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About Righting Relations - We are a growing, Women-Led, Pan-Canadian Network of adult educators coming together to strengthen our capacity to work critically, creatively and collectively with marginalized communities for radical social change.

History of Righting Relations

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As a result of an evaluation process completed in May 2011, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation (CDF) recognized that in order to meet its mandate of ‘radical social change’, a more pro-active approach to social justice and change, and a re-focusing of funding priorities was required. While self-esteem, confidence building and skills development would remain valid aspects of any adult education work, the attention would move to collective, community learning efforts, promoting active citizenship, democracy, personal and social transformation through the development of critical consciousness and skills to address and promote a more just, equitable and sustainable society in Canada.

In March 2014, the Adult Education Sub Committee of the CDF hosted a two-day Adult Education Institute bringing together adult educators from across Canada, representing the voluntary sector, social movements, university programs, First Nations, women, labour and arts and cultural organizations. The purpose of the Institute was to support and equip a network of adult educators prepared to apply their skills, strategies and institutional resources to a common agenda for social change. Together, they explored the key question of How can the CDF aid in the process of strengthening the capacity of adult education, and adult educators to work critically and creatively with diverse populations, to tackle the most difficult issues and be more action, policy, justice and change-oriented? What emerged was Righting Relations: Adult Education for Social Change, a Women-Led, Pan-Canadian Network, in partnership with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. The purpose of Righting Relations is to strengthen the capacity of adult educators and adult education to bring about radical social change through political and economic literacy for a just society in Canada.

This program lends priority to the process of regional hub/network development with adult educators who work with and are from Indigenous, Immigrant, Refugee and Low-Income communities.


  1. To build adult education leadership capacity by creating regional and/or pan Canadian networks of adult educators and community activist hubs committed to social change;
  2. To provide resources/support to adult educators/community organizers actively engaged in advancing political and economic literacy work and in organizing efforts within the selected constituencies;
  3. To foster, advance and encourage a mutual dialogue of critical learning, support and collaboration between the targeted constituencies;
  4. To contribute to the social and economic advancement of the communities involved and to document and share the gains.



Over a five-year timeframe, hubs of activity will be phased in, focusing on each of the identified constituencies. Currently we are engaged in hub development in three regions: the Western Region, with a focus on Low-Income; the Central Region, focusing on Immigrant and Refugee communities, and the Eastern Region, with a focus on Indigenous communities. Whilst there are regional priorities to hub development, there is a deep recognition of the intersectional reality of our constituencies, and hubs are currently reflecting that multi-faceted, and intersectional reality.


  • A network of people (including adult educators and grassroots community organizers) that are organized and supported by hubs across the country. The hubs have created tools and spaces that support a common agenda across three constituencies and their respective social movements.
  • The building of a shared agenda mapping the learning within and among the three social actors that reflects the process of political and economic literacy.
  • Dialogue to enrich decolonizing practices in adult education, documented on the Righting Relations Website.
  • The shared agenda serves as the basis for action by the network that builds a broader critical consciousness and moves towards a just society in Canada.
  • Skilled women leaders and models of a women-led process that can be shared with allies in social justice education.

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Foundational Frameworks

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A dialogical and experiential process of facilitating collective reflection and action towards societal transformation, with a focus on the most marginalized sectors of society. Everyone is a teacher and a learner, and we begin with people’s lived experiences as a site for developing critical consciousness and awareness of power. Practicing an intersectional analysis, we question all oppressive power relations and recognize the interlocking and inter-connected nature of systems. We practice praxis: action – reflection – action as our learning process and recognize that we make the road by walking.


Recognizing the traditional teachings on Matriarchal Societies of the Wabanaki

A collective and heart-centered approach to leadership, based in dialogue, process and building deep kin-like support networks. Being radically inclusive, building trust, relationships and safe space are integral to how we work. Validating and building upon people’s knowledge in emotions, body, mind and spirit, we recognize multiple ways of knowing. We seek to embody and cultivate hope, creativity and wholeness into our reflection and analysis. We recognize the importance of self-care, healing and community support in sustaining popular educators.

There shall be a preponderance of female-identified individuals present at all times, and at times the space may be open to female-identified people only.


We take inspiration from and recognize the reconciliation movement to right relations between Indigenous and Settler communities in Canada and draw from it, a way to build bridges across diverse peoples - Indigenous, Settler, Immigrant and Refugee. It is a practice of the Universal Laws of love, respect, compassion and empathy for all of Creation, recognizing our interconnectedness and the need to share power and space equitably. We recognize the importance of being authentic and being right with ourselves in the process of righting relations.

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National Steering Committee

Program oversight and direction is provided by The National Steering Committee, a group of experienced adult educators from across the regions engaged in hub development, working with and representing the constituencies of focus to Righting Relations (Indigenous, Immigrant, Refugee and Low-Income). The National Steering Committee leads and advises in the planning, design and facilitation of the program. The Catherine Donnelly Foundation has representation on the National Steering Committee and works collaboratively to give guidance and direction to the program.

National Steering Committee Members

Miigam’agan Photo MIIGAM’AGAN
Miigam’agan is a Mi’kmaq woman of the Fish Clan from Esgenoópetitj/Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Her life has been devoted to Wabanaki cultural revival and to promoting an understanding of Indigenous matriarchal systems. Miigam’agan is the first Elder-in-Residence at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick. Her role provides support for First Nation students and offers resources on traditional knowledge. She is also an important link between the University and First Nations communities.
Miigam’agan sits on the Executive Committee of the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network at the University of New Brunswick, which sets research priorities and ensures that the research they support meets the needs of urban Aboriginal peoples.

Ishbel Munro Photo ISHBEL MUNRO
Ishbel Munro has been an activist and community builder for over 40 years. Much of her work has been building bridges between peoples. She developed projects like On Common Ground which brought together the African Nova Scotian, Mi’Kmaq, Acadian and fishing communities to learn about each other’s culture and histories. She was coordinator of the First Nations Environmental Networking organizing a youth-elder gathering that brought youth across Canada to Cape Breton.
The thread that has run through-out her life is the creation of a more balanced, just world – a world where people can heal and grow to become the people they dream of being.

 Michele Penney Photo MICHELE PENNEY
Michele Penney is a 60's scooper from the Saulteaux Nation, Yellow Quill reserve. She is employed as a Community Developer for Somerset Community Health Center and has been a Traditional Hand Drummer and Singer for 20 years.
Michele believes that we can do better as human beings by listening to each other and sharing ideas which can be put into action when true understanding takes place.
Her favorite saying is “When you dream of a Sundance the night before, and the next day you make it so...You've just gone from Kindergarten to University with no education in between.”

Adriana F. Salazar Photo ADRIANA F. SALAZAR
Adriana F. Salazar is the Food Security Project Manager at Working Women Community Centre in Toronto. She has been working in social justice, popular education and human rights for over 30 years, first in Colombia and now in Canada. Her work includes over 12 years of direct engagement with immigrant communities in Toronto around topics of political, economic and social inclusion.
Adriana has led four Participatory Action Research projects investigating access to fair and meaningful employment for newcomers, exploring the civic and political participation of immigrant communities and mapping food insecurity realities on vulnerable urban groups. She has worked on creating empowering immigrant initiatives such as Newcomer Advocacy Committees, Newcomer Speakers Bureaus, New Voices Newsletter and recently, Resident Food Councils.
Adriana has a degree in Psychology from Javeriana University (Colombia). She is also a graduate of the International Project Management program at Humber College, and the Community Economic Development Program at Concordia University.

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Philippe Tousignant Photo PHILIPPE TOUSIGNANT
Philippe Tousignant is Director of Educonnexion, a program of Social Justice Connection, in citizenship education serving more than ten thousand young people and professionals in Canada and abroad. Lecturer at Université de Montréal for the Certificate in International Cooperation, he holds a Master's Degree in International Law from UQAM.
He developed North America’s first global citizenship education framework and other curricula for youth and adult education used in thousands of educational environments. He annually trains hundreds of practitioners in transformative educational practices and supports, through participatory approaches, organizations capacity building in educational, engagement or social impact practices. Processes of social transformation and impact assessment are central to his interests.

Renée Vaugeois Photo RENÉE VAUGEOIS
Ms. Renée Vaugeois originates from Wildwood Alberta and is a 5th generation Canadian of Ukrainian and French descent. She is currently the Executive Director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and current President of the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee; a coalition of law enforcement and organizations working to address hate in the province. Renée is the founder and current Treasurer of Ainembabazi Children’s Project, an organization committed to strengthening children’s rights in East Africa through building self reliant families and communities. Since 2015, Renée also serves as a Director for Women in International Security Canada, a professional network of women in the peace and security field.

National Program Facilitator

The National Program Facilitator works in collaboration with the National Steering Committee to support hub development and ensure connection and cohesion of the project within a national framework.

About the Catherine Donnelly Foundation

CDF Logo The Catherine Donnelly Foundation is a private charitable foundation based in Toronto that provides grants to charities addressing issues related to Adult Education, Housing, and Environment (Climate Change).

For more information, please visit: catherinedonnellyfoundation.org

RIGHTINGRELATIONS12 Montcrest Boulevard, Toronto, ON M4K 1J7 | 416-461-2996 | info@rightingrelations.org