Members of the National Advisory Council on Poverty

The National Advisory Council on Poverty (Advisory Council) brings together persons with lived experience, leaders, experts, academics, and practitioners that work in the field of poverty reduction to advise the Government of Canada on its strategy and produce a report on the Government’s progress toward meeting poverty reduction targets every year.

Further information about the role of the Advisory Council is found in the Terms of reference.

Current members

Chairperson: Scott MacAfee (Fredericton, NB)

Scott is a student of life, seeking out the new, innovative and interesting and connecting them to each other and existing systems. He lives and works from a strength based approach, where all people have something to contribute.

He has spent the last 19 years with the Government of New Brunswick, working on poverty reduction through the department of Social Development and the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation.

Scott supported the creation and evolution of the Community Inclusion Networks and has helped with the development of over 500 community projects.

Scott has chaired OMISTA Credit Union, Falls Brook Centre, New Brunswick Food Security Action Network and The Fredericton Loyalists Rugby Club. He has also sat on the boards of the Atlantic Summer Institute, The Healthy Eating Physical Activity Coalition and Team Rural NB.

Scott is passionate about Asset Based Community Development, Storytelling, Literacy, Community Transportation and Social Enterprise.

Member with particular responsibilities for children’s issues: Sylvie Veilleux (Montreal, QC)

Sylvie Veilleux is driven by strong values of equity, justice and social inclusion. From the start of her career with Quebec’s first garderie populaire in St-Henri, as the Executive Director of the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Vaudreuil-Soulanges, she has accumulated more than 35 years of work in the community where children and young adults have been her primary concern.

She has a Bachelor of Arts from the Université de Montréal and has furthered her knowledge through continuing education in intervention, management and organization.

She contributed to the development and implementation of, and updates to, the Policy on Sustainable Social Development of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges RCM, as well as the policy’s various strategic action plans.

She feels very strongly about all aspects relating to reaching the full potential of young people, making services accessible to them and improving their quality of life. This has led to her participation in multiple intersectoral forums bringing together community, economic, institutional and municipal stakeholders. She has been involved in intersectoral tables and community development corporations, as well as various committees dealing with educational success, transportation, employment, intercultural relations and healthy lifestyle.

Member with lived experience: Rachelle Metatawabin (Ottawa, ON)

Rachelle is a social justice advocate, who takes a personal interest in supporting children and youth involved in the social welfare system. Rachelle is passionate about ensuring that communities support individuals to address systemic barriers such as poverty. Rachelle has experience in program support, research and policy work on issues concerning vulnerable youth, poverty, the welfare system and food sustainability.

Rachelle is Cree from Fort Albany First Nation Ontario, but moved to Ottawa when she was 11. As an intergenerational survivor, she was involved with Children’s Aid from birth, becoming a permanent Crown ward of the Ontario government at 15. Rachelle has experienced the negative impacts of homelessness, and as a result can identify many of the gaps in current social policy. Rachelle is currently a member of the Youth Reconciliation Initiative with Canadian Roots Exchange and works as a grant writer, while adventuring with her daughter during their free time.

Member with lived experience: Shane Pelletier (Saskatoon, SK)

Shane is a program coordinator for Reaching Home, Canada’s Homelessness Strategy with the Provincial Métis Housing Corporation, where he works to support communities in their efforts to end homelessness. Whether it be prevention, or homelessness response and crisis management, Shane is driven by first-hand experience with the kind of grinding poverty that erodes opportunity and prevents access to services and facilities in Canada. He believes that the crippling impacts of poverty can be undone through timely interventions and investments in our nation’s most vulnerable and through intergenerational healing.

Currently, he volunteers his time as Co-Chair of the National Alliance to End Rural and Remote Homelessness, as an Expert Member of the Social Planning Collective, and as a mentor in the Young Professionals Mentorship Program with Canadian Housing & Renewal Association.

General member: Alex Abramovich (Toronto, ON)

Dr. Alex Abramovich is an Independent Scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and an Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. 

His program of research focuses on transgender health and LGBTQ2S youth homelessness. Dr. Abramovich has been addressing the issue of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness for over 10 years and is an award winning, internationally recognized leader in the area and one of only a few Canadian researchers studying this issue.

He has worked closely with all levels of government to develop policies and strategies that address the needs of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness and is committed to research that successfully and ethically engages marginalized populations.

Dr. Abramovich is the 2019 recipient of the CIHR-Institute of Population and Public Health Trailblazer Award in the early career category.

General member: Anne Andermann (Montreal, QC)

Dr. Anne Andermann is a family doctor, public health physician, and Associate Professor at McGill University where she leads the Social Accountability, Population Health and Health Advocacy theme in the undergraduate medicine curriculum, is Founding Director of an innovative community outreach clinic at a local food bank, and Director of Community-Oriented Primary Care at McGill.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Andermann previously worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva where she was a main contributing author of the World Health Report 2008 on increasing universal access to primary health care. She has also been a visiting lecturer at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil, the Berlin School of Public Health, the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and the Centre for Evidence Based Health Care at Oxford University.

Dr. Andermann is currently a member of the Canadian Homeless Health Research Network (HHRN), and the Social Accountability Working Group of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). She has published on how frontline health workers can better care for marginalized patients and advocate for structural change to promote equity : on McGill, Clear Collaboration.

General member: Shawn Bayes (New Westminster, BC)

Shawn Bayes is the CEO of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver (EFry), a charity supporting marginalized women and children, more than two-thirds of the women live on less than $5,000 a year. During her 35-year career with EFry, Shawn has led the creation of numerous initiatives and the successful pursuit of policy changes to help address deep poverty and homelessness, key risk factors tied to criminalization.

Led by her personal and professional experiences, Shawn is a passionate advocate and community representative for empowering change. She completed a Masters of Management (McGill) where she noted the strong effect of parental incarceration on children. This led to the creation of JustKids, Canada’s first dedicated initiative bringing together research and programming designed to improve the lives of children affected by incarcerated parents. Shawn is a recognized national expert in this area and is the recipient of numerous awards for her work.

General member: Arlene Hache (Yellowknife, NT)

Arlene Hache is a grassroots woman who has experienced homelessness and traumatic impacts of childhood violence. Arlene founded, and over two decades, led an urban-based family resource centre that provided support to marginalized women and their families, the majority of which were Indigenous. She is well-known across Canada’s Arctic as an advocate for social change and in recognition of her work was awarded the Order of Canada in 2009 and then the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. Of equal importance, Arlene was honoured with a Star Blanket ceremony guided by Wisdom Keepers and hosted by Keepers of the Circle, an Indigenous Hub in Northeastern Ontario.

Arlene is a published author and has participated on several research teams that gives voice to people with lived experience. She has also served on territorial, national and international boards that address gender equality, and systemic responses to mental illness and homelessness.

General member: Kwame McKenzie (Toronto, ON)

Dr. McKenzie is the CEO of Wellesley Institute, which works to improve health and health equity through research, policy and action on the social determinants of health.  He is an international expert on the social causes of mental illness, suicide and the development of effective, equitable health systems. 

Dr. McKenzie is a practicing psychiatrist, Director of Health Equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. 

As a policy advisor, clinician, educator and academic with over 200 papers and 5 books, Dr. McKenzie has worked across a broad spectrum to improve population health and health services for three decades. 

He has recently completed positions as a Commissioner of Human Rights for Ontario, an advisor to Ontario's Basic Income Pilot Project and as a member of the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council to the Minister of Health Ontario.  Dr McKenzie sits on the boards of United Way Greater Toronto, the Ontario Hospitals Association and Community Food Centers Canada. In addition to his academic, policy and clinical work, he has been a columnist for the Guardian, Times-online and Toronto Star and is a past BBC Radio presenter.

General member: Cheryl Whiskeyjack (Edmonton, AB)

As executive director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Cheryl Whiskeyjack’s job is to help urban aboriginal peoples live in two worlds at once: the City of Edmonton, with its particular laws and norms, and the aboriginal world of ceremonies and beliefs that has existed on this land for millennia. Cheryl has been with Bent Arrow just about since its inception a quarter-century ago. Now she oversees a suite of 18 different programs and services. The organization’s programming connects indigenous clients to the city around them, and helps them build skills and resilience that they can use in other parts of their lives.

Cheryl proudly serves on the Canadian Accreditation Council of Human services, Align Association of Community Services, End Poverty Edmonton, and the Stewardship Round Table. She acts as a mentor for the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations Executive Director Mentorship program, and represents Bent Arrow through several community partnerships. Cheryl is proud of the strong partnerships she has maintained across sectors and believes that ending poverty requires a diversity of voices to ensure better systems and communities for all of us.

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