The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is a specialized clinic for women experiencing violence.

Barbra Schlifer was an idealistic young lawyer whose life was cut short by violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario. In her memory, the Barbra Schlifer Clinic assists 4,000 women a year to build lives free from violence through counselling, legal representation and language interpretation.

The clinic offers

  • legal help in family, immigration and criminal law
  • compassionate support from diverse, skilled counsellors
  • interpretation and translation in more than 90 languages

We advocate for law reform and social changes that benefit women. We also provide professional development opportunities for service providers.

The Schlifer Clinic has received the Guthrie Award for “outstanding public service” and the Charity Intelligence Award as a “top pick” for donor investment in Canada for several years running.


We envision a world where all women

  • build lives free from violence
  • work together to create a more just world
  • live their own lives in respectful communities that provide meaning and belonging


The Barbra Schlifer Clinic offers legal representation, professional counselling and multilingual interpretation to women who have experienced violence. Our diverse, skilled and compassionate staff accompany women through personal and practical transformation, helping them to build lives free from violence.

We are a centre by, for and about women. We amplify women’s voices and cultivate their skills and resilience. Together with our donors and volunteers, we are active in changing the conditions that threaten women’s safety, dignity and equality.

We believe:

  1. Violence against women means any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering (including financial, structural, institutional or spiritual) to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
  2. Violence against women happens in all cultures. It is based on abuse of power, results in inequality, and affects all relationships through the generations.
  3. Women in every culture in the world have ways of working together to stop violence, and our work will honour and value these diverse strengths.
  4. Respectful relations and positive social change are possible when women and men work toward them. Each woman who comes to the Clinic and each woman who contributes to the Clinic is participating in that change.

Value Statements

We value:

  • Feminism and anti-oppression

    Joyfully, we root our work in the strengths and achievements of feminism and various women’s movements, including successes against colonialism, racism and other forms of oppression.

  • Compassion and self-awareness

    We are committed to staying rooted in compassion, viewing the world from multiple perspectives.

  • A reflective awareness of power

    We reflect on and learn from shifting power relations. We understand and acknowledge our own power and the change we invite in ourselves, the women we work with and the world we live in.

  • Community and connection

    We work in community and partnership with local, national and international movements to end violence against women, knowing that individual experience is embedded in systems and structures.

  • Autonomy and self-determination

    We respect and broaden women’s choices to determine their own lives according to their values, hopes and positive self-regard.

Our strategic priorities

  1. Increase our effectiveness in underserved communities through service evolution and innovation
  2. Broaden our sphere of influence
  3. Strengthen our organization

Barbra Schlifer was a promising young lawyer with a passion for social justice. In her name, the Clinic pursues its mission to increase access to justice, safety and equality for women each and every day.

On April 11, 1980, Barbra Teena Schlifer was sexually assaulted and murdered in the basement stairwell of her apartment building when she returned home after celebrating her Call to the Bar of Ontario.  Her senseless death sent shock waves through Toronto and across the country.

Out of this terrible event, a new dream was born. Barbra’s friends (who were to be her law partners), Frances Rappaport and Patricia Ashby, decided to establish a clinic in her honour that would commemorate her life and make the difference that Barbra had hoped she would make as a lawyer.

Four women who ultimately became instrumental in opening the doors of the Clinic were Elizabeth Stewart, Jennifer Sunley, Helen LaFountaine and Mary Bruce Dauphinee. As months grew into years of visioning and planning, these four women never relented, never wavered and never lost sight of their ultimate goal.

BSCC first office location.

On April 11, 1985, five years after Barbra’s death, then Mayor of Toronto, Arthur C. Eggleton proclaimed April 11th “Barbra Schlifer Day,” and in September 1985, the Clinic opened its doors at 188 Dupont Street in Toronto.

Initially, the Clinic provided a unique combination of free legal and counselling services for women who had experienced partner assault, child sexual abuse and sexual assault.  In 1987 an interpreter service for non-English speaking women who had experienced violence was introduced and since then the Clinic has added new programs and grown in both size and significance. In addition, the Clinic has become expert in a range of gender violence that includes but goes beyond domestic violence, partner assault, and child sexual abuse. Increasingly, we are active in such issues as forced marriage, honour-related violence, gender persecution from state perpetrators, as well as non-state actors in the international context.

Meldina Smith at first Annual Fundraiser Event.

Since February 1995, the Clinic’s major fundraising event has been “A Tribute to Friendship” (The Tribute).  In addition to raising funds, this annual special event helps the Clinic to enhance its public image, increase contact with its supporters, and provide public education.

To see more historical pictures, view our Historical  Photo Album on Facebook.

Board of Directors

The 2015 Board of Directors for the Barbra Schlifer Clinic consists of the following individuals:

  • Tamara Jordan, President
  • Afshan Ali, Vice President
  • Sharon Tse, Treasurer
  • Christine Bradshaw, Secretary

Members at Large

  • Gillian Dingle
  • Laura Dowsley
  • Meysa Maleki-Yazdi
  • Kathleen Murphy
  • Shaun O’Brien
  • Sonja Pavic
  • Caroline Rabbat
  • Elizabeth Seo
  • Karen Werger
  • Sarah Whitmore

The Schlifer Clinic’s Board of Directors positions are all currently filled. We will be accepting applications for the 2016 AGM. If you are interested, please complete our application and send it to the attention of the President of the Board of Directors at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic or email it to Amanda Dale. For more information contact Amanda Dale at 416-323-9149 ext. 244.

Last year, the Schlifer Clinic provided services to over 4,000 women a year, but we couldn’t do it alone. All of our services for women who experience violence continue to be free, thanks to the generous support of our funding partners.

  • ArtReach Toronto through Tides Canada Initiatives Society
  • Canadian Women’s Foundation
  • City of Toronto
  • The Law Foundation of Ontario
  • Ministry of the Attorney General
  • Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • The Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • Ontario Women’s Directorate
  • Pacifica Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation
  • Toronto Arts Council
  • Toronto Central LHIN
  • United Way Toronto
  • Women Gaining Ground

and many individuals

2013/14 Corporate/Labour/Employee Charitable Fund Supporters

  • Cavalluzzo Shilton McIntyre & Cornish LLP
  • CIBC
  • David Merkur Holdings Inc.
  • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario
  • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Toronto Occasional Teachers
  • Elementary Teachers of Toronto
  • Global Upholstery Co. Inc.
  • Hydro One Inc.
  • Leon’s Furniture Limited
  • McCarthy Tetrault LLP
  • Norton Rose Canada LLP
  • Ontario Power Generation Employees & Pensioners’ Charity Trust
  • S C Johnson & Son Ltd
  • Service Master of York A Division S.T. Equities Ltd.

2013/14 Foundation Supporters

  • Bealight Foundation
  • The Ben and Hilda Katz Charitable Foundation
  • The Bennett Family Foundation
  • CHUM City Christmas Wish
  • Gail O’Brien Charitable Foundation
  • The Geoffrey H. Wood Foundation
  • J.P. Bicknell Foundation
  • Laidlaw Foundation
  • Marion Ethel and Frederick John Kamm Charitable Foundation
  • Norah Faye Foundation
  • The Moe Levin Family Foundation
  • Norah Faye Foundation
  • Styles Family Foundation
  • Tippet Foundation

2015 Tribute Sponsors

In keeping with our agreement with the Toronto Central LHIN, our funding contract and declarations of compliance with the terms of that agreement are available for download.

Annual reports and audits

Coming soon!