Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC), says it’s always been her goal to retire on her 60th birthday.
And later this summer, she’ll do just that.
“The board had asked me if I was ever going to retire, to give a year’s notice. So last year, on my birthday, August 31, I gave my year’s notice,” Walker told CBC News.
The London Abused Women’s Centre announced Walker’s departure Thursday morning.
“The agency is in a really great place, in a period of growth, and I’d like to leave on a high,” said Walker, adding she’ll have been with the organization for nearly 25 years.
“If there is one thing that I’m probably most pleased about having accomplished on behalf of the agency, it would be working nationally to ensure that Canada’s prostitution legislation was passed,” she said. “The legislation that decriminalizes women in prostitution but holds sex purchasers, traffickers and brothel owners accountable for their behaviour.”
Contributing to community
It’ll be hard, however, to walk away from a project to build a safe house for trafficked women and girls.
“We actually did have a place in mind, and we were going to move forward on negotiating a lease for it, this was [in January] and then COVID hit,” she said. “But again, I’m leaving it in good hands. That’s not a Megan Walker project. That’s a project of the London Abused Women’s Centre.
Jennifer Dunn, who is currently LAWC’s business manager, will be taking over Walker’s post on Sept. 1. Until then she’ll work closely alongside Walker as associate executive director.
“I don’t think I’m actually going to be retired,” said Walker. “I thought originally ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to just lie around in my pyjamas all day for a few days and watch Netflix?’ but I realized that’s not who I am. I have to be busy all the time. I would like to continue to contribute back to the community for as long as I’m able. What that means and how that will look, I’m not sure.”
Before running LAWC, Walker was a city councillor, from 1994 to 2000. She voted against the majority of councillors who, at the time, voted to not issue a gay pride proclamation, something that earned the city a rebuke from the Human Rights Commission.
Her local campaign to ‘Shine the Light’ on woman abuse has gone international.