ABOUT US2021-04-08T21:35:30+00:00


About Highbanks

Highbanks provides affordable housing and a nurturing community where young families can learn and grow.


The Highbanks program sets us apart with an established housing model that addresses the need for long-term, safe, and affordable housing. We seek to provide security, stability and eliminate any barriers to growth. While young Mothers are required to attend school full-time, our individualized planning and goal setting helps our client/residents visualize and achieve a future of safety, security, joy and contribution.

We believe in the fundamental importance of psychological supports to our Mother-Led families. These therapeutic interventions focus on trauma-informed modalities, and the creation of teaching opportunities through relationships.

Our Mother-led families receive deep support with affordable housing, case management, food security, budgeting, parenting and other daily living skills through the provision of group learning sessions and securing supports from a number of community partner agencies.

  • Parenting Skills: individual and group sessions with a trained parenting coach teach early childhood development tools and strategies.
  • Trauma Therapy: a registered psychologist supports young mothers to deal with systematic abuse and toxic stress.
  • Life Skills: a ‘Life-Wheel’ model of coaching to help young women identify and work towards goals in areas such as parenting, finance, education, emotion, cooking, nutrition and healthy relationships.

Highbanks also offers children’s programs, yoga, community dinners, events, self-esteem workshops, legal support and career counseling. We also invest in the future of our clients by providing recreation fund and an Education Savings Match program.

We see the potential in each person to discover and grow. While each resident ultimately navigates her own path to success, Highbanks provides a safe and supportive community to guide young mothers on their learning journey.

2019 Highbanks Society Annual Report

2020 Highbanks Society Financial Statement


To provide affordable housing and a nurturing community where young families can learn and grow.


A community of educated, confident, self-sufficient parents raising healthy, happy children.


Our Team

Krista Flint
Executive Director

Krista Flint has spent 25 years in the field of asset-based community development and non-profit culture. She is a mom, an advocate, a writer, and a thankful participant in the non-profit community in Canada. She has served as  Executive Director at The Canadian Down Syndrome Society and at Calgary Alternative Support Services, and as Manager of Social Marketing at The Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre.

Krista has extensive experience in curriculum creation and facilitation and has created models and workshops for training in the areas of Social Marketing, Social Justice, New Parent Training, and the Power Differential Evidenced in Paid Service Delivery Models.

Krista has worked with non-profit organizations across North America to help them create strategic plans, conceptualize civic and economic goals, and has become innately successful uncovering and illuminating the social capital that exists in human service when combined with a compelling narrative.  She is widely published in the non-profit and mainstream literature, and is a founding member of The Belonging Initiative, a pan-Canadian initiative, which seeks to eliminate isolation and loneliness in the lives of Canadians who are often marginalized and face systemic barriers to an authentic community life.

Krista has 3 “grownish” boys Oliver, Simon and Charlie – she believes they are the most creative thing she has ever done. She loves watching them blossom into citizens who understand their responsibility to each other, to their communities and to the world at large.

Wendy Deboer
Process and Administrative Coordinator

Wendy is a born and raised Calgarian with several years of diverse career experience, including corporate travel agent, reservations call center manager, payroll and human resources assistant, and entrepreneur. She has also dabbled as a dog walker and a receptionist at a yoga studio! As a volunteer with Soup Sisters and Soroptimist International, she learned about Highbanks Society and was captured by the idea of the program. When she saw the posting for the position, her intuition told her that this was the place for her! 

The role of the Process and Administrative Coordinator provides governance, strategic and operations administrative support to the Executive Director, Board of Directors and staff. This encompasses Office Management, Executive Director & Governance Administration, Building Management, and Volunteer Engagement, with a healthy dose of fun and compassion! Wendy is passionate about building productive relationships with stakeholders, team members, clients and the community. 

When not at Highbanks, Wendy enjoys yoga, the Calgary music scene, traveling with her husband, and walks with her rescue dog Lola.  She is thrilled to be a part of Highbanks’ community and is looking forward to being a part of the growth model.

Shannon Johansen
Family Support Program Lead

Shannon is a passionate and motivated Community Development Professional specializing in bringing value to clients and fostering positive relationships. Shannon has worked in the non-profit sector since 2012 and has successfully created community partnerships, establishing safe non-judgemental inclusive living and learning environments.

Shannon’s most recent experience includes service to our most vulnerable families through Housing and Community Development at CUPS Calgary and in her role as an Indigenous Home Visitor specializing in parenting supports and connecting her clients to their traditional Indigenous Culture and Ceremony at Miskanawah.

Along with extensive training, Shannon brings a wealth of lived experience to her new role at Highbanks. Shannon is a living example of resilience through previously experienced homelessness to becoming a professional in the Calgary homeless sector creating and providing social services for young Mothers and their children.

Shannon is a proud member of the Metis Nations of Alberta and has incorporated cultural practices and ceremony into her daily practice, offering unique approaches to creating community and resolving conflict.

When not at Highbanks, you will find her enjoying time in her craft room quilting with her daughters. As a family, they volunteer to provide loving comfort to those afflicted with cancer by creating and providing quilts to patients. Shannon enjoys time with her family camping, travelling, and walking with her two dogs Loki and Zeus. Shannon and her husband of 22 years, Cory, have two accomplished daughters pursuing their educational goals in Nursing and Apprenticeship Hair Design.

Catherine Siakaluk
Communications & Engagement Coordinator

Catherine is a born and raised Calgarian and passionate about building strong communities that work together to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for everyone. She feels pretty lucky that she got to follow her first passion and that was to stay home and raise her four children. While doing that, she decided to follow in her parent’s footsteps and open her home to foster children, and over an 18-year period was able to foster 13 children. Now that all but one of her kids have flown the coop, she is embarking on a new career all for herself in Communications.

Catherine started her career at Calgary Economic Development where she gained a deep love for Calgary as an amazing place to live and work. From there, she went to United Way of Calgary and Area to help with the 2020 Campaign season. Her time at United Way ignited a devotion to the non-profit sector and a commitment to being part of the solution to Calgary’s social issues.

Highbanks is growing quickly and as the Communications & Engagement Coordinator for Highbanks Society, Catherine’s responsibilities will include developing and implementing a strategic communications and community engagement plan, as well as work with the team to execute Highbank’s signature events, among others, with and for the community.

When not at Highbanks, you can find Catherine at home working towards her Master’s degree in Communication & Leadership, and when not drowning in academia, she finds time to read and crochet.


Our Board of Directors

Winta Asefaw
Vice Chair

Meghan de Silva

Mark Hutchison

Varia Pylypchuk

Robin Boschman

David Ford

Josh Malate

Ellen Wright-Terrill

Denise Cook

Christine Gillespie

Kristi McAllister


Our History


As a parent educator, Bette recognized the need for safe, stable housing for many of the young parents she met. Many of the young women and their children were living in crowded conditions, lacked positive parenting role models and had no hope of improving their situation because they were not attending school regularly or at all.

Bette was inspired to help young moms realize their potential so they could one day live independently as the best parents possible. She named her new organization “Highbanks” after her parents’ cottage which symbolized comfort, home, safety and of being out of the water (on the bank), safe and dry, with a good view of where they had been and where they were going.

Early Stages

In 2001, Bette Mitchell and Lynn Giddings began investigating housing options for single parents in Calgary. When the lack of appropriate housing became obvious, they got to work. An office was set up in Bette’s living room and friends and associates were invited to join the Board of Directors. Bette and Lynn began writing their first proposals for funding. Soon Barb Vogen was recruited and her commitment to developing community partnerships and supporting the early organizing of the Society was invaluable.

After searching for an appropriate building to house Highbanks Society, Bowview Apartments in West Hillhurst was located as the ideal location: close to the Louise Dean School, West Hillhurst Health Clinic, childcare, public transportation, parks and a recreation centre. This 50-year-old two-storey building contained six small apartments with two retail outlets on the ground level. The popular Dairy Lane Café was an added incentive to purchasing the building. Young mothers who lived in the building could work in the café and gain valuable retail job experience. Highbanks purchased the building in December 2002 and took possession on March 1, 2003 – leasing until we became the proud mortgage free owners on November 1, 2003.

Founding Board Members

Elizabeth (Bette) Mitchell ~ 2001-2003, 2010-2012

Phillip Mitchell ~ 2001-2012

Jeff Jamieson ~ 2001-2012

Brian Lester ~ 2001-2004

Lynn Davis ~ 2001-2002

Lynn Giddings ~ 2001-2003

Theresa Morin ~ 2001-2003

Rick Lewis ~ 2001-2015

Suzanne McKinnon ~ 2001-2003

Sandy MacKay ~ 2001-2002

It feels good to have my own place. This makes me feel less like a teen mom, more like a real mom. The independence I get here means I am supporting my son and I have help achieving my goals. 

~ Highbanks Client


The Dairy Lane Café first opened its doors in April of 1950 and has been a fixture of the West Hillhurst community ever since. They are proud to carry on the tradition of the small, independently owned neighbourhood business. Their mission is to provide great tasting, high quality food while minimizing their environmental footprint and giving a little back to the community. Dairy Lane Café uses locally produced and organic ingredients whenever possible. Dairy Lane recycles everything they can, and proudly supports Highbanks Society—an organization committed to assisting young single parent families.

Jim Lawn joined the Bowview family in July 2003 when he moved his barbershop over from Harry’s next door for the opportunity of a long-term lease. He provided quality men’s hairstyling and laughs in true Scottish style. In 2008, Jim and Highbanks welcomed Omar Sleiman. Together they operated under the banner of Velvet Style. Until he retired in 2012, Jim did his barbering on the right side of the room, while Omar did hair styling on the left. They have both been very supportive members of the Highbanks community.

Highbanks gives hope to these young families by providing: