Leading excellence in
perinatal and women’s
health nursing in Canada



CAPWHN’s mission is to provide leadership and support for perinatal and women’s health nurses by promoting quality care, advocacy, education, and research that positively impact women in Canada. The mission encompasses the following key areas of focus:

Providing the voice of perinatal and women's health nursing regionally, provincially, and nationally in the areas of care, advocacy, education, and research.

Advocating for perinatal and women's health nursing interests.

Encouraging evidence-informed practice and patient safety.

Promoting perinatal and women’s health nursing and interprofessional research.

Developing, writing, reviewing, and contributing to national interprofessional standards and

Developing, writing, reviewing, and contributing to national interprofessional standards and

Responding to emerging perinatal and women’s health issues and trends.

Engaging in strategic alliances and collaborations.

Advocating for anti-racist care and policies with a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusivity.




CAPWHN recognizes that an elevated level of member involvement is pivotal in advancing our mission in the realm of perinatal and women’s health nursing. By prioritizing improved engagement, the organization aims to fortify its community, foster collaboration, and create a more impactful platform for achieving its overarching goals and objectives.


Deliberate efforts to concentrate on advocacy, collaboration, and education have been underscored as a key strategic priority for CAPWHN. Insights gathered from discussions, interviews, and organizational assessments have accentuated the significance of focused activities in these realms. CAPWHN believes that directing resources and initiatives toward targeted advocacy campaigns, collaborative endeavors, and educational programs will substantially bolster the organization’s impact within the perinatal and women’s health nursing domain. This strategic emphasis is viewed as integral to fulfilling CAPWHN’s mission, ensuring a dedicated approach to advancing the field through impactful and purposeful activities in advocacy, collaboration, and education.


Through consultations, interviews, and organizational evaluations, it has become evident that enhancing the organization’s presence across various levels is We recognize the significance of actively promoting CAPWHN’s visibility to strengthen its influence in the perinatal and women’s health nursing landscape. By prioritizing representation at regional, provincial, and national forums, the organization seeks to amplify its voice, drive advocacy efforts, and contribute substantively to discussions shaping policies and practices in the field.


CAPWHN recognizes that achieving this goal is essential for capturing the breadth of expertise and perspectives in perinatal and women’s health nursing. By actively working to expand and sustain membership diversity, the organization seeks to create a comprehensive network that not only mirrors the multifaceted nature of the field but also ensures a more inclusive and representative platform.


Through financial analyses, and strategic planning, it has become evident that ensuring the organization’s long-term fiscal health is imperative for its continued impact in the realm of perinatal and women’s health nursing. Staff and board members acknowledge that building fiscal sustainability is not only crucial for day-to-day operations but also for realizing the organization’s broader mission and goals. By implementing sound financial practices, diversifying revenue streams, and cultivating strategic partnerships, CAPWHN aims to fortify its financial foundation, enabling it to adapt to evolving needs, invest in innovative initiatives, and secure a resilient future. This strategic imperative aligns with CAPWHN’s overarching mission, emphasizing the importance of financial stewardship to sustain and enhance its contributions to the field.



The design of the CAPWHN logo is drawn from the classic pose of the birthing woman. Historical birth art illustrates the woman as the most important person, locating her in the center of the picture. This reflects CAPWHN’s focus of care upon the woman through her life span, from the fetal/newborn period, through the childbearing years to the aging woman. The logo emphasizes the multi-generational aspects of women’s health care by using three figures, but makes the central woman’s figure a darker blue colour so the eye will be drawn to her.


CAPWHN’s focus includes the promotion of fetal and newborn health. The paler periwinkle colour of the fetus/newborn reflects a belief that the health of the woman is the most important determinant of the health of the fetus/newborn. The figure on the left may also be conceived as the helper for the woman, at any stage in her life, and is shown as gender neutral, both in design and use of the paler periwinkle colour. The helper may be the male or female partner, another family member, the larger, extended family, the nurse or the community.



Meghan Cellamare RN, BScN, MScN, PhD


Kimani Daniel, RN, MSc(A), IBCLC, PNC(c)


Janet Walker, RN, BScN, MSN

DIRECTOR (Ontario)

Keri-Ann Berga RN, BScN, MScN, IBCLC, PNC(C), CNeoN(C)


Christine Finnbogason, RN, BSc, BN, MN,PNC(C)

DIRECTOR (Ontario)

Megan Fockler, RN, MPH

DIRECTOR (Ontario)

Kimberley Jackson, RN, PhD


Kate McCulloch, MSN, RN(C), CCHN(C)

DIRECTOR (Atlantic)

Courtney Nelson-Ward, BNRN PNC(C)

DIRECTOR (Atlantic)

Rachel Ollivier, RN, PhD


Catherine Ricci, RN, BScN, IBCLC (MScN candidate)


In 2019 a survey of CAPWHN membership helped determine the CAPWHN strategic direction. Part of this evolving strategic direction for CAPWHN was the creation of core committees that met the needs of our members. Additional committees may be created on an ad hoc basis by the CAPWHN Board.


All core committee membership will consist of a maximum of 10 members including:

  • chair/co-chair leadership – usually a CAPWHN Board member
  • representation from each of the 5 CAPWHN regions.
  • The CAPWHN Executive Director is an ex-officio member of the core committees.


Any CAPWHN member, in good standing, can apply to become a member of a core committee. They need to provide a written (email) indication of interest, their CAPWHN region, and their reason for asking to join the committee. All requests are reviewed by the chair/co-chair of the committee and the CAPWHN Board. Membership term is 2 years, renewable as determined by the Board.


Advocacy and Health Policy Committee

The Advocacy and Health Policy Committee (AHPC) serves to define and address local, provincial and national issues/policies significant to the health of women and newborns. The AHPC strives to create excellence and sustain an environment in which members can work effectively to improve health outcomes for women and newborns. Committee membership includes the chair and regional representatives.


Clinical Practice Committee

This committee will respond to the member’s request for education resources related to certification and other topics of interest. These may be e-modules, guideline development/review (either as CAPWHN documents or in collaboration with other professional groups), and other materials as required. There is a core group of committee members that will oversee the development of the material. Call for additional members will be based on expertise and interest in specific topics.


Social Media Working Group 

Recognizing that CAPWHN members and stakeholders are increasingly turning to social media for information, the working group will develop a social media strategy as a tool to drive effective communication to enhance and advance CAPWHN’s mission and goals.

Want to get involved or learn more about our core committees?


We’d love to hear from you!


In addition to being an active advocate for perinatal and women’s health care, and serving the needs of our members, CAPWHN celebrates those who excel. We offer two annual awards:

CAPWHN Excellence in Leadership Award icon

Excellence in Leadership Award


The Excellence in Leadership Award honours a CAPWHN member who, throughout their nursing career, has demonstrated excellence in leadership in the care of women, newborns and families. This leadership has influenced others towards the highest standards of care, be it through clinical practice, education, research, community service, and/or professional advocacy.

CAPWHN Emerging Leader Award icon (formerly Rising Star Award)

Emerging Leader Award


The Emerging Leader Award (formerly known as the Rising Star Award) honours a CAPWHN member who, despite having practiced nursing for a relatively short time, is recognized by their peers as exemplifying the highest standards of service to perinatal and women’s health nursing.


CAPWHN is focused on serving the needs of our membership and fostering superior perinatal and women’s health care. The following documents (PDF files) detail our structure and plan to effectively and efficiently fulfill our mandate.


CAPWHN 2024-2027 Strategic Plan View PDF


Professional nursing associations have a long and varied history. They unite and inform members who work in the same occupation and specialty areas. They provide unparalleled networking opportunities which facilitate connections with peers, mentors and leaders in the field. Many associations offer educational offerings which help inform members about innovative practices which lead to promoting and improving the profession. Active involvement in organizing annual meetings, workshops, and participation in committees promote leadership development and can be rewarding opportunities.

Medical team shaking hands

Working with Our US Colleagues

In the absence of a Canadian professional association which addressed the needs of women’s health, perinatal and neonatal issues, many nurses in Canada joined their American colleagues in the professional association specific to this area of interest. Prior to 1993, this meant joining NAACOG (Nurses' Association of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). NAACOG was created in 1969 and was administered under the auspices of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Side view of pregnant women in a white robe

Forming a Voice for Canadian Women's Health

While many professional issues were similar between Canadian and American colleagues, there were issues that were uniquely Canadian. COGNN (Canadian Obstetric, Gynaecologic and Neonatal Nurses) was formed as a Special Interest Group within NAACOG and it continued in that form until 1998. COGNN was created to permit networking among Canadian nurses and it provided educational opportunities through national face to face meetings.

Nurse in foreground with nurses attending to a patient in background

Greater Autonomy to Focus on Canadian Issues

In 1993, AWHONN became a separate and independent organization after an amicable restructuring of the association. The name change reflected the new structure and its autonomy. This internationally recognized organization’s mandate to establish and promote the highest standards of nursing practice, education and research in women’s health, obstetric and neonatal nursing remained unchanged.

Nurse with senior female patient

Improved Status within US Association

Canadian members continued to be involved in COGNN until the redefinition of the section and chapter structure within AWHONN in 1998. Canada became its own section and COGNN as a Special Interest Group ceased to exist. AWHONN Canada was conferred section status and therefore the leaders were able to benefit from the same opportunities as section leaders from the United States and the armed forces. A portion of membership dues were provided to each section providing funds to enable AWHONN Canada to thrive as a community of Canadian nurses passionate about the health of women and families.
Canadian nurses at the forefront of practice, research, education and management in this clinical domain continued their involvement in AWHONN and AWHONN Canada. Section and chapter involvement as well as annual conferences strengthened the bonds as nurses from across the country got to know each other and discussed issues that were pertinent to their context.

Two nurses in discussion

Growing Need for a Canadian Organization

As time went on, due to disparate health care systems and policies, there emerged several areas of practice that differed between Canadian and American colleagues. Discussions began about how AWHONN Canada could potentially receive “special status” in order to speak out on behalf of Canadian issues, including when these positions differed from AHWONN positions. Alas, while multiple strong Canadian leaders attempted to change the relationship, AWHONN executive members would not consider any changes. Many engaged and motivated Section leaders and members felt frustrated by their inability to endorse policies such as the Fetal Health Surveillance in Labour recommendations, the Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care: National Guidelines or to speak publicly about issues that mattered to nurses as well as patients and families.

Nurse with mother and newborn in hospital room

Fledgling Canadian Association is Formed

In 2008, a small group of nurses no longer willing to wait for a change in the relationship with AWHONN created the Canadian Association of Nurses for Women and Newborns (CANWN). The Section leaders of AWHONN Canada began to work with CANWN and continued to lobby AWHONN for a different relationship. In 2010, after much deliberation by both groups, a vote was held to amend the bylaws. AWHONN members from the U.S. and Canada voted that the “AWHONN Canada” section disaffiliate itself from the American organization to better meet the specific needs of Canadian nurses.
With the disaffiliation agreement finalized, the AWHONN Canada executive members approached the recently created Canadian Association of Nurses for Women and Newborns (CANWN) to discuss how the two organizations might join forces to form a new nursing organization for perinatal and women’s health nurses in Canada. Both organizations unanimously agreed to go ahead with this initiative.

CAPWHN is Born

In 2010, after tireless efforts by many nurses from across our vast country, a uniquely Canadian-based association, the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women’s Health Nurses finally saw the light of day. AWHONN became our sister organization and continues to promote the highest standards of care as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019. Canadian members continue to bond together as we advocate for our peers and share our challenges and triumphs. (Scroll up to read about our mission, values and goals.)

CAPWHN is grateful to the many organizations that support our efforts to
improve perinatal and women’s health care in Canada.