One Year Into COVID-19 It’s not every day that you start a new job and then immediately have to close down the office indefinitely and send everyone home amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic. But that was my whirlwind experience when I joined YWCA Edmonton as our new CEO one year ago today. I hadn’t even met most of our staff yet before making that difficult decision after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated an historic stay-at-home order
JANICE RHEA REIMER
Jan was born in Edmonton on May 23, 1952. Her efforts to break barriers goes well beyond being elected Edmonton’s first female mayor at 37. During her time as mayor and since leaving office she has worked to build stronger communities and support those experiencing abuse in their relationships.
She received her Bachelors degree from the University of Alberta. After a short period working in welfare in Australia, and then community development in Edmonton, she served as Alderman”for 9 years. She was the Budget Committee Chair when Edmonton received an International Award for Budgetary Excellence.
Edmonton’s 1989 mayoral campaign was unusual, as Jan ran on a platform emphasizing environmental issues and social development and was elected with a low campaign budget, disclosing her biggest financial supporters – something that the other candidates didn’t do.
One of her biggest public health initiatives was a comprehensive waste management system, including curbside recycling, which led to the reduced use of the Edmonton landfill and removing snow dumps from the river valley. Edmonton’s Board of Health rejected a proposed landfill site given risks of water contamination. Jan attempted to coordinate a regional solution and eventually abandoned those in favour of making better use of existing landfills and expanding recycling and waste reduction initiatives.
During her two terms in office, Jan undertook a number of strategic initiatives, including: the Mayor’s Task Force on Safer Cities, a Youth Advisory Committee, a diversity initiative, the establishment of the City’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee and an economic development strategy for the City of Edmonton. She was instrumental in keeping the Oilers, Trappers and Eskimo professional sports teams in Edmonton. In spite of difficult financial times and significant provincial government cutbacks, Reimer was able to maintain the City’s Debt Management Strategy and held the line on taxes.
After leaving office she worked on the Senior FriendlyTM initiative with the Alberta Council on Aging to create programs and guidelines to meet the needs of the growing seniors’ population and served on the Canadian Standards Association Advisory Committee on the Design for Aging Standard.
Since 2001, Jan has worked as the Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, a non-profit organization representing women’s and seniors’ shelters across the province. Jan’s role helped the organization be an active voice on issues of family violence in Alberta through awareness and advocacy.
Jan is tireless in her efforts to end the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. Jan had a hand in the first World Conference of Women’s Shelter (Edmonton, 2008), the development of Women’s Shelters Canada as a national voice for women’s shelters and was a founding member of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters.
Recognized as Edmontonian of the Century (2004), a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (2006) for her contributions to women’s equality, Jan recently had an Edmonton school named after her.
Source: Bio supplied by Jan Reimer