Cathleen Kneen

Cathleen Kneen is a feminist and social activist, and has helped to found many important community groups from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. In Toronto in the 1960s she was active in the Student Union for Peace Action and as a young mother helped organize natural childbirth classes and two parent-coop daycare centres. She also worked briefly as an announcer for CBC, and while farming in Nova Scotia, she contributed a weekly Farm Diary to the local noon program on CBC for several years. During that time she was the key organizer of the annual Sheep Fair; she was also a founding member of the Pictou County Women's Centre and Tearmann House for Battered Women. In Toronto, Cathleen spent five years as Executive Director of the Assaulted Women's Help Line in Toronto, and also worked as an editor and publisher.

When the Kneens moved to BC in 1995, Cathleen began to integrate her commitment to social justice with her farm background. She was instrumental in founding the Mission City Farmers’ Market and later the Sorrento Village Farmers’ Market and served on the Board of the Certified Organic Associations of BC in several different capacities; she was also the editor of BC Organic Grower, COABC’s quarterly magazine, from its inception. Her main focus became community food security and food policy and she worked with groups  across the province to create the BC Food Systems Network, founded in 1999, which she served as the Executive Director until moving to Ottawa at the end of 2006.

In October 2006 Cathleen was elected Chair of the newly-incorporated national organization, Food Secure Canada/Sécurité Alimentaire Canada.  She worked on the Management Team for the People's Food Policy Project from 2008 to the launch of Resetting the Table: A People's Food Policy for Canada. Cathleen has recently resigned her position as Chair of Just Food in Ottawa but continues as Chair of the new Ottawa Food Policy Council; she also continues to work closely with Brewster as the editor, co-writer, illustrator and designer of The Ram's Horn.

In January 2012 Cathleen was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Organic Council of Ontario at the annual Organic Conference held in Guelph, Ontario, and in March 2012 was named a Female Food Hero by Oxfam Canada. At its 2012 biennial National Assembly, Cathleen was honoured with the inaugural Cathleen Kneen Award for Leadership, to be awarded at each Assembly to someone who demonstrates vision, leadership, and a demonstrated commitment to grassroots activism in building a more just and ecological food system.