage. She also advocates for diversity and inclusion in a multicultural Canada.

In her spare time, she blogs, paints on silk, and uses art as a medium to convey empowerment, peace and diversity.

Tatiana Ferguson, TransFormed Program Coordinator

Transforming Service Provision - A City-Wide Approach to Gender Inclusivity

Tatiana B Ferguson is a Project Coordinator and Sexual Health Educator. Currently, she is working on a research project to better support Trans survivors DV/IPV at Metrac. Since 2014, she has been very active in advocating for the inclusion of Trans people and people of color in community programs and services. She previously coordinated and facilitated a newcomer support group to support LGBTQ Newcomers, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and has worked on a number of community-based research projects that uses art and multimedia. Her
lived experience has fueled her passion and drive to create alternative models of support and inform best practices for system change so that Trans people have a access to a better quality of life.

Nikki Browne, Women’s Community Program Coordinator

Presentation on Women and Incarceration

Nikki Browne is on a mission to construct social and systems change in and around the justice system. She is currently the women's community program coordinator at PASAN, a community-based health and harm reduction organization that provides support, education, and advocacy to people who are or have been incarcerated provincially and federally regarding HIV, HCV, and whole health. She is also the founder of Nikki Knows, a grassroots initiative that leverages the lived experiences of criminalized young people to build capacity for social change. Through a Nikki Knows project, called Project LUCID, she is currently working towards improving re-entry supports and outcomes for people who are or have been incarcerated in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Dr. Gursharen Virdi, CAMH

Women and Challenges in Accessing Mental Health Care Services

Dr. Gursharan Virdee is a psychologist, currently working as an researcher at CAMH. Her research focuses on expanding our understanding of mental health recovery for diverse populations, women, youth and individuals with severe mental illness. She also leads The Collaborative for South Asian Mental Health – a group of researchers and service providers who together are working to improve the mental health of South Asian communities in Canada. As an extension of her interests in culturally appropriate mental health interventions, Gursharan leads a program of research to enhance the mental health outcomes of young South Asian women.

Loly Rico, FCJ Refugee Centre

Presentation on New Guidelines in Proceedings Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression

Loly Rico is the Co-Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, with over 26 years’ experience welcoming and walking with up-rooted people. Head of the settlement services programme, with expertise in setting up a safe environment for vulnerable populations. She has been immersed in community work and has many years of experience working with newcomers in Canada supporting their integration into Canadian society with dignity. In recent years, she has worked closely with other service providers in the city of Toronto to develop a response model to combat human trafficking and to provide holistic services for trafficked persons.

Baldev Mutta - Executive Director at Punjabi Community Health Centre

Meet the Panel!

Sophia Brown Ramsay - Community Development Manager at BCAN Peel

Sophia Brown Ramsay began her career in the criminal justice system, working primarily with young offenders and women. For the past 15 years, she has worked within the field of community development and engagement, advancing an equity agenda to address services to marginalized peoples. She is a Community Development and Engagement Strategist with a demonstrated track record of building sustainable solutions within diverse communities in Peel region, including bridging connections between various ethnoracial community leaders, non-profit agencies, government, the grassroots movements. Currently, Sophia is the Manager of Community Development for the Black Community Action Network, a network of organizations and allies with a mission to promote equity-focused systems change and community empowerment through advocacy, community organizing and development, leadership development, community education and research.

Shalini Konanur - Executive Director at SALCO

Shalini Konanur is the Executive Director and a lawyer at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO). As a student at Osgoode Hall Law School Shalini worked at both Parkdale Community Legal Services and C.L.A.S.P. in the worker’s rights division. Shalini has been actively involved in several areas of poverty law reform, including lobbying at the municipal, provincial, and federal level for social assistance, housing, immigration, employment, and family violence reform. Shalini has also spearheaded SALCO`s test case work, challenging issues of racial, gender, and religious discrimination at the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeal, the and the Federal Court. Shalini’s work focuses on the promotion of access to justice for racialized communities in Canada and on addressing poverty for SALCO’s low-income constituency.

Zohra Zoberi - Writer/Producer and Executive Director of Bridging the Gap

Zohra Zoberi has been recognized by IAOTP as 2018’s Top Artistic Director of a non-profit organization, Bridging the Gap Productions (Enlightenment through Entertainment). Has won Literary and Performing Arts Awards from the Mississauga Arts Council, and is recognized by the government of Canada for promoting inter-cultural awareness about arranged marriages, rising divorce rates, cyber bullying and sexual harassment. She has also won Woman’s Courage and Ambassador of Peace award.

She is published in over a dozen Canadian and U.S. anthologies as well as has her own poetry book True Colours and Questionably Ever After (plays). Currently working on her third book—her own journey as a Canadian immigrant.

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Grand Victorian Convention Centre

175 Derry Road E, Mississauga, ON

Mississauga, ON L5T 2Z7


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