Allison Fisher, Executive Director

“Social justice means the recognition of the fundamental right to be Indigenous – having a sense of culture, of history and the right to one’s own world view – a worldview that is respected”.

An active leader, community builder and social justice advocate, Allison Fisher has dedicated her career to creating a safe space where First Peoples can live and celebrate their cultures.

Allison creates such a space as the Executive Director of the award-winning Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, which serves more than 15,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis people annually through its culturally-based health programs and services.

Allison joined the Wabano Centre less than a year after it opened its doors in 1998 and has transformed the small, grassroots organization from a health clinic with a few ancillary services to one that has over 45 funders supporting a diverse set of programs and services covering the whole life cycle.

In order to accommodate the expansion of Wabano’s programs and services, Allison led the $18 million capital expansion culminating in the redesign of the Centre by renowned architect Douglas Cardinal in 2013. In Allison’s words, the renovated Centre is “the heart, identity and expression of Aboriginal people in Ottawa.”

The new building offers enhanced mental health and maternal wellness services, as well as social enterprise initiatives and a cultural gathering space for the neighbourhood and broader community. The Centre has grown to 90 full-time staff, and over 450 active volunteers.

In addition to her work with the Wabano Centre, Allison is a founding and continuing member of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition. Through their work, the city of Ottawa became a designated site of the federal Urban Aboriginal Strategy. This ensures Aboriginal people in urban areas get much-needed supports and services such as summer camps for youth and supports for mothers and their children.

Born and raised in the First Nation community of Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Allison learned at an early age the power of community. Allison is dedicated to bringing together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to build healthy and inclusive communities. One noteworthy initiative is the work she has done with the Ottawa Police Services which culminated in the development of a protocol for more culturally respectful policing. She also partnered with schools, community agencies and government to develop practical, culturally-appropriate approaches to better support urban Aboriginal children and families.

The Wabano Centre was awarded the Tommy Douglas Celebration of Medicare Award from the Association of Ontario Health Centres in 2008.

Awards & Recognition:

  • The Governor General of Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal (2015)
  • Order of Ontario (2014)
  • DreamKEEPERS Citation for Community Outstanding Leadership (2014)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013)
  • Order of Ottawa (2012)
  • St Joseph’s Women’s Center Quality of Life Award (2012)
  • Leading Women, Building Communities Award, Ontario Women’s Directorate (2010)
  • President’s Recognition Award, Quartier Vanier (2010)
  • Marion Dewar Defender of the Public Good Award (2008)
  • Debut Group of the Year – Women of Wabano Ninth Annual Native American Music Awards (2007)

For further information and media inquiries, please contact:

Catherine Henry
Communications Manager
299 Montreal Rd. Ottawa ON K1L 6B8
613-748.0657 ext 233
chenry@wabano.com