Alberta Perinatal Equity Project

This project will engage individuals, communities and organizations across Alberta in order to identify the needs, priorities, and goals of vulnerable perinatal persons and the barriers they face in accessing the supports they want. It is an inter-sectoral project that seeks to identify opportunities for systemic change—opportunities that remove the root barriers preventing access to the safety, security, and physical and mental health supports this population need and desire—rather than seeking to change these persons to adapt to discriminatory systems.

This project will impact and identify change opportunities in the following elements:

  • Policies and practices
  • Networks and collaborations
  • Authority, voice and decision-making

In order to identify these opportunities, we will gather the insight and experience of individuals, communities and organizations that can identify the barriers vulnerable perinatal persons face. In particular, we will center the lived experiences of vulnerable perinatal persons themselves, as well as the perspectives of the front-line, community-based workers that serve them. These groups typically find themselves in a position of relatively less power, authority, and voice in the larger system and thus have an essential and insightful view on opportunities for effective systemic change. The project also plans to convene and disaggregate the perspectives of particular equity-deserving groups, such as vulnerable Indigenous and/or rural perinatal persons and related service providers.

This approach builds on the lessons learned by the Perinatal Collective, a group of more than 40 agencies that work together serving vulnerable people in the perinatal period in the Calgary area. This project hopes to encourage and support similar network-building and collaboration in other regions of the province.

The project will also highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable perinatal persons, as well as the impact it is having on the individual and coordinated systems and services they need.

The project will culminate with a symposium, in which the insights of vulnerable perinatal persons and the frontline workers that serve them are presented to system and services leaders, and a dialogue is facilitated among all stakeholders to discuss opportunities for systemic change. A report summarizing the engagement process and symposium will be delivered at the end of the project.

Strategy Group

A small group of service providers will be gathered to help inform key components of the overall project development. This group will provide:

  • Insight into a project name
  • Clarity of project goals, objectives and operations
  • Insight into engagement strategy opportunities and challenges

This group will meet for a facilitated working session to provide guidance on these areas.

Regional Advising Committees

Following this, three regional advisory committees will be formed and will provide input and guidance to engagement strategy development. These three committees are:

  • North (North of Red Deer, but not including Edmonton)
  • Central and South (Red Deer and south, but not including Calgary)
  • Edmonton & Calgary

It is imperative that regional representation is balanced in the overall project framework because of the unique systems and service context that operate in each region. The intention is to surface these unique contexts, as well as integrate common themes between them in the project outcomes and recommendations.

We anticipate that the role of the regional advising committees will include, but are not limited to:

  • Provide insight into the regional contexts, systems and service realities and challenges in supporting the vulnerable perinatal population in that region.
  • Inform the project from their organizational, system and service perspectives.
  • Connect the project operations team to people in the regions when an opportunity arises and support emerging champions
  • Identify the equity-deserving groups within the region who must be connected to the project, either in an advising or informing capacity
  • Steer the regional engagement strategy formation

Project structure, oversight and operations

Project structure, oversight and operations

Equity seeks to honour the full diversity of lived experiences, as well as account for the relative power of different stakeholders, within any given system.

In order to do this, we will be designing a process that will identify and account for voices that may not otherwise be heard in the following categories:

  • Lived experiences of vulnerable perinatal women with specific approaches for BIPOC women
  • Front-line service workers, with specific approaches for rural service providers

Project timeline

Strategy Group Meeting #1

June 10

Meeting Objectives

  1. Introduction to project
  2. Clarify goals, objectives, operations
  3. Project name selection
  4. Insight into engagement strategy
Regional Advisory Committees Coordination and Engagement Strategy

June – August 2022


  • Identify Regional Advisory Committee participants
  • Determine research needs
  • Develop engagement strategy

Community and Service Provider Engagement

September 2022 – March 2023


  • Engagement strategy implementation
  • Input and update on community engagement from Regional Advisory Committees

Engagement Outcome Sense-making and Action planning

April – September 2023


  • Engagement outcome sense-making
  • Symposium planning and Advocacy plan development

Symposium and Next Steps

October 2021 – March 2024


  • Host Symposium
  • Develop action plan

Our Team

Rida Abboud, PhD, RSW

Rida has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and public sector, through a variety of roles in research, evaluation, community development, funding, stakeholder engagement and program management. With a BSW, MSW and PhD in Social Work, her consulting approach is person-centered, community-based and utilization-focused. Clients have said they appreciate Rida’s ability to understand the nuances of their organizations, her approach in facilitating groups large and small, and her willingness to ask hard questions. She is particularly interested in addressing challenges through a systems lens and gets excited to ‘map out’ pretty much anything. She identifies as a Lebanese-Canadian child of immigrant parents, settler in Treaty 7 territory, mother, and avid collector of amazing friends and cookbooks.

Kate Bowers

Kate has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is passionate about advocating for systems change to better support vulnerable persons. Since 2018 Kate has chaired the Perinatal Collective, a group of 40+ agencies in Calgary, AB working to assist and support perinatal individuals in Calgary and area to strengthen protective factors and reduce risks to themselves and their newborns through client centered, multi disciplinary, multi-agency coordinated and collaborative practice. The Perinatal Collective is a part of the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, where Kate was an Outreach Coordinator with the Prenatal Outreach Support Team (POST) from 2018-2022. In this project, Kate hopes to use her unique combined experience of frontline service provider and community leader to create systems change to better support vulnerable perinatal persons. She identifies as a British-Austrian Canadian, settler in Treaty 7 territory.

Thulasy Lettner

Thulasy has worked in the private, public, and non-profit sectors for over 15 years and brings strengths in strategic clarity, facilitation, and adaptive capacities to her community-based work. Currently, she works as an independent consultant on issues related to racial equity, organizational praxis, and systems change. Previously, Thulasy led an Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) process to strengthen CommunityWise Resource Centre’s capacity to address organizational racism and create greater racial equity and inclusion in Calgary’s nonprofit sector. This work was recognized with a Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Excellence in the Community category in 2018. She identifies as a Sri Lankan Tamil Canadian, a child of immigrants, and a brown woman, as well as an unschooling mother, weaver, and birder. She has a BSc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta.

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