Declarations of Truth: Creating An Alternative Justice Model for Survivors of Gender-Based Sexual Violence: The Transformative Accountability & Justice Pathway to Healing

Presented by: Nneka MacGregor, WomenatthecentrE and Shirley Broekstra, University of Toronto.
This Resource Spotlight was presented and recorded on October 8, 2020.

This Resource Spotlight focused on the findings from comprehensive research conducted by WomenatthecentrE, in collaboration with Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County.  

Their work included one-on-one interviews and focus group conversations with survivors of gender-based sexual violence (GBSV) in a rural and urban setting and monitoring sexual assault trials and auditing decisions on the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website. Their findings confirmed that the current criminal legal system is failing to adequately address GBSV and created an alternative model that speaks to the needs of survivors.  

Their new framework presented is adapted from the Transformative Justice Model developed primarily by Black and Trans women activists in the United States and seeks to wrap the parties with support and compassion, while holding space for the aggressor to take accountability and understand the harm they have caused. 

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Resource Spotlight Recording

Access the presentation slides here


Learning Objectives

Participants received: 

  • A snapshot of the criminal legal system's response to GBSV - some demographic information on key players and outcomes of trials 
  • An understanding of what justice means to survivors of GBSV 
  • An overview of the key components of our new Transformative Accountability & Justice framework 


nneka-img.pngNneka MacGregor is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Centre for Social Justice, better known as WomenatthecentrE, a unique non-profit organisation created by and for women and trans survivors of gender-based violence globally. She is also co-host of the engaging podcast – ‘What’s Your Safe Word?’  

Nneka is an advocate who works with governments, organizations and individuals to transform lives and build violence-free communities. In 2006, she was selected by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario as one of 13 experts tasked to review the range of services provided to women and children in the province, identify gaps and make recommendations. In June, 2016, she was appointed by the Canadian government to the Advisory Council on the Federal Strategy Against Gender-Based Violence. An international speaker and trainer, she has developed and facilitated training to various sectors, and was one of the 12 Canadian women delegates appointed to the UNCSW63. Nneka is also an Expert Advisory Panel Member of the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. 

Nneka sits on a number of Advisory Boards and Committees, including the Family Law Committee of the Board of Legal Aid Ontario. She recently became a member of the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, at the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General. Her research focus is on sexual violence and on the intersection of strangulation, Traumatic Brain Injury and Inter-Personal Violence, and was a recipient of the 2019 PINK Concussions Awards. She is also the recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction 2020 award for Social Justice. 

An entrepreneur with almost three decades of business experience, Nneka continues to support organisations develop their strategy, people, culture and community, with a focus on nurturing women’s leadership in business. 

Nneka recently retired from the Board of Directors of Moatfield Foundation of Bayview Glen School, where she served for 11 years, six of which as Chair and CEO of the Bayview Glen Foundation. She supports other non-profits and charitable organisations with governance training and developing effective Board culture. 

She is the proud mother of three amazing children, Aly, Alexander and Christiana, and human companion to Basil (The Wonder Dog) and Renfrew, The Cat. 

Shirley-Broekstra-2020.jpgShirley Broekstra is a Registered Nurse and has a Master Education, Psychology and Community Development from the University of Toronto.

As a Registered Nurse, Shirley contributed to the care of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in her position of Manager of the hospital-based Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre in Scarborough Ontario for over fourteen years.

Prior to this, she worked with offenders of sexual violence both in a medium secure prison, assessing their readiness for group participation, and in partnership with the forensic treatment community, monitoring the safe reintegration of offenders into the community. 

Shirley is dedicated to the use of scientific evidence to inform clinical practice and has participated in a number of research studies and other projects related to both victim/survivors of violence and offender management.

Shirley’s work was recognized by the Ontario Medical Association in 2011 with the Community Service Award. 

Following retirement, she is an active volunteer with WomenatthecentrE in the capacity of Research Associate, supporting the recent projects on the impact of non-fatal strangulation by an intimate partner and presently, examining an alternative justice model for survivors of sexual violence.