COPA was founded in 1995 by Lisa Weintraub and Kathryn Penwill. It was created in response to requests from Franco-Ontarian groups all around the province for training and information about assault prevention education programs for children and teens.
Lisa and Kathryn shared the leadership of the organization for many years. It was from their intense and fruitful collaboration that the impressive body of resources and programming that defines COPA National emerged. Theirs was a partnership of shared passion and vision, mutual respect, and tremendous closeness. Kathryn left the organization in 2017, but the two remained close friends until Lisa’s death.
In September 2021, under the leadership of Randa Meshki, COPA became COPA National. The organization is now working on a national scale.
COPA National’s mission is to prevent and interrupt violence, bullying, and child abuse on individual, organizational, and systemic levels by offering simple and effective tools and resources that promote positive social change. In our experience, it is tools, not rules that create sustainable change.
We have been developing and perfecting these tools and resources for 25 years in schools, communities, and organizations all over Ontario, and in our role as provincial coordinator of settlement workers in Francophone school communities in Ontario. We have offered programming to over 170,000 children so far.
Our approach is unique in that it focuses on prevention and on building capacity in people, families, organizations, and communities in order to create lasting change.
COPA National's repertoire includes programs to address bullying and violence, child abuse, diversity and inclusion, racism, gender equity, consent, LGBTQ2S+ issues, reconciliation awareness, and more. Our programs are all based on principles of social justice and on empowering marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Following the death of Lisa Weintraub, Kathryn paid her a vibrant tribute. Here is an excerpt:
Lisa Weintraub was a remarkable visionary, activist and passionate advocate for those made vulnerable to abuse by a lack of social power. Lisa personified many of the values espoused by COPA and she used all of her impressive talents and abilities to promote and establish the organization’s programs and services, always with a view to creating a kinder, more just and humane world for children and everyone.