Celia Posyniak’s position as the executive director of the Kensington Clinic has led to impacts on both her personal and professional life but she has persevered due to her passion for women’s reproductive health, achieving milestones such as legislated protection for staff and patients.

Even before joining the Kensington Clinic, which is the only abortion clinic in Calgary and one of three in Alberta, Posyniak has always had a desire to focus on women’s health. Posyniak came to the clinic as a receptionist in 1991, pursuing her fervour for allowing safe abortion procedures for all women.

“I heard there was a clinic opening out in Calgary, I jumped at it and, you know, I would have washed the floors here just to get in so I did,” she says. “It’s worked out quite well — it’s my dream job.”

Posyniak has since become a leader for the clinic, its staff and what they stand for: A safe environment for all their patients.

“My desire [is] to provide a safe place for women to come that is friendly and non-judgmental — that’s always been front and centre of everything we do at the clinic here,” she says.

However, while maintaining the role of executive director, Posyniak has faced repercussions in her personal life, as well as high stress in her professional career. Posyniak has even faced protesters at her own home.

 MG 0700 copyCelia Posyniak is working hard to support her patients. Photo by Gabrielle Pyska.
“They were shouting at the neighbours,” she says, describing the pro-life protestors outside. “Both my husband and I were out of the house at the time with our kids. The neighbours came to our defence and caused a bit of a stir. By the time I got home, they were gone. My husband and my son were pretty upset.”

While working at the clinic, Posyniak has faced stressful situations to protect her staff as well as her patients, even having to deal with physically violent protestors.

“Once we were transferring a patient to the hospital and one of them came across the street with a camera. When I asked her to leave and tried to block her view, she hit me,” Posyniak says.

“We had one regular out there emailing us, threatening to come into the clinic and be a martyr.”

Despite these incidents, Posyniak has never let the challenges dull her passion for making change. She continues to push for the rights of women and for the safety and comfort of patients and staff.

“There [are] not many places of employment where people have to look over their shoulder constantly,” she says.

The Kensington Clinic’s head nurse Alisha Nord-Stewart has worked with Posyniak since 2009 and feels that if any word could describe Posyniak, it’s “strong.”
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“It’s amazing to work with someone who’s been here since the beginning essentially and done as much as she has done for women’s rights in all of Alberta and even Canada,” Nord-Stewart says.

Jennifer Berard, a nurse at The Kensington Clinic, says working at the clinic has been a positive experience.

“Everyone here is really flexible and works as a team which I really appreciate,” she says. “All the stuff that you want out of a job, they offer here.”

Posyniak’s advocacy efforts helped lead to NDP’s Bill 9. The legislation keeps protestors 50 metres away from the clinic and allows for any violators to be fined and possibly face jail time.

The bill has made a big difference for the clinic, however, Posyniak feels it is not quite enough.

If she could make one further change, she says, “I would push them further away.”

Editor: Sam Nar | snar@cjournal.ca

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