We lead with a unique approach
In partnership with leaders in the field of domestic violence and abuse counselling, FearIsNotLove embraces a “Response-Based approach” to support any person who has experienced neglect, violence and abuse. This approach was developed by Canadian family therapists and researchers Dr. Allan Wade, Dr. Linda Coates, Dr. Catherine Richardson, Dr. Shelly Dean, and Nick Todd.
A Group of visionary women open a small volunteer-run shelter for women and families in Calgary
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter becomes a registered charity
Services for children developed
Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter moves to a new facility
Outreach Counselling Program begins
Beginning of Men's Counselling Service
Start of youth prevention program: Healthy Relationships
First Turning Points Fundraising Gala
Shelter burns to the ground
New Shelter opens
24-Hour Family Violence Helpline piloted
Shelter increases bed spaces from 35 to 40
Start of Children’s Outreach Program
& Men’s Counselling Service begins partner support program
Court Support program initiated
& In-house wellness clinic accessible for clients
Response Based approach embraced by agency
Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter commemorates 40 years of service to the community
Programs accredited for the first time
Start of child, youth, and family therapy program
Launch of children's book "Stanley on the Shoulders of Giants"
FearIsNotLove branding launched
There was a time when I was terribly ashamed of my life. When my daughter was five, she lived in a very unhappy and scary home. Her dad always called me horrible names in front of her. I tried to shield her from the unrelenting violence in our home, a place where we should feel safe and secure.
Until one day she saw him shove me up against a wall. I’ll never forget her sad eyes peering up at us as she cried out. “Daddy, don’t hurt mommy!”
I was terrified to leave the only life I knew, but I was worried about my daughter. I couldn’t ignore the troubled look in her eyes that day, and that’s when I decided to leave.
We were welcomed and supported by the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. When we arrived at the Emergency Shelter facility, I broke down and wept after years of fighting back tears. But I was relieved. My daughter was finally safe.
She and I both took a long time to heal after I finally left him. I learned that children experience similar psychological effects whether they are abused directly or just witness it. Our counsellors helped us every step of the way, and did an amazing job working with my daughter. Thanks to their support, we’re making it on our own. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but we are now both happy and building a healthy future.
*Angela’s name, and some attributes of her personal story have been changed to protect her identity and to keep her safe.
I was running from a man I knew would never let me go. My adult children, beloved pets, home we built, network of lifelong friends and fulfilling and engaging professional career all left behind. I travelled in the middle of the night with few belongings. I had trouble seeing the road through my tears as I drove away. I was scared and alone but I knew what I had to do and that if I didn’t do it, I most likely wouldn’t survive.
I knew I needed help and was familiar with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter and the work that they do. Hoping I never would have to be on the receiving end of that support because of the stigma and fear that comes with it, but was always comforted on some level that it is there for women and children when they need it. I had no idea what was ahead of me when I placed that initial call to the helpline.
My words will not adequately describe the overwhelming feeling of gratitude I have for my experience with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. I am not exaggerating when I say that they saved my life.
Arriving in Calgary, I was struggling with isolation, more than I can recall ever before. I fled a dangerous relationship in my home town, and left everything I knew. The psychological effects were devastating and the man I left continued to manipulate and control from a distance which increased my anxiety and fear. I felt completely alone and contemplated taking my life.
The support and counselling I received changed my life. I barely recognize the woman I am now. The perspective and support I was given, set up a foundation where I could begin to heal and trust. I was able to take control of my life without living in constant fear and paralysis. I was committed to becoming well, and embraced the support from my counsellor. I discovered things about myself and life that made me stronger and more confident. Everything looks so different now.
I feel warmth and love and deep gratitude. I am excited for the possibilities and am hopeful. The agency not only saved my life, it healed my mind, body and spirit. The ripple effect of people helping people in ways such as this, is what makes humanity so beautiful and inspirational.
I am eternally grateful to the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter for the hand that raised me up.
*Maggie’s name, and some attributes of her personal story have been changed to protect her identity and to keep her safe.
It’s been a year since we talked and since you rescued my daughter. I’m certain that so many people go through your doors and it’s probably rare that you get to follow up, but with your support, she is now safe and healing, and I wanted to let you know just how much you have helped her.
I was feeling helpless when I contacted you last year. I was terrified for Sophie’s wellbeing. Living far away, in a different city at the time, I wasn’t able to be there for her. I will never forget how your staff did all they could to help her, in any way they could. Your team went above and beyond, and for this, I will be forever grateful.
When she left the Emergency Shelter, she was able to find safe housing, and take time to work and support herself. She has been doing exceptionally well while going to school at the same time. With the continued support from her counsellor, Sophie has been able to accomplish some major achievements for herself!
I could not be more proud. Not just of her, but of your dedicated staff and the Calgary community that helped her get there. Community wrap-around is so critical in helping those who are facing adversity to become successful. It really does take a community. And I could not be more thankful for your part in supporting Sophie. Thank you so much for everything you do.
*Sophie’s name, and some attributes of her personal story have been changed to protect her identity and to keep her safe.
Connect Domestic Violence and Abuse Helpline
Our Helpline counsellors answer the phone 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. They provide counselling, safety planning, and referrals.
Men's Resource Line
Our counsellors can answer your questions and support you in accessing the right services to help you with your unique challenges. 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter
Focusing on ending family violence and abuse in the lives of women, children, youth, and men.
Child, Youth and Family Therapy Program
Providing support and counselling to children, youth and their family members who have experienced family violence and abuse.
Providing navigation of the court system and support for those who have or are currently experiencing family violence and abuse.
Community Services Counselling Program
Serving those who want short-term, crisis-oriented support, as well as longer-term counselling, while living in the community and who are unable (or choose not) to enter the Emergency Shelter.
Healthy Relationships Program
Preventative programming focused on building healthier relationships using therapeutic groups and activity-based learning for youth 12 and older.
Men’s Counselling Service
Offering individual and group counselling services to adults interested in creating or enhancing safety in their close relationships.
Take a Stand Initiative
Educating and empowering community members to effectively support victims.
An online resource offering trusted, accessible support, information and resources for the complex mental and relational health challenges men face.
Meet our Board of Directors
Shelly Norris – President
“My involvement with this organization has illustrated for me how many people are impacted by domestic violence and abuse. It’s time to change the conversation to increase awareness and inspire social change.”
Shelly Norris has been a member of the board of directors since 2014, joining when the agency was known as the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.
Shelly obtained her designation in 1983 and has continued to upgrade her skills through various courses offered by the CPA Association of Alberta/Canada. In the past, Shelly was Head Office Controller for a major homebuilder, following which she was second in charge at National Trust in Calgary, responsible for reorganizing accounting and establishing controls. Shelly and her husband jointly own an investment holding company of which she is President. Shelly also maintains an income tax practice.
She has been involved in the not-for-profit sector for a number of years, primarily in the area of fundraising. She served as co-chair of a Major Gifts campaign for the Canadian Cancer Society (Alberta and NWT Territories Divisions) for a number of years. For years Shelly also helped organize the JDRF’S major fundraising event in Calgary. She is involved with a number of not- for-profit organizations. Shelly has served as co-chair of our major fundraising event, the Turning Points Gala, since 2012, and as chair of the agency’s fundraising committee from 2014-17. Shelly assumed her current role of Board President in June 2017, and spends considerable time fundraising on behalf of the agency. She was instrumental in leading the brand evolution of Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter into FearIsNotLove, a new movement for social change in the area of domestic violence and abuse.
Jason Enns – Vice President
Jason Enns is a wealth management advisor for RBC Private Banking. With more than 24 years of experience, he works with families to ensure a formal foundation of human capital and financial strength is in place. In addition to a Bachelor degree from University of Regina, Jason holds a designation in Family Enterprise Advisory, Certified Financial Planning, and Personal Financial Planning. With a commitment to community development, his years of service work include: coaching sports, service club membership, and support of youth education.
Jason’s personal belief is that children and women are at great risk if the family dynamics break down. Informally, Jason has been an ambassador to the agency since 2012. His belief is that the agency plays a strong community role in preventive programs in addition to the welcoming beds for women and their children.
John Wilmot – Secretary
“FearIsNotLove is so much more than a physical women’s shelter, and delivers a myriad of domestic violence and abuse-related services and programs. This new name emphasizes this evolution, and allows both the community at large and most importantly, potential victims of domestic violence and abuse and those who use abuse, a better understanding of the services we provide.”
John came to Calgary in 1980 after graduating with his law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax. He joined Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP at that time and has practiced at BDP his entire law career. He is semi-retired but maintains the role of Senior Counsel. He practices in the areas of corporate finance and financial services.
John and his wife Mary have three grown children and one grandchild. They are active in the community and are members of the Calgary Winter Club, Bearspaw Golf Club and the Desert Mountain Club (Scottsdale, Arizona). John has always been active in sports, particularly hockey and golf. When not playing games, John and Mary love to travel and have traveled extensively. In addition, John is a bit of a music geek and enjoys reading and gardening.
With more time on his hands, John has a desire to contribute back to the Calgary community and feels he has skills he can contribute to FearIsNotLove. He is delighted to have been elected to the board of directors where he is a member of the governance committee.
Imran Gulam – Treasurer
Imran immigrated to Calgary in 1981 from Kenya and grew up in Calgary. He obtained his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary and articled at PwC, where he obtained his Chartered Accountant designation. He later achieved a Masters in U.S. Taxation from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Imran has worked in various finance roles in Oil and Gas, the innovation arm of University of Calgary and Brookfield Residential since leaving PwC. He joined FYidoctors in 2014 as CFO and has helped grow the organization from 60 clinics to over 300. He is also a director at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing settlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants living in Southern Alberta.
Imran and his wife Rachel have two young children and spend their time in the variety of kids activities. They both love to travel and experience theatre. Imran is also an avid golfer and loves most sports.
Debbie Blakeman – Director
Debbie’s purpose and passion is to help create the conditions for organizations and people to thrive, grow and fulfill their greater potential. She is deeply honored to support the leadership and profound impact that FearIsNotLove (originally, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter) brings to the lives of families in our community through her role with the Board.
Debbie is an accomplished former C-level executive and certified executive coach who brings over 30 years of business, people, culture and leadership development experience having worked across Canada and internationally. She now owns Younitive, a small boutique consulting practice specializing in executive coaching, C-suite teaming and culture shaping and is a co-founder of Belongify. She has an ICD.D designation through the Rotman School of Management and Institute of Corporate Directors, a CPHR designation in Human Resources and is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation. Debbie has completed various business, HR and management programs through Michigan University Ross School of Business, University of Calgary and Royal Roads University. When Debbie isn’t working or volunteering she is semi-retired (sort of) and can be found traveling, biking, wine “tasting” with friends or backyard bird watching with her husband Barry.
Courtney Burton – Director
Courtney is a partner at Dentons Canada LLP where she practices as a corporate/commercial lawyer and is the co-lead of the Energy Department. Her primary focus is helping clients with their corporate needs and energy-related challenges. She regularly advises clients on matters of corporate governance and strategic decision making. Courtney currently sits on the board of Rocky Mountain Liquor Inc, a TSXV publicly traded entity, and is a Trustee on the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation, where she also acts as the corporate secretary.
Born and raised in and around the Calgary area, Courtney loves that she continues to call the city of Calgary home.
Courtney is honored to have the opportunity to contribute to FearIsNotLove through her work on the board of directors and on the governance committee.
Cathy Manten – Director
Having just joined us in Sept 2022, Cathy’s bio is in the works. Stay tuned to learn more about her.
Jason McGonigal – Director
Jason is Vice President of Business Banking in Calgary with the BMO Financial Group, a role he has held since 2017. Jason’s primary role at BMO is to support and develop his team to serve their customers and communities, grow their book of business while managing the overall risk profile. Jason holds a BComm from the University of Saskatchewan (2010), an MBA from Queen’s University (2016) and is a CPA, CMA. Jason’s first exposure to FearIsNotLove (originally the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter) was in 2013 as an attendee at a luncheon held at the Emergency Shelter and additionally worked on the Take a Stand Initiative as part of the Capstone for his MBA. Outside of work, you can find Jason with his family (Yun & Amelia), barbecuing / smoking meat, volunteering as a golf and hockey coach with Special Olympics and occasionally on the golf course.
Timothy D. Mitchell, K.C. – Director
Timothy D. Mitchell is a senior partner at McLennan Ross LLP, where he practices management-side labour law. He has represented numerous private and public sector employers in western Canada, in all aspects of labour and employment law and has been peer-rated and ranked by numerous legal publications as a leading lawyer in Alberta in the areas of labour and employment law and one of the top 500 lawyers in Canada. In his twenty-five plus years of specialized management-side practice, Tim has had the opportunity to represent clients before a wide variety of courts and administrative tribunals, including in applications for leave to the Supreme Court of Canada. Tim provides a regular column in the Canadian Employment Law Today journal and has co-authored a book on employment law. Tim has previously served on the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter Board of Directors.
Connie Muller – Director
“Imagine how free we would feel & how much we could accomplish without fear.” Susan L Taylor
Connie is very grateful for the rewarding career she had with the Royal Bank Financial Group. While at RBC, Connie was given the opportunity to hone her skills in many areas including: Human Resources, Financial Planning, Branch Management, Marketing, Communications and ultimately in Wealth Management.
After leaving RBC, Connie was drawn closer to an organization with which she’d had a long-standing volunteer relationship. As a full-time team member at United Way of Calgary and Area, she was able to utilize her sales and relationship management expertise while expanding her fund development skills in her roles as Campaign Manager and later, as Director of Major Giving.
As a woman who was widowed at an early age, with a 10-year-old son to raise, Connie remains profoundly grateful for the solid foundation laid down for her by two extraordinary women. One was her grandmother who possessed great wisdom, unwavering faith, and a wicked sense of humour and the other was her mother who was a fiercely independent, successful businesswoman.
As a way of honouring the impact these women had on her life, Connie made a personal commitment early on to walk alongside the young women that were placed in her life. Part of her personal mission statement is: To support women; raise them up so that ultimately they can see themselves not just surviving but thriving. This is what drew Connie to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and SheEO.
As a previous Director with Alberta Red Cross and a founding Director & past Board Chair of the Montgomery Business Revitalization Zone, Connie is honoured to be able to utilize her previous experiences & make a contribution to an organization as INGENIOUS as FearIsNotLove.
Ryan Schneider – Director
Ryan Schneider is a professional engineer with 20 years of experience in software development and consulting including executive, technology, operations and customer/outreach roles.
He is the former CEO of Computer Modelling Group. Ryan holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary.
Ryan has served as a volunteer on and off over the past several years. He and his wife support numerous causes but many have a common theme – family, kids or food (the food bank more recently). Ryan believes that FearIsNotLove’s mandate for both prevention as well as helping families through current struggles will benefit our communities, children and families (and their families and relationships and so on) for the long-term.
Kim Ruse - CEO – Leadership
A leader and innovator in programs, services, and organizational operations, Kim Ruse has built a career exemplified by excellence in scaling and growing non-profit organizations, developing strong teams, and transforming cultures. As the current CEO of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Kim more than doubled the size of the agency over eight years, building a healthy and effective team.
In each of her leadership roles within non-profit organizations over the past 20+ years, Kim has championed innovation projects that improve social conditions and systems. At the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Kim spearheaded multiple innovative violence prevention programs, such as the Innovative Systems Response Project, and co-authored Shelter 2.0, a discussion paper on enhancing women’s shelters’ impact on ending violence, the Shelterlink App and Men &.
Kim was honoured with the McKillop Award in 2011 for her commitment to the Calgary community. In 2018, she was presented with an Alberta Government Inspiration Award for her leadership and most recently in 2022, she was honoured as one of six Calgary Influential Women in Business.
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