Biographies of the members of the Advisory Committee on Homelessness

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Selected from hundreds of nominations from across the country, the Advisory Committee on Homelessness included 13 housing and homelessness experts, local and regional service providers, as well as individuals with a lived experience of homelessness. The Committee represented Canada’s regional, cultural and linguistic diversity.

Adam Vaughan (Chair)

Member of Parliament, Spadina-Fort York
Parliamentary Secretary (Housing and Urban Affairs) to Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Adam Vaughan was first elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina on June 30, 2014. Prior to that, he was elected twice to Toronto City Council. As an activist and a journalist, Mr. Vaughan has played a significant role in the social and economic growth of Toronto.

Mr. Vaughan brings a lifetime of experience to federal politics. On City Council, he played a major role in reforming Toronto’s public housing policy. He led successful campaigns to rebuild and revitalize existing public housing while initiating new policies to create family housing, supportive housing and new co-op housing programs. Together with residents, he spearheaded the revitalization of Toronto’s Alexandra Park community, a significant neighbourhood that will see new affordable housing, new commercial space, a re-built community and more downtown parkland.

Robert Byers

Regina, Saskatchewan
President and CEO, Namerind Housing Corporation
Chair, Indigenous Caucus, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association

Robert Byers is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Namerind Housing Corporation, a not-for-profit Indigenous housing provider in Regina, Saskatchewan. Under Robert’s leadership over the past twelve years, Namerind has grown from a traditional Indigenous housing provider to a national model in innovative affordable housing. Robert serves as member of the Mayor’s Housing Commission for the City of Regina, and has recently been appointed to the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s Board of Directors as Chair of the Indigenous Caucus.

Amanda DiFalco

Hamilton, Ontario
Manager, Homelessness Policy and Programs, City Of Hamilton

Amanda DiFalco is the Manager of Homelessness Policy and Programs at the City of Hamilton. Amanda passionately believes that homelessness is a solvable problem. She has led several initiatives which have contributed to reducing homelessness in Hamilton by 35% in 2015. As part of the Institute of Global Homelessness Fellowship, Amanda is recognized as a leader nationally and has contributed to ending chronic homelessness across the globe. Amanda is a strong supporter of Housing First and through her leadership, over 600 individuals and families have been permanently housed, while maintaining a housing retention rate of 90% in Hamilton. Amanda has joined forces with communities across Canada to pioneer the national 20,000 Homes Campaign.

Stephen Gaetz

Toronto, Ontario
Professor, Faculty of Education, York University and Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness/Homeless Hub

Stephen Gaetz is a Professor in the Faculty of Education and is the Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Homeless Hub. He is also President of Raising the Roof, a leading Canadian charity that focuses on long term solutions to homelessness, and a founding member of A Way Home Canada, a national coalition to prevent and end youth homelessness. Stephen is committed to a research agenda that foregrounds social justice and attempts to make research on homelessness relevant to policy and program development. His research on homelessness has focused on economic strategies, health, education and legal and justice issues, and more recently, he has focused his attention on policy and in particular the Canadian response to homelessness. He has published extensively on all aspects of homelessness, and is lead author on the State of Homelessness in Canada (2013, 2014, 2016), and “A Safe and Decent Place to Live – A Framework for Housing First for Youth”. He has also edited two volumes on homelessness in Canada, including: “Housing First in Canada – Supporting Communities to End Homelessness” (2013) and “Youth homelessness in Canada: Implications for policy and practice” (2013).

Pierre Gaudreau

Montreal, Quebec
Coordinator, Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérants de Montréal (RAPSIM)

Pierre Gaudreau has more than 35 years of experience in the promotion of social housing and the fight against poverty and homelessness. Since 2003, Pierre has been the Coordinator of the Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM), a network of 108 organizations that addresses homelessness and delivers services to homeless individuals and individuals at risk of homelessness in Montreal. He participated actively in the work leading up to the adaptation of the Politique nationale de lutte à l’itinérance by the gouvernement du Québec in 2014. As the representative for RAPSIM in the Comité directeur en itinérance de Montréal, he participates actively in the implementation of this policy. He won the Centraide of Greater Montreal’s Solidaires Leadership Award in 2016 for his outstanding work on homelessness issues in his community.

Arlene Haché

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Community Advocate and Program Developer Temiskaming Native Women's Support Group

Arlene Haché is a community advocate from the Northwest Territories with lived experience of homelessness. Arlene established, and for more than two decades led, a peer-oriented family resource centre with an attached shelter for women who were homeless. In 2009, Arlene was awarded the Order of Canada and in 2012 the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work with Indigenous communities. Arlene obtained a Masters in Leadership degree at Royal Rhodes University and currently works with the Temiskaming Native Women's Support Group designing and implementing their Indigenous community hubs.

Charlotte Hrenchuk

Whitehorse, Yukon
Executive Director, Yukon Status of Women Council

Charlotte Hrenchuk is the Executive Director of the Yukon Status of Women's Council (YSWC), an equality-seeking women’s organization advocating on behalf of homeless women since 2001. Charlotte has been a member of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition for 10 years and a co-chair for four years. She participated in the creation of "A Home for Everyone – a Housing Action Plan for Whitehorse" (2011). As a member of a pan-territorial working group, Charlotte researched and co-wrote the first study of women’s homelessness in the Yukon entitled "A Little Kindness Would Go a Long Way" (2007) as part of the first study of women’s homelessness north of 60. More recently, she coordinated and conducted the research for the Yukon in a pan-territorial research project on women, homelessness and mental health aimed at systems improvement and co-wrote "Repairing the Holes in the Net" (2015). Charlotte has experience working at a women's transition home for women fleeing violence and, in her work with YSWC, she collaborates with Indigenous women's organizations such as the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women's Circle and the Yukon Aboriginal Women's Council on women's equality issues and homelessness. She has been an active member of the Whitehorse/Yukon Planning Group on Homelessness since 2008 and was involved in organizing and implementing the Point-in-Time Count in Whitehorse in 2016.

Holly Jarrett

Wakefield, Quebec
Co-founder and Member, Lived Experience Advisory Council, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness

Kaummajuk Holly Jarrett is the co-founder and a current member of the Lived Experience Advisory Council, created in 2014 at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Vancouver. She is the founder and creator of a large social media campaign called #AmINext, through which she successfully promoted equality and inclusion issues affecting Indigenous Women in Canada in support of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Holly’s career in advocacy began when she spearheaded the first Inuit Head Start program in the south as a member of the Ontario Aboriginal Head Start Steering Committee in 1998. Holly attended a two year program in Adult and Youth Corrections, which led to employment as an addictions, women’s and youth/group home counsellor.

Holly has first-hand lived experience with homelessness having been in transitional homelessness more than a few times in her 43 years. She has spent time in homeless shelters as well as in abused women’s shelters three times in her adult life as a single Indigenous mother of 4 children. She was raised partially in northern Labrador where she experienced the hardships of housing related to Indigenous marginalization.

Susan McGee

Edmonton, Alberta
CEO, Homeward Trust Edmonton

Susan McGee has served as the CEO of Homeward Trust since 2007. Homeward Trust is the Community Entity responsible for administering the Homelessness Partnering Strategy funding in Edmonton. She currently serves as Chair of the 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness, a collaborative of lead organizations in Alberta implementing local plans to end homelessness. In addition to Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan: A Place to Call Home, Homeward Trust finalized a plan to End Youth Homelessness in 2015, launching two Youth Housing First Teams, a Youth Advisory Council and the Youth Systems Committee which is working collaboratively to improve access to services and remove barriers for homeless youth. A priority of the Plan is to ensure housing and services are available to LGBTQ youth.

Katherine McParland

Kamloops, British Columbia
Youth Homelessness Manager, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo / A Way Home Committee to End Youth Homelessness

Katherine McParland serves as the Youth Homelessness Manager at United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo in Kamloops, British Columbia. This role was created through the A Way Home Project, which provides housing and supports to homeless youth. Katherine founded and formerly chaired the A Way Home Committee to end youth homelessness; now as its manager, she is responsible for implementing the Committee’s plan. Katherine’s passion and expertise build on her First Voice (lived) experience. As a youth, after spending much of her growing up in foster homes, Katherine aged out of government supports and spent years living in homelessness. Katherine later completed her Human Services diploma, Bachelors in Social Work, and graduated from the United Way Policy Public Institute. Katherine is a member of the Home Free Council and sits on the Housing and Supports Committee.

Jimena Michea

Quebec City, Quebec
Coordinator, Regroupement pour l’aide aux itinérants et itinérantes de Québec

Since 2013, Jimena has served as the Coordinator for the Regroupement pour l'aide aux itinérants et itinérantes de Québec. As Coordinator, Jimena organizes and represents community organizations working with homeless individuals and individuals at risk of homelessness in Québec City. She also has five years of experience working in the housing sector in Montreal. Jimena worked as Coordinator for the Leadership féminin program at the YMCA Québec, which supports women in situations of emergency or that find themselves living on the street, without resources. Jimena has a degree in Political Science from the University of Laval.

Karen O'Shannacery

Vancouver, British Columbia
Former Executive Director, Lookout Emergency Aid Society

Karen O’Shannacery has dedicated herself to addressing homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for 45 years. After experiencing episodic homelessness as a teenager, Karen helped to establish the Lookout Emergency Aid Society in 1971. In her early career, Karen was a frontline worker at Lookout Society, a minimal-barrier shelter for the homeless. As Executive Director of the Lookout Society, Karen recognized that providing emergency shelter was not enough to address homelessness and led Lookout to develop transitional and permanent housing and support services. Karen has been honoured with the Gastown Lions Club Meritorious Service Medal; Canada 125 Medal; Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s Graham Emslie Award for contributions to building a community in the Downtown Eastside; University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry Unsung Hero Award; the Order of British Columbia for advocating homes for the homeless; the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; and the City of Vancouver Civic Merit Award.

Bruce Pearce

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Community Development Worker, End Homelessness St. John’s

Since 2002, Bruce Pearce has been the community development worker for End Homelessness St. John’s, guiding local planning and investments under Canada's Homelessness Partnering Strategy. In 2009, his committee helped found the Newfoundland & Labrador Housing & Homelessness Network. Bruce is the former President of the Canadian Housing & Renewal Association, Canada’s national voice for affordable housing, and helped lead efforts to create a pan-Canadian network of communities working to end homelessness. Between 1988 and 1998, he was executive assistant and policy advisor to municipal and provincial elected officials in Toronto.

Tim Richter

Calgary, Alberta
President and CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness

Tim Richter is the President and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). The mission of the CAEH is to lead a national movement of individuals, organizations, and communities to end homelessness in Canada. Tim is a leading national voice on housing and homelessness policy, Housing First and ending homelessness. Prior to joining the CAEH, Tim was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, responsible for leading the implementation of Calgary's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness – the first plan of its kind in Canada. In the first four years of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan, more than 4,000 homeless men, women and children were housed; 3,582 units of affordable housing were funded; and, homelessness went down for the first time in 20 years of counting.