Born in 1963, Ellen was raised in the eastern part of Canada in an atheistic, dysfunctional family, where she would be parentified and made the family scapegoat. She went on to study nursing at the University of Toronto following high school in 1982, but was unable to complete the degree because of something she considers a “thorn in her flesh,” a serious health condition that simply came upon her, also known as a major disability that remains lifelong, major depression.
In the summer of 1987, Ellen could not help but notice the many monarch butterflies that flew in her line of vision; so many were they that she started to think Someone was trying to get her attention; thus, her belief in God was birthed. Soon thereafter, a friend invited her to her church where Ellen accepted Jesus into her heart, making Him “Boss” of her life.
With her condition in remission, she felt led to earn a bachelor's degree, graduating in 1995. At that time, she was presented with an award for exemplary character. She went on to complete a master's of divinity degree in counselling in 1998, also from Tyndale University and Seminary. Ellen worked concurrently as an instructor/lifeguard, something she did for about 20 years.
Developing another serious, lifelong, and what would end up to be, chronic health condition in 2001, paraplegia, further limited her in some ways; she however was given the nickname, “Ellen of Joy” in 2004 and led many groups, including group therapy, adult Bible classes and studies, and support groups.