University of Calgary

Jessica Shaw

  • Assistant Professor
  • Aboriginal Issues, Indigenous Education, Rural & Northern Practice
  • Advocacy
  • Dual/Multiple Relationships
  • Field Education
  • Gender

Currently Teaching


Jessica Shaw has been a sessional instructor with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary since January 2012, and has been an Assistant Professor since January 2016. Jessica was born on Manitoulin Island and grew up in rural Northern Ontario. Her experiences as a youth in a rural community helped to shape her social work understanding of the importance of service accessibility, and of the nature of dual and multiple relationships. In addition to her Social Work degrees, Jessica holds both undergraduate and graduate specializations in Women and Gender Studies, and is a DONA trained birth doula. In recognition of the need to connect full spectrum doulas (doulas who provide services for people of all genders, in all settings, and for all pregnancy outcomes) with clients and with each other, Jessica started the Full Spectrum Doula Collective of Canada in 2014. 

Jessica is widely known for her work as the Research Coordinator at Canadians for Choice (now Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights), where she produced the report Reality check: A close look at accessing abortion services in Canadian hospitals. Jessica’s work on abortion access has been recognized nationally and internationally. Currently, Jessica serves on the Board of Directors for Women Help Women, an international organization that bridges the gap between abortion rights advocacy and service provision.

Research and Scholarly Activity

Areas of focus: critical social work, diversity and social justice, narrative inquiry, feminist theory and practice. 

Current Research

Jessica is currently involved with a number of research projects related to medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Canada. She has worked with the first cohort of physicians who have provided MAiD (outside of Québec), and has documented their experiences, as well as the experiences of their patients and the patients’ family and friends. Her most recent study is a Participatory Action Research project that explores the perceptions and experiences of MAiD within highly marginalized populations.

Jessica is also invested in understanding marginalized experiences of reproductive rights, sexual rights, self-determination in healthcare, and body positivity, including: cishet, queer, and transgender menstrual and pregnancy experiences; menstrual extraction; abortion and birth doulas; self-managed abortion; the midwifery model of care; polyamory and relationship orientation; naturism.


PhD, University of Calgary

MSW, Lakehead University

BSW, Lakehead University

BA, University of Ottawa

Professional and Community Associations

Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (2013-2015)

Canadian Association of Social Work Education (2013-2017)

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (Transition Board Member 2012-2014)

Dying with Dignity (Speaking Ambassador 2012-2014)

Canadians for Choice (Board Member and Research Committee Co-chair 2012-2014)

Jer’s Vision: A Youth Diversity Initiative (2006-2008; 2013-2014)

Ottawa Distress Centre & Mental Health Crisis Line (2007-2008)

The Miss G__ Project (2006-2008)

Alberta College of Social Wrokers (2016 - present)


Canadian Federation of University Women Calgary Graduate Scholarship (2013)

Ron Ghitter Award in Human Rights (2013)

University of Calgary Open Doctoral Scholarship (2013)

University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work Scholarship (2013)

Professional Development Grant (2013)

James Gripton Doctoral Scholarship in Social Work (2011)

Faculty of Social Work Graduate Scholarship (2010)

Lakehead University Entrance Scholarship (2008)

Catherine and Jean-Pierre Soublière Scholarship in Women's Studies (2006)

University of Ottawa Admission Scholarship (2003)

Ontario Lieutenant Governor's Community Volunteer Award for Students (2003)

Publications from 2008-Present

Shaw, J. (in press). Thinking with stories: Narrative inquiry as a transformative social work epistemology and methodology. Canadian Social Work Review.


Shaw, J., & Haney, C. (in press). A thought exercise: Thinking through the found poetry of Canadian abortion providers. Journal of Poetry Therapy.  


Shaw, J. (in press). Abortion providers as mothers, with mothers. In K. Kosior & H. Jackson (Eds.), Mothering and Abortion. Toronto, ON: Demeter Press.


Shaw, J. (2014). “November 8, 1994.” Active History. 


Shaw, J. (2013). Abortion as a social justice issue in contemporary Canada. Critical Social Work, 14(2).


Shaw, J. (2013). Full-spectrum reproductive justice: The affinity of abortion rights and birth activism. Studies in Social Justice, 7(1).  


Shaw, J.C. (2013). The medicalization of birth and midwifery as resistance. Health Care for Women International, 34(6), 522-536. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2012.736569


Shaw, J., Ormiston, A., & Weeds, C. (2008). 10 years in Ontario women’s reproductive health: Abortion access, midwifery and birth control. Toronto, ON: Ontario Women’s Health Network. 


LaRue, P., & Shaw, J. (2007). Rural access to abortion care in Canada. Philadelphia, PA: Medical Students for Choice. 


Shaw, J. (2007). Reality check: a close look at accessing abortion services in Canadian hospitals. Ottawa, ON: Canadians for Choice. 



In progress:


Shaw, J. (2017). Shifting the narrative of conscientious objection.


Shaw, J., Wiebe, E., Nuhn, A., Holmes, S., Kelly, M., & Just, A. (2017). Providing medical assistance in dying in British Columbia: Practice perspectives.


Holmes, S., Nuhn, A., Kelly, M., Just, A., Shaw, J., Wiebe, E. (2017). Experiences and perspectives of patients who pursued medical assistance in dying in Canada.


Nuhn, A., Holmes, S., Just, A., Shaw, J., Wiebe, E. (2017). Experiences of family and friends of patients who pursued medical assistance in dying in Canada.

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