The Elizabeth Fry Society of Northwestern Ontario (EFSNWO) is a vibrant grassroots non-profit organization in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  EFSNWO’s mission is to challenge systemic oppression and stigma that forces the criminalization of Two-Spirit, women, and gender-diverse people.  EFSNWO is an abolitionist organization committed to addressing the over-incarceration of Two-Spirit and Indigenous women.

EFSNWO provides vital programs, services, and advocacy for those involved in the criminal justice system, at risk of criminalization, or experiencing homelessness.

Since 2021, EFSNWO has offered low-barrier harm reduction transitional housing for women+. This program provides stability, wrap-around support, and aids individuals in healing from past trauma to ultimately secure permanent housing.

EFSNWO offers several programs/services at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, including weekly support and advocacy visits, family liaison services, proactive release planning, a clothing bank, arts and crafts, meditation, and skill-based initiatives such as safe food handling, overdose prevention training, Speakers School, and emergency first aid.

The EFSNWO Circle of Care offers a welcoming community drop-in providing access to essentials like food, clothing, hygiene products, and harm reduction supplies. Services offered include housing assistance, referrals to mental health and addiction services, and meeting basic needs. EFSNWO engages with the community by hosting events, conducting weekly outreach, and a low-barrier food bag program.

EFSNWO engages in systemic advocacy by educating the community about social and economic factors leading to the criminalization of women+. As part of the Provincial Advocacy Program, they inspect and report on conditions and human rights issues faced by incarcerated women+ annually. 


To challenge systemic oppression and stigma that forces the criminalization of Two-Spirit individuals, women, and gender-diverse people.


We envision communities where all two-spirit, women and gender-diverse people thrive and are not criminalized.


  • We are an abolitionist organization that values and is guided by respect, integrity, equity, collaboration, accountability, and transparency.
  • We are committed to advocating for inclusivity, and social justice and fighting against systemic oppression and discrimination.
  • We value the lived experiences of all Two-Spirit individuals, women, and gender-diverse individuals; acknowledging they are experts in their own lives.
  • We value and are committed to decolonization and reconciliation practices, acknowledging the over-incarceration of Two-Spirit individuals and Indigenous women due to ongoing colonization.

Our History

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Northwestern Ontario was established as the first and only organization in Thunder Bay with an exclusive mandate to support women+ involved in the criminal justice system.

In 1998, the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Decade Council identified the need to provide services for criminalized women+ in Thunder Bay and the area. Within a year, a Decade Counsel steering committee was established to conduct a needs assessment. A 4th-year social work student from Lakehead University was tasked with investigating the needs and gaps through interviews and public meetings. The resulting report, “Women in Conflict with the Law (Thunder Bay and Area) Elizabeth Fry Society” was released in March 1999. The report concluded that there was a need to provide support to women+ serving sentences in and out of custody, those being discharged from jails and other institutions and those at risk of conflict with the law.

Over the next three years, the steering committee worked on establishing the governance and infrastructure of the organization and expanded its membership, leading to its incorporation as a not-for-profit corporation in 2003, and subsequently a charitable corporation.

Since its inception, EFSNWO has grown substantially from being primarily a volunteer-based organization to providing a range of services and programs for women+ in custody and in the community. 

Mission, Vision and Values

Photo credit: Robyn Saxberg, PMCP | EFSNWO

In recent years, the Board has acknowledged its responsibility to be more inclusive and has accordingly revised its mission, vision and values. EFSNWO respects diversity and welcomes women, Two Spirit, non-binary and gender-diverse people of all ages, across all cultures, abilities and needs and with diverse identities.

Who Was Elizabeth Fry?

Born into a family of Quakers in 1780 in England, Elizabeth Fry’s remarkable talents in the area of prison reform might never have been realized if it weren’t for the Quakers’ belief in the equality of women—250 years before women won the right to vote. Her insight, persistence, organizational ability, and her willingness to see a “divine light” in every person led to significant reforms in how women and children were treated in London’s Newgate Prison. As a strong advocate for humane treatment, Elizabeth Fry is widely regarded as an expert in prison reform.  

She once wisely remarked, “When you build a prison, always keep in mind that you and your children may one day occupy its cells.”

Elizabeth Fry passed away in 1845 at the age of 66 years. 

For more information about Elizabeth Fry, her memoir is available for sale at the Cambridge University Press.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds | Flickr (Leo Reynolds | Flickr)


The Elizabeth Fry Society of Northwestern Ontario is governed by a 8-member volunteer board and subsequent governing committees, which are the Finance Committee, Housing Committee, Advisory Committee, Governance Committee, HR Committee, and Fundraising Committee.

Board of Directors

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Jamie Sereda


Annika Gregg

Annika Gregg


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Jean Armstrong


Ashley Walter

Ashley Walter


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Erin Bellavance


Raija Warkentin

Raija Warkentin


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Tiffany Green


Stacey Hare Hodgins

Stacey Hare Hodgins


The EFry NWO Team

lindsay martin

Lindsay Martin

Operations Director & Systemic Advocate

mary kozorys

Mary Kozorys

Program Coordinator

Desiree Dumoulin

Desiree Dumoulin

Development & Communications Coordinator

jen baxter

Jen Baxter

Reintegration & Discharge Planning

Alicia Gordon

Court Support Navigator

bonnie aggamway

Bonnie Aggamway

System Navigator

kayla baxondale

Kayla Baxendale

System Navigator

robyn saxberg

Robyn Saxberg

Fundraising & Administrative Support

raeanne o'flaherty

Raeanne Oflaherty

Overnight Harm Reduction Support