Submit any questions you have for the panelists to:

Questions may be submitted ahead of time and during the event. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to answer all questions during the event, but we will follow up unanswered questions at a later date.

We’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons from COVID-19.

The pandemic has taught us we each have a part to play in keeping each other safe. And that by taking simple actions, we can make a huge difference for our community.

Just as we’ve done for COVID-19, it’s time to change how we think about our public spaces to increase safety for women and girls. As our economy slowly reopens, there’s an opportunity to re-engage with each other in safe and respectful ways. And as we go about our lives in work, school, errands and travel, we can think about everyone’s role in increasing safety for women and girls in our public spaces.

The City of Edmonton and partners are dedicated to this work. In October 2018, the City welcomed more than 250 attendees from around the world for the fourth Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders’ Forum. Leaders, academics and experts met to discuss leading practices and innovative strategies to increase the safety of women and girls in public spaces.

Since then, a lot has happened to advance this work by expanding education, networks and partnerships, and we are excited to share these updates with you!

On Monday, May 25, from Noon to 1 p.m., come back to this page to join Councillor Esslinger in a ‘virtual armchair’ conversation about what’s being done to increase the safety of women and girls in public spaces in Edmonton. Meet some of our partners in this work, and find out how you can contribute to making our city safer for everyone.


Councillor Esslinger, City of Edmonton and event host

Bev was first elected to City Council in 2013 and is now serving her second term. Bev champions Women’s Initiative Edmonton and is also working to build a child-friendly city. She started the Gender Based Violence Initiative out of concern for the high numbers of families affected. She desires to see real change in the behaviours and statistics. She was instrumental in bringing the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders’ Forum to Edmonton.

Dr. Lise Gotell, University of Alberta

Dr. Lise Gotell is a professor with the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta and was recently named the new Landrex Distinguished Professor. Dr. Lise Gotell will be researching the justice gap experienced by survivors of sexual assault in Alberta as part of her new Landrex Distinguished Professorship. Her overarching research expertise is in the area of gender and law, and she has published widely on such topics as equality litigation, constitutional jurisprudence, obscenity law and sexual assault.

Rachelle Venne, CEO, Institute of the Advancement of Aboriginal Women

Ms. Rachelle Venne is the CEO of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW), a provincial organization serving First Nation, Metis and Inuit women. She has a wealth of experience in non-profit, corporate and government environments and has built a reputation on her ability to see many sides of an equation. Under her leadership, IAAW has built many collaborative programs to address the disproportionate number of Aboriginal women experiencing violence and incarceration. Currently, IAAW offers wellness, advocacy, financial literacy, healthy relationships and youth leadership programs in west Edmonton.

Mary Jane James, Executive Director of Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

Mary Jane is a mother of three and a graduate of the Faculty of Business at Mount Saint Vincent University and the Faculty of Extension Program at the University of Alberta. She has always had a strong commitment to the not-for-profit sector and a deep appreciation for improving the quality of life for the most marginalized and vulnerable living amongst us. She is a passionate advocate for survivors of sexual violence, recognizing the immeasurable impacts this crime has on survivors, their family and loved ones, and on communities. She has served on a number of local and provincial advisory committees and panels related to the issues of sexual violence and has delivered key-note addresses and presentations at conferences and workshops.

Carrie-Hotton MacDonald, Edmonton Transit Service Director, City of Edmonton

Carrie is the Director, Business Integration with Edmonton Transit Service, where she is leading a multi-year project to improve safety and security for transit users, incorporating Gender-Based Analysis (GBA+). She used transit exclusively for many years and is passionate about transit’s critical role in the community. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is an active member of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, serving as chair of their workforce committee.