Dr. Wendy Cukier

Oyeyinka Oyelowo

For your commitment to disrupting gender-based violence

“First Republic Capital is proud to co-Sponsor the Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award and honoured to have Dr. Wendy Cukier and Oyeyinka Oyelowo as this year's recipients. We deeply admire Dr. Cukier's commitment to ending gender-based violence through stricter gun regulation and Ms. Oyelowo's determination through her legal and advocacy work to bring attention to workplace sexual assault and harassment."

Anthony Durkacz
Executive Vice President

"We’ve been advocating for survivors of gender-based violence and abuse for more than 25 years. So we know how important it is those in need to have someone in their corner, fighting for access to justice, safety and support. We’re honoured to co-Sponsor the Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award and pleased to congratulate and thank this year’s worthy recipients Dr. Wendy Cukier and Oyeyinka Oyelowo for their commitment to supporting women and gender-diverse people experiencing violence."

Elizabeth Grace
Leader of the Lerners Sexual Assault
and Abuse Team

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Meet the Winners

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is excited to announce that the 2023 Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award will honour Dr. Wendy Cukier and Oyeyinka Oyelowo. Through their exceptional work and advocacy, Dr. Cukier and Ms. Oyelowo demonstrate their commitment to supporting women and gender-diverse people experiencing violence.


Dr. Wendy Cukier

Founder and Academic Director of the
Ted Rogers School of Management's Diversity Institute

Dr. Cukier is recognized for her life-long career advocating stricter gun control legislation, noting the role of guns in gender-based violence, misogyny, and racism. In response to the December 6, 1989, massacre at École Polytechnique, Dr. Cukier founded the Coalition for Gun Control, an alliance of more than 200 organizations. A passion project for which she volunteers as its President, the research and policy work of the Coalition, led by Dr. Cukier, is pivotal to those in the gender-based sector seeking sound analysis of the role of guns and gun control.

Oyeyinka Oyelowo

In Ms. Oyelowo, the Clinic identified an emerging champion who will lead the next generation of advocates and survivors toward our collective goal of preventing and ending gender-based violence. Ms. Oyelowo is an ardent human rights advocate, developing expertise in women’s rights and policy development to address violence against women. Respected for her evolving work supporting survivors of workplace sexual assault, the Clinic is excited to recognize her work and devotion to advancing equity.

Founder of Yinka Law

Do you know a remarkable woman?

Congratulations once again to this year's award recipients Dr. Wendy Cukier & Oyeyinka Oyelowo
Congratulations once again to this year's award recipients Dr. Wendy Cukier & Oyeyinka Oyelowo

Kirsten is an intersectional feminist lawyer and advocate who brings decades of experience in the law, government and the non-profit sector to her legal practice and her work to end gender-based violence and harassment.  Kirsten works with individuals and organizations to advance women’s equality and human rights.  Kirsten is also committed to supporting accountability and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.


Kirsten began her career in the non-profit sector where she worked in Canada and globally on economic justice policy and human rights issues.  She obtained her law and graduate degrees and practiced litigation at a leading national firm.  Kirsten left her litigation practice to focus on legal and policy challenges in the public sector, serving as  Senior Advisor to the Premier of Ontario and Chief of Staff to the Attorney General of Canada.  Kirsten was then appointed to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal where mediated and adjudicated human rights complaints. 


As one of the policy architects of the 2015 Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan, Kirsten worked closely with advocates, government officials, elected leaders to launch an historic set of legislative changes, policy developments, an award-winning media campaign and a broad-reaching $41 million dollar investment in the GBV sector.  At both the provincial and federal levels, Kirsten played a leadership role in governmental response to the injustice of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.


More recently, Kirsten has represented individuals and organizations in the GBV sector before all levels of court in Ontario. In 2022, Kirsten was counsel to Ending Violence Against Women (EVA) Renfrew County at the Coroner’s Inquest in to the femicides of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam.  Kirsten has also been actively engaged in providing leadership and strategic advice to the campaign for implementation of the CKW Inquest recommendations.


In addition to her advocacy for change in legislative and policy landscape to eradicate gender-based violence, Kirsten also has an active legal practice representing clients with human rights, civil claims, employment matters and other workplace complaints at a leading union-side labour law firm.  Since representing Luke’s Place and the Barbra Schlifer Clinic as co-intervenors at the Ontario Court of Appeal in defence of the recognition of a new tort of family violence in Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia, Kirsten has advised clients involved in family law proceedings about how they might use the Ahluwalia decision to advance civil claims.


Kirsten is a partner in the litigation group at Goldblatt Partners LLP, and lives in Toronto with her partner, Matthew and their two children, Sam and Noah.


Carla Neto is currently the Executive Director of Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke a position she holds since October 2021. She holds a certificate for Public Sector Executive Leadership Program from Smith School of Business & the Veronica Lacey and Associates. Her work experience, combined with her Bachelor of Social Work from the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) intersectional feminist lens, anti-racist/anti-oppressive, trauma-informed and harm reduction principles, made her a good fit for this role. She is a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 2 boys. She is the recipient of the Ontario Government’s 2023 Black Heritage 365 Award. On her spare time, she supports capacity building in her Share Knowledge Consulting firm.

Carla’s work in the anti-violence against women sector spans over 30 years where she has held many positions that included frontline (women’s counselor, child and youth, legal worker and housing worker) and management.  Prior to coming to Women’s Habitat, Carla managed the YWCA Toronto Women’s Shelter and Transitional Housing and Support Program for over 10 years.

Carla believes that service delivery must support capacity, resiliency building and sustainability for the women and their dependents seeking services as well as be in alignment with strategies to end gender-based violence. Under Carla’s leadership, the Women’s Habitat Outreach Centre enhanced and delivered programs that focus on skill building and housing readiness as well as prevention-focused programing for boys and young men. 

Carla is a transformational leader with effective problem-solving abilities and a mentor with the ability to build strong and creative teams by fostering a culture of collaboration, diversity and inclusion.  Carla is a strategic and caring leader, who is well loved by her staff, and respected for her ability to make good decisions that balance organizational goals with the needs of those she serves and leads. She has also been instrumental in landing the organization’s ARAO and inclusion policies. Carla has demonstrated the ability to rebuild a strong organizational culture that values equity, and which will help Women’s Habitat attract and retain the talent it needs to take the organization to the next level. 

Over the years Carla has established strong sector network relationships, which has unequivocally raised the organization’s profile externally. Carla is the co-chair of the Toronto Region Anti-Violence Against Women’s Coordinating Committee (Anti-VAWCC), the Co-Chair of the Toronto’s Housing Secretariat’s Housing Pathways for Women and Gender Diverse People Group, and a member of a number of Women’s Sector networks.

Carla is an avid advocate for women’s rights and social equity. In 2023, under her leadership, Women’s Habitat partnered with Aura Freedom International in bringing an urgent call to action to have the City declare IPV an epidemic, which City Council passed unanimously. She continues to lead Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke in advocating for, and seeking solutions for safe and affordable housing for women and their dependents impacted by gender-based violence.