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Local Leaders - ACORN Canada

Local Leaders

ACORN is owned by its members

ACORN Leaders. They direct and guide a group by being out in front. But equally important is creating space for new leaders to emerge! Shared leadership is functional leadership. While good leaders may be totally committed to building rank-and-file participation and ownership, their primary role is to help the group grow, resolve conflict,  lead by example  and achieve its goals.  ACORN wins campaigns by having power which means having as many members and leaders as possible! 


ACORN Organizers. Support members to take the lead, continuously locating new blood to invigorate and democratize the organization.


A Leader can be an Organizer, but an Organizer cannot be a Leader


Power to the People. ACORN is governed by a national board of its members. The national board is made up of two member elected representatives from each province that has at least three chapters. Each chapter needs to have 10 full dues-paying members to elect a local board.

Get to know some of the leaders of local ACORN chapters. 

Ottawa – Gatineau ACORN

Marie Lourdes Garnier
Chair of the South Ottawa Chapter 

Marie is a strong, francophone ACORN leader from Haiti. She has been a fierce campaigner for child care issues. She has passionately led many of ACORN’s campaigns since 2012, on issues such as minimum wage increases and community benefits agreements.





Last Mazambani 
Co-Chair of the South Ottawa ACORN Chapter
Having joined ACORN in January 2020 after an organizer knocked on his apartment door in Herongate, Last is our newest elected leader on the rise! Last quickly took on leadership roles by chairing local meetings, making presentations to other groups and speaking with the press in the fight to win a NO Displacement Community Benefits Agreement in his neighbourhood!

Ginelise Edouard
Chair of the Ottawa West Nepean Chapter 

Ginelise has been an Ottawa ACORN member for over a decade. A mother of 11 children, Ginelise has made fighting for her Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhood a priority. She has also organized on other ACORN campaigns, including raising the rates for social assistance recipients.





Norma-Jean Quibell 
Co-Chair of the Ottawa West Nepean ACORN Chapter
Norma-Jean joined ACORN in early 2018 after attending the launch of our municipal elections platform – the Agenda for Change. Over the past couple years Norma-Jean has quickly become one of our most active members pushing for justice on issues like the digital divide, low social assistance and MORE! Norma-Jean is currently studying law at Algonquin College. 


Pascal Kakule
Co-Chair of the Central Ottawa Chapter

Pascal Kakule has been an extremely active member since joining the organization in December 2020. Pascal is a student and father of five living in Sandy Hill. He first became involved in developing Ottawa ACORN’s new campaign for municipal broadband. Since joining, Pascal has been vocal in fighting for #Internet4All by leading actions, presenting at townhalls and talking to the press! His aim is to influence more francophones to join ACORN.

Bader Abu Zahra
Chair of Ottawa-Vanier ACORN Chapter 
Bader is Palestinian and a retired engineer. He immigrated to Canada in the early 70s and since then has been involved in community struggles for social justice. After being encouraged by his daughter to join ACORN, Bader has become a committed member on several campaigns. These include affordable and livable housing, fair banking and he was an essential part of the push for a mobile COVID19 testing site in the east end of Ottawa.
Meagan Wiper
Co-Chair of Ottawa-Vanier ACORN Chapter 
Meagan Wiper joined ACORN after being frustrated with her landlord who neglected repairs and his tenants. Meagan quickly became an active member in the fight for healthy homes and has helped grow the organization in many ways – from doing data entry at the office, petitioning, phone outreach to other members to doing media interviews and co-facilitating meetings, Meagan has done it all!






Marcia Powell

Chair of Cooksville ACORN 


Marcia was elected Chair of Cooksville ACORN in 2017. Since then, Marcia has pushed the City of Mississauga to enact a low-income bus pass and start a pilot program for proactive inspections of apartment buildings.












Toronto ACORN


Alejandra Ruiz Vargas

Chair of the East York Chapter – National Leadership Representative


Alejandra is a housing worker originally from Colombia who has been involved with ACORN since 2015. She has led meetings and actions on issues such as. childcare, remittances, and employment insurance reform but her passion and advocacy on affordable housing, tenant rights and state of good repair issues is her passion. 










Donna Borden at an ACORN eventDonna Borden

Co-Chair of the East York Chapter


Donna works in healthcare and has been involved with ACORN ever since she began fighting back against predatory lenders like CitiFinancial in 2014. Donna is a fair banking warrior, having led many actions against payday and installment lenders. She has also delivered deputations to different levels of government about the different ways the bank system excludes low and moderate income people.









Marva BurnettMarva Burnett

Chair of the Scarborough Chapter – National Board Representative, President, ACORN International President.


Marva is the Chair of Scarborough ACORN and the National President of ACORN Canada. Marva is a child care worker, and a mother. She has been passionate leader  with ACORN since it first started organizing in Scarborough in 2005 and has led countless campaigns over the years.








Kemba Robinson

Chair of the York West Chapter


Kemba Robinson lives in the Jane Finch neighbourhood and has been a leader in her chapter since an organizer knocked on her door. Kemba believes that landlords and politicians do not do enough for tenants, and that Toronto needs real affordable housing with proper maintenance. These beliefs have motivated Kemba’s work and drives her to continue to organize with her neighbours.









Bob Murphy sitting with an ACORN member at  an information tableBob Murphy

Chair of the Weston Chapter


Bob has been the chair of Weston ACORN since 2019, and you’ll often see him at actions across the city as well as down at city hall meeting councillors or making deputations about the need for REAL affordable housing. Bob is an ODSP recipient and always makes sure to view and speak about ACORN’s campaigns through that lens.








Marcia Stone speaking into a microphoneMarcia Stone

Co-Chair of the Weston Chapter


Marcia joined ACORN in 2019 and has quickly become an active leader in her community and chapter. She believes that your postal code should not determine the quality of your housing and that’s why she continues to fight for healthy homes for all and on other important housing campaigns led by ACORN.










Peter D’Gama

Chair of the Etobicoke Chapter


Peter chairs the Etobicoke chapter of ACORN. He has knocked on countless doors in buildings, helping his neighbours fight back against greedy and negligent landlords. His advocacy has centred on the People Over Profit Campaign.









Ria Rinne

Co-Chair of the Etobicoke Chapter


Ria originally joined ACORN Ottawa, but after moving to Toronto she became a member of the Etobicoke chapter. Ria brings years of experience leading meetings and actions in her community. She has been an active voice in the media and has been an invaluable leader helping to organize effective local campaigns.





Monique Gordon
Secretary-Treasurer of the Etobicoke Chapter

Monique Gordon joined ACORN in the summer of 2021 when she reached out about the maintenance issues in her building. She soon became very active in the Etobicoke chapter and was elected Secretary-Treasurer. Monique has already led many meetings, actions, and is committed to fighting for better living conditions for tenants across the city!



Alejandro Gonzalez-Rendon 
Co-Chair of the Downtown Chapter

Alejandro Gonzalez-Rendon is a leader in the downtown chapter, living in North St. Jamestown. Alejandro believes in solidarity and social justice, and is passionate about fighting for more supports for mental health in his community, as well as affordable and healthy homes,! You can see him running actions, speaking to the media and representing ACORN all over the city!







Hamilton ACORN


Veronica Gonzalez
Mountain Hamilton Co-Chair

Veronica  joined ACORN in 2019 after experiencing health and safety issues in her own apartment and wanting to see improvements in her housing complex on the Mountain. Since getting involved with ACORN, Veronica has fought for tenant justice in her community and at City Hall.





Marnie Schurter
Mountain Hamilton Co-Chair 

Marnie joined ACORN during the founding organizing drive of the Mountain Chapter in 2018. Marnie recently retired as a Library Clerk with Hamilton Public Library. She is passionate about building a strong community for tenants living on Hamilton’s Mountain.  





Zechariah Hockridge
Mountain Hamilton Secretary / Treasurer 

Zechariah Hockridge joined ACORN during the COVID19 pandemic after reaching out with concerns about renoviction in Hamilton. Zechariah is passionate, caring, and willing to go above and beyond for the wellbeing of others. Having experienced episodic homelessness, Zechariah is passionate about preventing homelessness and tenant displacement. 







Dayna Sparkes

East Hamilton Chair

Dayna lives with her family in the Red Hill neighborhood. She joined ACORN in 2019 and right away got involved in helping organize in her East Hamilton townhouse complex to fight renoviction. Dayna has been a leader in Hamilton ACORN’s city wide and provincial housing campaigns, Internet for All and modernizing EI. 







Elizabeth Ellis

East Hamilton Co-Chair

Elizabeth joined ACORN in 2018 when she suspected her new landlord was trying to renovict her and her neighbors. Elizabeth has been a leader in Hamilton ACORN’s campaign against renoviction, helping run resist renoviction workshops, delegating at City Hall about her experience and supporting members in defending their homes. Elizabeth works in Hamilton as Personal Support Worker.  



Brigitte Huard

Downtown Hamilton Co-Chair

Brigitte is a community-oriented Educator and Advisor with a non-profit sector background who has been renting in Hamilton for over 20 years. She was first introduced to Acorn Hamilton in 2018 after being renovicted from her downtown Hamilton apartment, and became a member of the organization shortly after. Brigitte is passionate about equity, wants to be part of progressive change and work towards solutions in regards to housing affordability, community building and mutual aid.





Melanie Campbell 

Co-Chair New Westminster ACORN


Melanie has been an active BC ACORN member for a decade. Her campaign work has focused on stopping predatory lending in British Columbia. She has also worked on disability rights and ending the digital divide campaigns. In addition to being Co-Chair, Melanie is also the former Chair of New Westminster ACORN  










Tabitha Naismith

Chair – Newton ACORN and National Board Representative


Tabitha Naismith has been very active with ACORN since she signed up in 2013, as a champion of anti-poverty issues and both disability rights. Thanks to her tireless advocacy, BC ACORN’s Disability Rights Group won their first major victory on their End the Child Support Clawback Campaign. Tabitha currently lives with her two. children in the community of Newton in Surrey, British Columbia.









Murray Martin 

Acting Chair of Burnaby ACORN


Murray has been involved with stopping Demovictions in Burnaby, since getting involved with BC ACORN in 2013. His ongoing efforts have resulted in the development of Burnaby’s Tenant Assistance Policy which included many of ACORN’s policy proposals. To this day this policy remains the gold standard for municipal tenant policy in Canada. 










Bryn Smith

Acting Chair of Guildford-Surrey ACORN


Bryn is a newly elected Acting Chair of Guildford-Surrey ACORN. Leading campaigns in Guildford-Surrey since 2019, Bryn has been actively participating in various events, including the ACORN’s recent COVID-19 Campaigns.











Tara Black

Chair of North Surrey ACORN


Tara has been an active BC ACORN member for almost four years. Her campaign work is focusing on the Housing crisis in Surrey, British Columbia. She has launched a new campaign, Stand Up for Housing Campaign.






Akram Fakhfakh

Co-Chair of North Surrey ACORN and National Board Representative


Having joined ACORN in June 2020, Akram is one of the newest elected leaders on the rise. He quickly took on leadership roles by chairing local meetings, leading the tenant union group in his building, participating in various group actions, launched a new campaign, Stand Up for Housing Campaign.




















Montreal ACORN


Theodros Wolde

Chair of LaSalle ACORN


Unanimously elected chair of LaSalle in 2020, Theodros is a unifying and pragmatic leader. Married and the father of a child, he believes that it is possible to live in harmony, to fight and to obtain more just laws. As a volunteer, Theodros does not hesitate to give of his person, he led several campaigns of ACORN Quebec, including Internet for all, and healthy and affordable housing for all in Quebec, was an active member in the fight of ACORN against the infestation problems of the tenants of LaSalle.












Christian Kankenga

Secretary of LaSalle ACORN


Christian, a 28-year-old young man, working in the food industry, was a very early activist in student and citizen movements. As a member of ACORN, he fights for the city to provide more affordable and social housing. He is motivated to lift the voices of those who are not heard and to improve the living conditions of people in the community.




















Lina Deberge

Co-Chair of LaSalle ACORN


Co-chair of the LaSalle chapter, Lina, a mother with a big heart, finds time between her children and her secretarial studies to fight for others. Involved in the healthy and affordable housing campaign for all in Quebec, Lina quickly showed herself through her fighting skills. She believes in the power of coming together to solve the problems of our communities and is ready to hold up ACORN’s future campaigns.







Nova Scotia ACORN


Hannah Wood

Chair of the Halifax-Peninsula chapter


Originally hailing from New Brunswick, Hannah has been a fierce and effective disability advocate and is an urban chicken-keeping enthusiast. Hannah was elected chair of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter in 2020 and is passionate about tenants rights and fair and affordable housing.





Janice Pace

Co-Chair of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter

Janice Pace is from Sackville and has lived in Nova Scotia her whole life. Being low-income and disabled herself, Janice got involved with ACORN in 2016 to help fight for equal rights for other disabled and low-income people in her community. She’s pictured with her daughter and honorary co-co-chair, Angel.






Aidan Tompkins

Treasury-Secretary of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter

Aidan has been a member since March of 2020, he hails from Cape Breton but has lived in Halifax for over a decade. He became passionate about rent control and tried his hand at petition-making after he got a 29% rent increase in late 2019. Since joining forces with ACORN he has become treasurer of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter and is a strong advocate for rent control, affordable housing, and political reform.




Lina Hamid

Chair of the Halifax-Mainland Chapter

Lina is our passionate, hardworking Mainland Chapter Chair! As an immigrant and someone who works in the non-profit sector, Lina has seen first hand how issues with housing, low income-assistance rates and low minimum wage can truly affect the overall wellbeing of people. With her personal and professional experience, making big changes in all of those areas is a concern that is very close to her heart!









Fabian (Pat) Donovan

Co-Chair of the Halifax-Mainland Chapter

Born in Glace Bay Nova Scotia, Pat grew up in Halifax, where he moved after his father was laid off from the coal mines. His childhood in the 60s and 70s during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, as well as the music of the time, helped form the beliefs he holds today. Pat has been fighting for rent control and rights for marginalized people for the last 50 years.






Marjorie Pemberton

Secretary of the Halifax-Mainland Chapter

Marjorie has been a member of ACORN for 4 years, and was inspired to help lead her chapter by the amazing members she has met in her time here. From a young age she has believed in the power of the people, and has dedicated her senior years to fighting for our rights! She believes honesty, hard team work, and a lot of putting one foot in front of the other will bring us justice, and she’s ready to fight for it!