Media releases

  • Brock, YWCA to present research on affordable housing for women in Niagara

    MEDIA RELEASE: 20 June 2022 – R0070

    Having to share close living space with strangers in unsafe neighbourhoods. Being told, as a racialized new tenant, that an apartment is taken when visiting in person to give a deposit. Balancing the choice between paying rent and putting food on the table.

    These are some of the experiences a variety of women in Niagara shared during recent consultations with Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) and the YWCA Niagara Region.

    New research informed by these discussions that seeks to improve safe and affordable housing locally will be presented Wednesday, June 22 during an event at Brock University’s main campus.

    “There continues to be an urgent need to increase awareness of the housing crisis in Niagara and the growing disparity in accessing affordable housing for women facing intersectional barriers based on their identities, such as Indigeneity, race, sexuality, ability and age,” says Assistant Professor of Political Science Joanne Heritz, the NCO’s lead researcher on the project.

    To address these and other challenges, the NCO and YWCA Niagara Region formed a research partnership last year to study affordable housing in the region.

    “We knew that women were experiencing homelessness different than their male counterparts, but how is not always understood,” says YWCA Niagara Region Executive Director Elisabeth Zimmermann. “This research project was a great opportunity to hear from women about what their experience is and also to understand how different intersectionalities made it more complex.”

    The federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada is funding the research.

    YWCA Niagara Region is actively involved in the affordable housing movement. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization sheltered 607 women, 55 men and 51 children, bringing another 120 women, 10 men and 78 children into transitional housing.

    However, many more needed affordable housing assistance but were reluctant to come forward out of a fear of catching COVID, according to the YWCA.

    As a result, countless women coped by staying in abusive relationships, living on the streets and sleeping on friends’ couches, among other measures, say the researchers.

    Zimmermann and Heritz will be among speakers discussing the team’s research at Brock University this week.

    What: Presentation and panel discussion of the NCO-YWCA Niagara Region research, “Improving Safe and Affordable Housing for Women and Gender-Diverse People During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
    When: Wednesday, June 22 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    Where: Pond Inlet, Brock University. Free parking will be provided.
    Who: Assistant Professor of Political Science Joanne Heritz; YWCA Niagara Region Executive Director Elisabeth Zimmermann.
    To register: Limited spaces remain for this free event. Registration is required through Eventbrite.

    Please note that COVID-19 protocols are in place and must be followed, including a mask and vaccine mandate. Updated protocols can be found on the University’s COVID-19 web page.

    For questions about Wednesday’s event, contact NCO Research Co-ordinator Carol Phillips at

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209 

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock University’s 111th Convocation comes to a close

    MEDIA RELEASE: 17 June 2022 – R0069

    The final of Brock University’s nine Spring Convocation ceremonies was held Friday, June 17, marking the close of the first in-person celebrations in more than two years.

    About 400 graduating students from the Faculties of Humanities and Mathematics and Science crossed the stage in Ian Beddis Gymnasium to receive their degrees. It brought to an end a week of Convocation ceremonies at Brock that included 3,500 students graduating across seven Faculties.

    “It’s been a wonderful week, watching graduates on campus celebrate with their families and loved ones,” said University Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Lynn Wells. “That is what Convocation is all about.”

    The rite of passage, she said, helped to usher each graduate into their next chapter as they begin their career or embark on a new educational journey.

    “It’s important to mark those transitions in our lives, those pivotal moments, by coming together as a community and celebrating,” Wells said. “We want to ensure our graduates feel properly acknowledged for all the hard work they’ve put into earning their degrees.

    “They have persevered through tough circumstances,” she said, “but they’ve also continued to help the University grow during this challenging time, as have our faculty, staff, alumni, donors and community members.”

    Two years into her role as Brock Chancellor, Hilary Pearson was elated by her first in-person Convocation at the University.

    “All week, the students have looked so happy to be here. Even through the masks, you can see the excitement in their eyes,” Pearson said. “It has been so wonderful to be a part of.”

    She hoped to provide inspiration to Brock’s Class of 2022 through the words of legendary poet Maya Angelou: “Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

    It was a fitting sentiment for Amirali Madani, who during Friday’s ceremony was awarded one of Brock’s highest academic honours.

    Madani was presented the Governor General’s Gold Medal, given to the graduate student with the highest academic average for 2021-22. The 24-year-old international student from Iran, who made it his goal to earn the award as soon as he enrolled at the University, completed his Master of Computer Science with a 97 per cent overall average.

    All nine of Brock University’s Spring Convocation ceremonies are available to view online at

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases