Our Team

National Office

Emilie Coyle, Executive Director

Emilie brings over 15 years of leadership and management experience in the non-profit sector to her role as Executive Director of CAEFS. Her experience in civil society has taken her from Canada’s west, to the east, and she now makes her home in Ottawa with her two children – Maia and Niko – and her partner, Adam. Emilie is passionate about the power of community and actively pursues ways to animate community-building. This includes supporting the essential on-the-groundwork of the many Elizabeth Fry Societies across the country. She has a BA in International Studies, a Master of Education, and a Juris Doctor in law. She also loves a good book and welcomes suggestions for ones to add to her ever-growing collection.

Jackie Omstead, National Coordinator

Jackie began her work with the Elizabeth Fry network in 2017 – first as a volunteer, then as a local staff, then as a regional coordinator and regional advocate. Jackie is invested in justice for criminalized people both inside and outside of prison. She began working with incarcerated people through the arts, primarily as a founding member of Confluence Arts Collective, which was preceded by other arts projects in prisons including with people incarcerated at the Grand Valley Institution, the Joyceville Institution, and the Beaver Creek Institution. In addition to her work with EFry and Confluence, she has worked as a freelance lecturer, facilitator, and artist. She holds a MA in Criminology and Social Justice – with a focus on Public Policy – from Ryerson University. Her work is informed by a commitment to abolishing prisons and carcerality, and sustained through building and being a part of caring communities, especially queer ones.

Jaya Bordeleau-Cass, Legal Researcher & Policy Analyst

Currently residing on unceded Algonquin territory (in Ottawa, Ontario), Jaya is passionate about building stronger, healthier and more welcoming communities. Jaya holds a Juris Doctor in law and completed her articling at Amnesty International Canada. She has developed her legal advocacy skills through enriching opportunities with the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, Capital Rainbow Refuge, and as a caseworker and legal educator at the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic and the Wellington Community Law Centre in Aotearoa (New-Zealand).

Jaya has also been involved in several initiatives that prioritize human rights, equity, education, and dismantling systems of oppression at local, national and international levels. These include engaging in refugee resettlement in Ottawa and Aotearoa; facilitating dialogue and relationship-building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth with Canadian Roots Exchange; and providing academic support to Inuit students at Nunavut Sivuniksavut.

In her current role as Legal Research and Policy analyst with CAEFS, Jaya strives to continue learning from and working in solidarity with communities impacted by the criminal justice system and state violence.  

Patti Tait, Special Projects Advisor

Patti Tait is an Aboriginal woman who began working in the helping field more than 30 years ago. She worked extensively within federal and provincial prisons counselling and supporting Indigenous men and women. Patti was a Native Liaison at Prison for Women. She has often been called upon as an expert on the issues faced by First Nations, Metis, Inuit and unregistered Indigenous offenders. Patti has been a member the Canadian Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Network (CAAN) and was an original member of the Advisory Council for All Nations Hope AIDS Network. throughout her career she has been committed to Indigenous people who have come in conflict with the law and to those who are most marginalized by infectious diseases. She is currently working for the Elizabeth Fry Saskatchewan and does individual counselling to marginalized women and also has the role of cultural coordinator. She sits on the Metis Addiction Saskatchewan board as an active member. She is also called upon to share her knowledge regarding Aboriginal culture and traditions within the community. This includes presentations in schools, colleges and at the universities.

As a kokum (grandmother), and chapan (great-grandmother), Patti is passionate about the need for Indigenous communities to heal for our future generations. Patti is also a member of the Prairie Regional Advocacy team and our board. She is contracted with us through the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan.

Breaking the Cycle Project
  • Darlene MacEachern, Regional Coordinator

  • Michelle Gushue, Expert Consultant ​

  • Wendy Bariteau, Expert Consultant

  • Yoriko Susanj, Regional Coordinator

  • Renee Acoby, Expert Consultant

National Research Project on Housing & the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Safiyah Rochelle, Research Coordinator

  • Kassandra Churcher, Project Coordinator

Our Board

Dawn Ferris, President

Dawn has been involved with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia since 2012 and has been on the Board of CAEFS since that time as well. She became the President of CAEFS in June of 2019. Dawn is a strong activist, feminist, and socialist. Dawn was very active in her union while she worked at Dalhousie University for 20 years. This experience honed her leadership skills as she found her passion for advocating for others, especially women. Dawn is now the Executive Director at the Cumberland County Transition House Association, which includes Autumn House (the women's transition house), New Directions (the men's intervention program), and a second stage home for women and children. She has been in this role since December 2017. Dawn is also actively involved in community organizing and is invested in equity and diversity. Dawn is married to Kevin and they have three grown daughters who all out on their own ‘adulting’.

Toni Sinclair, Vice President, Staff Representation & Regional Advocate (Prairie Region)

Toni Sinclair is a Metis woman born in Cold Lake, AB. She holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Alberta and Executive Leadership Certification from Stanford University. Her greatest education, though, comes from the women and girls who she has had the privilege and honor to walk alongside throughout her career. Toni is the current Executive Director of the Elizabeth Fry Society in Edmonton. She is also the Vice President of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, and is a part of a regional advocacy team that monitors conditions of confinement and human rights in federal prisons for women. She is proud to work alongside a passionate team devoted to our mission of advancing the dignity and worth of all women, girls and non-binary folks who are criminalized or are at risk. In the rare moments where she has spare time, Toni enjoys playing sports, exploring nature, travelling, and posting too many pictures of her cats on Instagram.

Cathy Harrison, Treasurer & Board Representative (Pacific Region)

Cathy joined the Board of Directors for the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society (Kelowna, BC) since 2013. In 2015, she joined the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies  as a member of the Pacific Region team. In 2019, she agreed to become the Treasurer for the Society. Cathy is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) Designation and Certified Management Accountant (2011). She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Co-conferred by University of British Columbia and Okanagan College (2006)

  • Patti Tait, Indigenous Women’s Representative

  • Axelle Francois, Board Representative (Quebec Region)

  • Diane Bergeron, Board Representative (Quebec Region)

  • Ruth Gangnon, Staff Representative & Regional Advocate (Quebec Region)

  • Aleksandra Zajko, Translator & Staff Representative (Quebec Region)

  • Denise Durette, Board Representative & Regional Advocate (Atlantic Region)

  • Jillian Barrington, Board Representative (Atlantic Region)

  • Judy Murphy, Staff Representative & Regional Advocate (Atlantic Region)

  • Cory Roslyn, Staff Representative (Ontario Region)

  • Erin Bellavance, Board Representative (Ontario Region)

  • Venus Sayed, Board Representative (Ontario Region)

  • Jennifer Murphy, Board Representative (Pacific Region)

  • Micki Materi, Staff Representative (Pacific Region)


Quick Links


Email: admin@caefs.ca

Phone: 1-800-637-4606

Registered Charity: 108074980RR0001

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