Current Projects | Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre | UNB

Global Site Navigation (use tab and down arrow)

Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre

Current projects

The MMFC fosters and conducts collaborative, action-oriented research projects on family violence. Research project findings are used to inform changes to service delivery and policy, and are the basis of education and training programs.

Conducting and supporting research projects in collaboration with personnel from various academic disciplines, government departments, and community organizations brings together diverse perspectives on the complexity of family violence.


Scales of Justice

About the project

The family court system presents many challenges for survivors of family violence. Many of the parties are self-represented, in need of protection, and dealing with multiple legal matters at once, such as child custody or protection orders, criminal court proceedings, landlord and tenant tribunals or immigration hearings.

The school system adds a further layer that can complicate the family court experience for survivors, along with the many interventions of social services agencies that work to address mental health, substance abuse, and trauma-related issues.

These overlapping processes create delays and confusion, further exhausting the emotional and financial resources of families. Moreover, research has shown that the disconnect between these legal systems can be a dangerous one for family violence survivors, distancing them from the supports and protections they need and putting them at greater risk of future violence.

Supporting the Health of Survivors of Family Violence is a project aimed at dismantling this “separate silos” approach to family violence. Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the project creates five regional Communities of Practice (CoP) through the Alliance of Canadian Research Centres on Gender-based Violence.

Each CoP will bring together survivors, researchers, legal practitioners, health and social service providers and other key stakeholders in the family law and family violence sectors to foster cross-sector communication and collaboration, developing multi-disciplinary best practices and evidence-based policy to address pressing issues of health and safety for survivors of family violence in Canadian family court systems. Specifically, the CoP will work together to:

  • Enhance training opportunities for family violence and family law specialists to develop and implement trauma-informed practices.
  • Identify strategies for improved communication and awareness across sectors to identify problems and support family violence survivors as they engage with the family court system.

    Full details about the project and partners

Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre Project Team Members
University Partner: Cathy Holtmann
Co-Investigator: Karla O’Regan
Project Manager: LA Henry
MMFC Representative:Joni Leger

Community of Practice for Atlantic Canada

The Community of Practice is comprised of people working with representatives from the legal profession, service consumers, and those who work with women and children who have experienced domestic violence, primarily from the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Research briefs

Issue No. 7. - Trauma-Informed Approaches to Family Violence in Family Law 
EN | FR (September 2021) 

Issue No. 13. - Family Law Mediation in Family Violence Cases: Basics and Best Practices
EN | FR (March 2022)

Issue No. 17. - Addressing Poverty and Family Violence in Family Law Proceedings
EN | FR (September 2022)

Issue No. 20. - Responding to Family Violence in Family Court: Challenges and Recommendations
EN | FR (March 2023)

Issue No. 25 - Failure to Protect: Social and Institutional Factors that Prevent Access to Justice in Family Violence/Family Law Cases. EN | FR (June 2023)

View all others briefs from project partners

Webinars hosted through MMFC

Changing Professional Obligations for Family Law Lawyers Under the New Provisions of the Divorce Act with Shelley Hounsell-Gray and Dr. Ilana Dodie Luther. May 10, 2023 | View the reconding | EN | FR

The Journey Project: Providing Trauma-Informed Legal Support to Survivors with Emma Duke
Nov. 30, 2022 | View the recording

Fleeing Family Violence: Challenges for Survivors Living in Rural, Remote & First Nation Communities with Christa Matthews, Dr. Mayme Lefurgey, Dr. Cathy Holtmann and Dr. Angela Wisniewski
Sept. 14, 2022 | View the Recording

The nexus of poverty and domestic violence in family law with Madame Justice Boudreau-Dumas, Chantal Landry and Lindsay Manuel (Family division of the New Brunswick Legal Aid Commission)
March 16, 2022 | View the recording

Mediation and family violence in family law
Oct. 20, 2021 | View the recording

Healing trauma: gender, trauma, and paths of healing in family law disputes
March 31, 2021 | View the recording

View all webinars from the project partners

Family Violence Law Website


The Muslim Family Safety Project is a partnership between the Arabic Cultural Centre of Fredericton, the Religion and Violence Research Team of the MMFC and the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration. The aim of the project is to develop a culturally integrative approach to Muslim family safety by building bridges between Muslim and Arab families and family violence service providers.

The AIM Study is testing the effectiveness of a 13-week advocacy intervention program for women in midlife and older who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and learning from the experiences of those who implement and participate in the program.

The project team is partnering with community-based organizations that regularly work with this population with the intent of reaching up to 60 older women in the three Maritime provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. A subsequent 12-week virtual check-in will provide social support and further assistance.

Funding Agency: Public Health Agency of Canada

Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre Project Team Members

  • Project Lead and Co-Investigator: Dr. Lori Weeks, Dalhousie School of Nursing
  • University Partner and Co-Investigator: Dr. Cathy Holtmann, UNB Dept. of Sociology
  • Project Coordinator: Kathleen Allen
  • Research Assistants: Katie Hamill and Alisson Haché Chiasson
  • MMFC Representative: Danie Gagnon


Weeks, Lori. The AIM Study: Supporting Women in Midlife and Older who Experienced Intimate Partner Violence. May 16, 2024.

Weeks, Lori et. al. Intimate Partner Violence Interventions. June 6, 2024.

Press coverage

The Alliance Against Violence and Adversity (AVA) project is a health research training platform that is creating the capacity to transform community health and social services to promote health and wellness of girls and women at risk or affected by violence and adversity over the life cycle. AVA hopes to help reduce family violence (gendered) and improve Canada’s UNICEF rankings for girls’ health and wellness, with positive lifespan, intergenerational and population impacts.

AVA’s Objectives

  • Strengthen and build capacity to transform population (community) health and social services to promote the health and wellness of girls, women, and gender-diverse people, at risk/affected by violence and adversity over the life cycle.
  • Use a collaborative, innovative, cross-sectoral/disciplinary/jurisdictional training platform to train hundreds of Canadian service providers and academics in the social services/community health field working with this population.
  • Make intergenerational and population impacts, and promote positive lifespan health for girls, women, and gender-diverse people.

Full details about the project and partners

Funding Agency: Canadian Institute of Health Research
Subgranting Agency: The University of Calgary

Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre Project Team Members

  • Project Lead and Co-Investigators: Dr. Nicole LeTourneau, UCalgary Faculty of Nursing
  • University Partners and Co-Investigators: Dr. Matt Rogers, UNB Faculty of Education, Dr. Cathy Holtmann, UNB Dept. of Sociology
  • Communications Officer: Peter Titus
  • Community Agency Intern: Janchu Tenzin
  • MMFC Representative: Danie Gagnon

Training & Resources

The Awareness to Action (A2A) Project is creating an online family violence assessment guide to improve the capacity of practitioners in the field of family law to identify and respond to family violence.

The project's objective is to promote the use of standardized family violence screening tools in family law systems, and to develop the capacity of family law professionals to address the effects of abuse in family-specific parenting plans. The A2A Communities of Practice meetings support sustained knowledge mobilization and collaboration in the field of family law.

The A2A project is the successor to "Supporting the Health of Survivors of Family Violence in Family Law Proceedings” (FVFL).

Full details about the FVFL and A2A projects and partners

Funding Agency: Canadian Department of Justice
Subgranting Agency: The Western University of Ontario

Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre Project Team Members

  • Project Lead: Dr. Karla O'Regan, STU Dept of Criminology
  • University Partner: Cathy Holtmann
  • Project Coordinator: Dr. Mary Aspinall, STU Dept of Criminology
  • Research Assistants: Carly Ashe, Misha Maitreyi
  • MMFC Representative: Danie Gagnon

Community of Practice for Atlantic Canada

The Community of Practice is a group of key stakeholders in the family violence and family law sectors, including family law and criminal lawyers, survivors, social workers, police officers, academics, and service providers across many sectors, such as transitional housing, victim advocacy, addictions counselling, and support for newcomer families to Canada. Members are from all four Atlantic provinces.


Aspinall, Mary. Coercive Control and IPV: Canadian Police Perceptions and assessment of risk. June 5, 2024.


O'Regan, Karla & Thornton, Ashley. Determining the Best Interests of the Child in Relocation Cases: CLT v DTT, [2022] NBJ No 309. March 2024. A2A Legal Bulletin #21.

O'Regan, Karla & Thornton, Ashley. New Brunswick's Child & Youth Well-being Act. March 2024. A2A Legal Bulletin #22.