Our Story

When women create spaces within a potentially or actually exploitative system, they carve out opportunities and come to see their work as empowerment and emancipation. Efforts at eliminating such spaces are, in turn, seen as domination or colonization of women’s bodies, as yet another form of violence.

- Catia C. Confortini, 2017

group of children running after soccer ball

It takes a village to make a change.

It is this simple idea that has created a movement. 

Michele Lemonius was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada when she was a teenager. She was raised in a single-parent household after her dad passed away when she was 14. Michele has always felt a need to give back to the community and has worked with the marginalized population in Toronto for over 15 years. “We all deserve a better way of living, sometimes we just need someone to open a door for us, or just encourage us to see beyond ourselves,” says Michele. 

Michele met BreakingNew co-founder, Michele Mundy in her first master’s program (Master in Conflict Analysis and Management) at Royal Roads University in 2003. Michele Mundy is an Indigenous woman, born and raised on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Mundy is Kwakwaka’akw from the ’Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay. She has devoted her career to working with Indigenous people and works to contribute to systemic changes that support improved outcomes for Indigenous people.

Both women hold shared visions to give back and commitment to projects that promote social justice/change. One of the shared visions they hold is BreakingNew. “The idea of BreakingNew has always been,” recalls Michele, “It is about giving back, breaking barriers, seeing beyond our perceived limitations. We are so much more as individuals and communities.”

So what is BreakingNew? It’s a for-profit community venture with a focus on social impact. It’s a village coming together to make changes. It’s about the individual, the family, the business owner all working together to address issues of violence that affect each one of them. It’s about the community doing it their way, whatever their way looks like. They decide the intervention; they decide if it’s affordable and they decide how it will be sustained. BreakingNew is there to guide them along the way, helping them realize their vision.

The inaugural community that BreakingNew is taking place in is none other than Michele’s native country, Jamaica. When a call was put out to address the issue of violence using sport for peace, she couldn’t pass up the offer to start their flagship project in a place so close to her heart, her first home. 

“This project in Jamaica – The GIFT – is our coming out, a community, us as peace researchers and practitioners, as well as educators, creating spaces at the grassroots to address issues and assisting the process of coming up with resolutions that work for the communities,” says Michele.

“We believe that individuals and communities can only empower themselves. Who knows better about what the people within the community need than themselves. They will work for themselves if given a chance,” says Michele. “They are part of the process, and they know what will work for them. It is about responsibility and accountability, being actively part of the process. It’s about respecting and meeting people where they are at. 

When asked what the anticipated outcome for this project is, Michele answered with one word that carries so much weight within the BreakingNew organization – sustainability.

As for their goals in the future, they both hope to take on more projects both nationally and internationally. Most importantly, they would like the communities who choose to work with BreakingNew to sustainably meet every goal and expectation they have entrusted them to assist with. 

group of children running after soccer ball

Michele Lemonius

Founder & President

Michele Lemonius is responsible for business development, including research and project development, and building partnerships. She holds an MA in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University, an MA in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba.

As a researcher, educator and peace activist, she continues to facilitate a process that encourages creating spaces for dialogue, and self-discovery; that embraces all experiences as integral parts of one whole; that allows each human contact to be an experience of critical reflection where meaning is challenged in an effort to provide personal and professional growth.

Michele has worked in the social service sector from the front line to Director of Programs for over 15 years, addressing homelessness, domestic violence and the creation of solution-focused community programs in Toronto, Peel Region and Waterloo Region. As a trained mediator, she has facilitated organizational mediations, and community mediations while volunteering with St. Stephen’s Conflict Resolution Team. Michele has exercised her philosophy as an educator inside the classroom, where she promoted inclusivity in the classroom environment, encouraging and motivating students to reach beyond the boundaries of their experiences to embrace differences.

Michele was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada over 30 years ago and has strong ties to the Jamaican diaspora in Toronto where she spent most of her life. She has conducted qualitative, multi method research in organization and community, specific to the causes of conflict in the workplace, and the experiences of Jamaican immigrant women in Canada.

Michele Mundy

Michele Mundy

Founder & Vice-President

Michele Mundy is responsible for cultural safety training, project development and film production. She holds an MA in Conflict Analysis and Management, a BA in Child & Youth Care and a Diploma in Business Administration. She has facilitated Indigenous Cultural Safety training since 2011, maintaining ongoing contracts in both cultural safety training, project development and film production.

Michele previously managed responsibilities for a Treaty Group of six Northern Vancouver Island First Nations, involved in tripartite negotiations. She has worked as a social worker for 15 years, both in First Nations communities and with the Provincial Government of BC in policy development for Aboriginal delegated Child & Family service agencies. She has conducted community action research in First Nation communities, specific to indigenous health, indigenous children in care and injustice.

Michele is of First Nation and Scottish descent. She is of Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry, a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation with ties to Kingcome Inlet, Turnour Island, Village Island and Fort Rupert. Michele grew up in her home community of Alert Bay but has lived most of her life in Victoria, BC. She holds strong connections and passion for bringing forward an Indigenous voice and lens in all of her work.