Closeup of a person taking notes in a notebook sitting across from someone else
Webinar event date: 
Mar 7, 2023 12:00 pm EST
Webinar Presenters: 
Rina Arseneault, MSW

Rina Arseneault served as associate director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre at UNB for 25 years. She retired at the end of December after devoting her life to advancing gender equality and pushing for legislative change to better support women affected by intimate partner violence. She has received numerous accolades and was recognized for her life’s work on Dec. 14 in Ottawa, where she received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case


Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard

Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard is a highly regarded social worker, educator, researcher, community activist and advocate of social change. She has worked in mental health at the provincial level, in rural community practice at the municipal level, and, since 1990, as a professor at the Dalhousie School of Social Work, where she also served as director for a decade. In 2016, she was appointed Special Advisor on Diversity and Inclusiveness at Dalhousie University and she is the first African Nova Scotian to hold a tenure track position at Dalhousie University and to be promoted to full professor. Dr. Thomas Bernard has worked with provincial organizations to bring diversity to the political processes in Nova Scotia and teach community members about Canada’s legislative process and citizen engagement. She is a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW) which helps address the needs of marginalized citizens, especially those of African descent. As a former member of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and as its past Chair, was instrumental in the development of advice to ministers regarding frameworks for gender violence prevention and health equity. At the national level, she has served as a member of the National Coalition of Advisory Councils on the Status of Women. She has served as an expert witness in human rights cases and has presented at many local, national and international forums. Dr. Thomas Bernard has received many honours for her work and community leadership, notably the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada


Senator Nancy Hartling

Nancy Hartling has played a prominent role in promoting social change and is one of New Brunswick’s most dedicated advocates on issues affecting women. With a career focused on families and social issues, she is well versed in matters of mental health, poverty, violence against women and economic development. As a divorced mother raising two young children, she realized the need to continue her education and learned quickly about the barriers that one faces while trying to earn a living and contribute to society. She completed two university degrees and founded the non-profit organization Support to Single Parents Inc. (SSPI) of which she was the Executive Director for thirty-four years. She has advocated locally, provincially and nationally on socio-economic issues facing single parents and their children, and has spearheaded innovative programs to address the challenges for low-income single mothers. She was also a founding member of St. James Court Inc., an affordable housing complex for single parents. She has contributed to programs for the elderly and has been researching healthy aging and population needs. In her work, Ms. Hartling built and maintained partnerships with all levels of government, community agencies, universities and educational institutions, businesses and media. Her involvement on women’s issues has been extensive, including co-chairing the provincial Minister’s Working Group on Violence against Women, serving on the Board of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, co-chairing for New Brunswick for the Women’s World March 2000, as well as lecturing at the University of New Brunswick. Ms. Hartling’s record of achievement in community service, in organizational leadership and in advocacy has been recognized with several awards, such as the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Community Spirit Award from the United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick, and the Order of New Brunswick.


This event will overview the impact of the pandemic on increasing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and how a national strategy is needed to support local service delivery in meeting the needs of children and families affected by IPV.

This event features Rina Arseneault, whose life has been devoted to advancing gender equality and pushing for legislative change to better support women affected by intimate partner violence. It also brings together the unique social work perspectives of Senator Nancy Hartling and Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, in their work as Parliamentarians, in support of legislation, specifically Senate Public Bill S-249 - An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the prevention of intimate partner violence.

Tune in to this panel to learn from three powerful women who each, in their remarkable careers, have fought and continue to fight, for equitable access to IPV service across Canada – rural, remote and urban – with emphasis on the disproportionate experience of communities marginalized by the equitable access to health, social and economic opportunities in Canada.