Our Team

Bonnie Brayton 
Chief Executive Officer
She | Her 
admin@dawncanada.net  

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. 

 

 

 

Tamara Angeline Medford-Williams  
Director of Black Community Initiatives 
She | Her
tamara@dawncanada.net  

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. 

 

 

Evelyn Huntjens

Evelyn Huntjens
Director of Indigenous Initiatives 
She | Her 
indigenousinitiatives@dawncanada.net 

Alongside her role at DAWN Canada, Evelyn is also the Program Coordinator for Indigenous Disability Canada (IDC/BCANDS), where she has worked since 2016. 

Evelyn brings over seven years of leadership experience within the Indigenous disability sector, with a focus on coordinating and developing peer support navigation services for Indigenous persons living with disabilities. She brings passion and commitment to the work she has accomplished and she strives to advocate and break down barriers to support individuals and their families. 

Evelyn was one of the very first individuals to open RDSPs in British Columbia and she recognized the need for financial resource support in the disability community. Since then, she has taken the lead on developing and managing IDC/BCANDS’ award-winning Indigenous RDSP Navigator Program, which secures financial resources for Indigenous individuals living with disabilities and their families. The program's poverty-reduction focus ensures that individuals and their families receive the financial benefits they need and are entitled to.

Currently, Evelyn is completing her Masters Certificate in Project Management at the Gustavson School of Business in Victoria, BC. Previously, she has worked as a personal financial planner within the financial services sector, focusing on financial education and mentoring.

Evelyn is First Nations and resides on Vancouver Island, BC. Since 2003, she has lived within the ancestral territory of the Quw’utsun First Nation. Evelyn Huntjens is a member of the Xeni Gwet’in – Tsilhqot’in People of the Nemiah Nation located in the heart of B.C., and she has ancestry from the Montreal Lake Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan.

 

 

Kanitha Nhek (on leave)
Director of Outreach and Partnerships
She | Her 
kanitha@dawncanada.net

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.

 

 

Valerie Grand'Maison

Valérie Grand'Maison
Manager and Senior Research Associate
She | Her 
research@dawncanada.net   

Valérie Grand'Maison is a researcher, activist and mother. She is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Guelph, Ontario. Her research takes an intersectional feminist approach and focuses on gender-based violence, activism and notions of justice for diverse women with disabilities in Canada and internationally. She has also taught undergraduate courses on disability and gender-based violence. She has published scholarly articles and chapters on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities, femicide of women and girls with disabilities and the housing situation of people with disabilities. 

She lives with a visual impairment, a genetic disease that her daughter may live with. That's why she is committed, in her personal and professional life, to cultivating an inclusive community where diverse women can support each other and reach their full potential.

 

Jihan Abbas, Ph.D     
Senior Research Associate
She | Her 

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). 

 

 

Maggie Lyons-MacFarlane

Maggie Lyons-MacFarlane
Human Rights Officer
They | She
maggie@dawncanada.net 


An activist in the cross-disability community, Maggie joined DAWN Canada as the Research and Communication Coordinator in late January 2023.

Maggie identifies as having invisible disabilities along with being queer and non-binary. They have volunteered for more than six years in various roles with the National Educational Association of Disabled Students. Maggie is currently serving a one-year term with the association as past chair of the volunteer Board of Directors.

Maggie holds a Master of Arts in Education that focused specifically on critical disability studies. 

They live in Atlantic Canada with their spouse and three cats.

 

 

Ifeoluwa “Tomi” Adesina 
Research and Communications Officer
She | Her
tomi@dawncanada.net   

Tomi Adesina is a passionate and empathetic woman of African descent with a disability. She graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia with a degree in Public Policy, Communications studies and Peace and Conflict studies. She was also awarded the President’s Prize at her convocation for her work in communications and disability justice. Tomi has worked for several non-profit organizations in communications, child, youth and peer support as well as event planning. In the summer of 2023, she joined DAWN Canada through the Kate McInturff Fellowship in Gender Justice. During her fellowship, she contributed to briefs, conducted interviews, contributed to strategic planning and got to fall in love with DAWN Canada. She has been commended for her excellent public speaking and skills in broadcasting. In her free time, Tomi loves to write poetry, music and sing whenever she can! 

 

 

 

Christine Nirere 
Finance Coordinator 
She | her
finance@dawncanada.net

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.  

 

 

Kendra MacLaughlin

Kendra J. McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Research Associate and Project Manager
She | Her
kendra@dawncanada.net

Kendra is a researcher, project manager and advocate dedicated to disability justice and equitable access to care. With a Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Carleton University, her academic journey explores the intersections of law, psychology and social equity.

As a white disabled woman who grew up in rural New Brunswick, Kendra works to bring an inclusive perspective to her work, spanning sociomedical sciences, healthcare attitudes and social determinants of health. Her expertise is grounded in disability justice and feminist critical criminology frameworks.
Beyond her scholarly achievements, Kendra is a devoted advocate, drawing inspiration from personal experiences with mental health disabilities. She actively works to destigmatize mental health issues and improve access to care, demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity.

In addition to her academic role, Kendra teaches a seminar course titled "Criminology of Mental Illness" at Carleton University and has published articles on disability justice in Briarpatch Magazine and her Instagram blog @criminalizedmentallyill. She enjoys painting, indoor cycling, reading and trying new coffees.

At DAWN Canada, Kendra guides research initiatives to understand and foster resilient peer support networks for disabled women, girls and gender-diverse survivors/victims of gender-based violence across Canada.

 

 

Erin Dekker

Erin Dekker
Junior Research Associate
They | Them

Erin is a researcher, job coach, workshop facilitator, human resources consultant and graduate student with degrees and certificates in psychology, human resources and data analysis. They are completing their MA in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba. Their thesis focuses on queering autism and the heteronormative barriers to autism identification. They also support neurodivergent adults with developing self-advocacy and employment skills. 
 
Erin is a non-binary, queer, neurodivergent and hard of hearing person. As a collector of hobbies, they enjoy comics, video games, anime, sewing, yoga, strength training, paddling, snowboarding, climbing, camping and hiking with their dog.