Speakers

Information will be available soon.
Craig Abotossaway

BSW, MSW, RSW, Executive Director

Mnaamodzawin Health Services Inc, Ontario

Craig Abotossaway

BSW, MSW, RSW, Executive Director

Mnaamodzawin Health Services Inc, Ontario

Craig is an Anishnabe, from Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation. Craig has extensive experience in the Health sector, carrying a Masters of Social Work degree from Wilfred Laurier University, in which he specialized in Indigenous Health Practices and approach to wellness. As a former Chief of his community, Craig brings to this position a strong understanding of community and individual needs of each of the member First Nations. As a member of the Anishnabek community, Craig has an extensive background in the cultural and ceremonial practices of the Anishnabe people, as a pipe carrier and traditional drummer, which is integrated into his work and role as Executive Director, for the tribal health office, Mnaamodzawin Health Services. Mnaamodzawin is a multi disciplinary health services agency, services its member First Nation communities on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

Craig is passionate about furthering the agenda of Indigegogy and bringing an understanding of the relevance of Indigenous Health Practice in a modern setting. Craig sits as a board member on the Northern Ontario School of Medicine assisting in bringing forth the relevance of Indigenous Practice to future doctors in northern Ontario. Craig is an accomplished speaker, who brings a variety of experiences and knowledge to the Health sector.

Elaine Allison

Health Director, Wagmatcook Health Centre

Wagmatcook First Nation

Elaine Allison

Health Director, Wagmatcook Health Centre

Wagmatcook First Nation

Elaine Allison has been working in health care in Indigenous communities for over 30 years. She is currently a Health Director in a First Nation community in Nova Scotia Wagmatcook Health Centre, Wagmatcook First Nations. She has been a surveyor for Accreditation Canada for ten plus years.

Jena Ashley

Communications and Engagement Strategist

We Matter

Jena Ashley

Communications and Engagement Strategist

We Matter

Jena Ashley (She/Her) is a Cree and settler mix who began her journey reconnecting to her community throughout high school and University. Jena is a member of Kashechewan First Nation, born in Moose Factory, ON, and raised in Temiskaming Shores, ON. She is currently occupying the unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory in Ottawa, ON. Jena graduated from the University of Guelph February 2022 with her Bachelor’s of Arts. Jena’s dedication to her roots and cultural identity is evident throughout her life. During her time at University, Jena held several student leadership positions with the Indigenous Student Society, Guelph Central Student Association, and the Circle of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Students. Outside of her professional pursuits, she enjoys immersing herself in video games, reading, and beading.

Candace Bennett

Executive Director

First Nations Housing Professionals Association

Candace Bennett

Executive Director

First Nations Housing Professionals Association

Candace is a resident status member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, located about 1.5 hours west of Ottawa, where she has lived for the past 40 plus years. Candace is a specialist in the field of First Nation housing management and policy development. She has extensive experience in the analysis of on-reserve policy development and implementation and has 24 years of experience working within the First Nation Housing Industry. Her long-time career has exposed her to the many facets of delivering First Nations Housing and the many gaps present for Housing Managers. Her breadth of exposure spans across First Nation grass roots, provincial, national, political, and private industry.
After serving in her community housing department for 10 years, she expanded her career with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in program delivery and aboriginal capacity development out of Sudbury’s point of service location and accepted a transfer to National office where she further expanded her knowledge and experience with delivering homeownership programs, capacity development and partnership relations. As a natural progression she moved on to the Assembly of First Nations as their Senior Housing Advisor to gain experience on the political nature on a national scale. She then returned to her community to become the General Manager of AOPFN Limited Partnership, managing First Nation owed businesses including solar energy, then entered the world of private industry as the Vice President of Indigenous Business with Innovation 7, a consulting firm. In January of 2021 Candace took on the role of Executive Director of the First Nations Housing Professionals Association.
Candace earned her designation as a First Nation Housing Professional (FNHP) with FNHPA in December 2020, she recently achieved her Certified Indigenous Leader (CIL) designation through the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association. She is committed to expanding her education in the area of First Nation administration and her dedication to learning and is currently working towards her Certified Aboriginal Professional Administrator designation with AFOA.

Theresa Charles

Culture Support Worker, IRS Program

Lac La Ronge Indian Band Health Services

Theresa Charles

Culture Support Worker, IRS Program

Lac La Ronge Indian Band Health Services

Theresa Linda Charles is originally from Stanley Mission, Saskatchewan. Theresa moved to La Ronge, Saskatchewan on Treaty six territory in 2018 and studied 2 years in a Mental Health and Wellness Program. Theresa graduated and received a diploma in June 2020. Theresa is currently working for Lac La Ronge Health services as an IRS Culture Support worker.

Suicide, domestic violence, and alcohol and drug abuse that are greatly affecting Indigenous people in Northern Communities, and likely stem from Residential Schools. Part of our goal in this program is to help people suffering from their traumas will go back to our Indigenous roots as part of decolonization and to help them with their healing journey.

For the past 35 years, Theresa has been actively involved in the Woodland Cree Culture as a resource person doing activities with youth such as preparing fish, ducks, snaring rabbits, preparing moose hides and tanning them.

Teaching life skills of the land and sharing knowledge and skills of the land, Theresa thinks it is very important to teach young people respect, values and their roots to help them connect, so they know who they are as Indigenous people. Theresa genuinely believes that it is our Elders are our teachers and mentors that help us cope with difficulties of life. Theresa has great experience of land-based knowledge and teachings of traditional way of life. Theresa is approachable and has great empathy and compassion for people. Theresa’s life experience and education is a great asset in helping people overcome many obstacles they may be facing.

Carol Couchie

Anishnawbe Midwife

National Council, Association of Ontario Midwives

Carol Couchie

Anishnawbe Midwife

National Council, Association of Ontario Midwives

Carol Couchie is a Anishnawbekwe and grandmother and founding member of the National Council of Indigenous Midwives (NCIM). She has served as a board member on an Indigenous women’s shelter in Toronto and has served Indigenous communities on the board of the College of Midwives of Manitoba and the Canadian Association of Midwives. Carol has chaired the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada’s (SOGC) Aboriginal Women’s Health Committee and helped write the SOGC recommendations on returning birth to rural and remote Aboriginal communities, as well as recommendations for rural and remote maternity care. She also co-chaired the first National Indigenous Women’s Health Committee with and for NCIM and Pauktuutit. She currently works for both the Association of Ontario Midwives and is the Traveling Midwife and mentorship lead for the Education Framework of the National Council of Indigenous Midwives. Carol is passionate about midwifery and a strong traditional teacher. She comes from a Family tradition of Midwifery, as her great grandmother was a midwife in her village of K’Tigaaning, her niece Evelyn George is a midwife who lives and works in a First Nation in BC, and Carol is extremely proud to work with her daughter, Rachel Dennis Couchie who is also a midwife in their community in Nipissing First Nation.

Kristina Crooks

Consulting Indigenous Services

MNP LLP

Kristina Crooks

Consulting Indigenous Services

MNP LLP

Kristina Crooks is a Senior Manager in the Indigenous Services Consulting team in Calgary. Kristina has 15 years of experience working with Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada on Indigenous health consulting including governance, community needs assessments, strategic planning, and program development. Kristina has worked on a range of projects and reports involving extensive primary and secondary research, writing and toolkit development. Kristina has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Masters in Economic Development.

Kristina has extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of Indigenous Health, economic and community governance, strategic planning, business planning, training, report writing and toolkit development. With this deep knowledge and experience Kristina develops practical solutions and delivers results for her clients.
Prior to starting her consulting career, Kristina worked with Indigenous communities in Paraguay. Her most recent work experience before joining MNP was as a Program Specialist with Alberta’s Indigenous Business Development Services and as a Consultation Lead with TC Energy.

Marion Crowe

CFNHM, CAFM, CAPA, Chief Executive Officer

First Nations Health Managers Association

Marion Crowe

CFNHM, CAFM, CAPA, Chief Executive Officer

First Nations Health Managers Association

Marion is a proud member of the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan and was the founding Executive Director, now Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA).
Assisting community members in the development of professional development opportunities and certification has always been a passion for Marion, as she was a founding Board of Director for the Saskatchewan Chapter of AFOA Canada.
Marion has been awarded achievement milestones, including: a Health Canada Deputy Minister’s Award of Excellence; a Centennial Leadership Award from the Province of Saskatchewan; and the AFOA Canada – Xerox Canada National Award of Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership in 2015. Marion was also the first person in Canada to receive her CAFM, CAPA, CIL and CFNHM designations, from AFOA Canada and FNHMA.
On June 21, 2017, Marion was appointed as the first Indigenous person to The Ottawa Hospital, Board of Governors and currently sits as the Vice Chair of the Quality Committee, and Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Circle. Marion is also a member of the Leadership and Governance Technical Committee with the International Health Standards Organization. In May 2018 Marion attended the Harvard Business School and completed the ‘Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities’ certificate.
Marion was also the first Indigenous person appointed to the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Board of Governors, and served as the Vice-Chair, from 2021 to 2023.

Ashleigh Delaye

Senior Policy Analyst

Assembly of First Nations

Ashleigh Delaye

Senior Policy Analyst

Assembly of First Nations

Ashleigh Delaye is the Senior Policy Analyst leading policy files relating to child and family services at the AFN. In her role at the AFN, Ashleigh works to develop policy options and advocacy efforts to support First Nations’ child and family service priorities in both long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Service Program and with respect to An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. She is particularly dedicated to data collection frameworks to support evidence-based funding and programming decisions in child and family services. Prior to joining the AFN she worked on research used to develop recommendations and remedies by the Ontario Human Rights Commission inquiry into the Overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black children in child welfare, the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection in Quebec, and on Jordan’s Principle for the Assembly of First Nations. Ashleigh was born into a mixed European-settler family in Treaty 7 territory (Moh’kinsstis, aka Calgary) and has a Master of Social Work from McGill University and a Master of Religious Studies and Philosophy from Concordia University. She now lives and works in the traditional and unceded territory of the Anishnaabe and Algonquin near the confluence of the Rideau and Ottawa rivers.

Mary Deleary

Training & Education Manager

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Mary Deleary

Training & Education Manager

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Mary Deleary is Algonquin Anishinabe originating from the First Nation community of Kitigan Zibi(Quebec). Mary is a mother, Grandmother, Great-grandmother, Spiritual Knowledge Keeper/ Teacher. For Mary, a lifelong dedication to the pursuit of Indigenous knowledge and practice is grounded and nurtured through the Midewiwin “way of the heart”. Mary serves in a leadership role as the Training & Education Manager within the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation providing expertise in Indigenous Knowledge Exchange/ Translation. Mary has also devoted several years to the field of Indigenous-based education including the development and establishment of culturally relevant post-secondary programs to meet the specific needs of First Nation individuals and communities. The combination of years of Indigenous learning within traditional lodges, and a mainstream University education along with career and life experience enables Mary to contribute wholistically to Thunderbird Partnership Foundations implementation of the ’Honouring our Strengths Renewal Framework’ and the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework.

Aliesha Desjarlais

CFNHM, Education Specialist

First Nations Health Managers Association

Aliesha Desjarlais

CFNHM, Education Specialist

First Nations Health Managers Association

Aliesha Desjarlais (she/her) – Strives daily to be as grounded as the buffalo while dancing free like the hummingbird. Her family life, career, and spiritual beliefs help her to observe, listen, and put into practice the values taught to her by the First People of Turtle Island.

Aliesha has been married for over 23 years and has raised 2 children from her multi-faith home in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba since she was 18 years old; she is fortunate to have the blessing of being welcomed at a young age and trained in the value and ways of her Community throughout her entire life.

Aliesha has over 20 years of experience working for the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in various roles within Health, Social Development, Entrepreneurship, and Food Sovereignty. Her established respect and trust, coupled with her MBA- or “Mop and Bucket Attitude”, have resulted in creative initiatives and programming that maximized resources and positively impacted individuals’ personal lives, the Organization, and the Community as a whole.

As a former Director of Health during the 2020 pandemic, Aliesha will always cherish the hard work of the dedicated team of leaders and health professionals she served with and who strived to keep people healthy while maintaining the quality of life during this period of uncertainty and constant change. As a Certified First Nations Health Manager, Career Coach, Quality Assurance and Technical Assistant, she has demonstrated proficiencies in fostering grassroots methods, strong teamwork, and results-centered leadership.

Aliesha relates to others with authenticity and sincerity, believing that individuals have the right to determine their own path in life, family, and beliefs while understanding that we come into each other’s lives to learn who we are through our relationships with those around us. She strives daily to humbly walk with the First People of Turtle Island and is honored to continue to be welcomed, to work and to learn the ways taught by the ether, sun, air, water, and land.

Lauren Doxtater

Associate Director, Social Development

Assembly of First Nations

Lauren Doxtater

Associate Director, Social Development

Assembly of First Nations

Lauren Doxtater is a proud member of Six Nations of the Grand River, Bay of Quinte Mohawk and Wikwemikong First Nation Anishinaaabe kwe. Lauren is a passionate, macro level, registered social worker who is devoted to achieving social justice and equity for First Nations peoples. Lauren has dedicated her career to First Nations social development through research, strategic planning, and advocacy to advance equity and right-based inclusion for off and on-reserve First Nations peoples, vulnerable populations and violences towards women, at the grassroots and organizational levels for over 15 years. Lauren works as the Associate Director of Social Development at the Assembly of First Nations supporting the management of files related to Income Assistance, Assisted Living, Poverty, Jordan’s Principle and Child and Family Services. Lauren’s professional experience is in the areas of Indigenous education, community-based and participatory action research, and social development with municipal government. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science and a Master of Social Work degree, graduating with distinction and received the Faculty Recognition award for Diversity and Human Rights Advocacy. She currently resides with her family in Baawaating Territory, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Anne Duquette

Program Manager, Mental Wellness Team Supports

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Anne Duquette

Program Manager, Mental Wellness Team Supports

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Anne joined FPWC June 2018 as a Project Coordinator and was responsible for overseeing the development of a comprehensive support model for new and existing Mental Wellness and Crisis Support Teams across the country. In 2019, the Mental Wellness Teams Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) was completed. It outlined areas for growth, development and improved capacity for Mental Wellness Teams. Currently as the Program Manager, MWT Supports, Anne is responsible for overseeing the ongoing development of a suite of comprehensive supports guided by recommendations from the CNA to ensure priority supports for the Mental Wellness Teams are created, available and delivered. Anne strongly believes on-going engagement from the ground up, providing networking opportunities and sharing of wise practices is the key to achieving the relevant supports this workforce would welcome.

Raised in Nipissing First Nation and currently living in Dokis First Nation, Anne has a strong understanding of First Nation community living; the strengths, rooted connections and power of the land. She has built her forever home with her husband there, has two adult sons and two Bernese Mountain dogs. Anne spends as much time as she can participating in outdoor activities- fishing, hiking, walking the trap line, berry picking and any other activities that help her be present with the elements.

Anne has a BSc., Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University and a BEd. from Nipissing University. She spent a majority of her career working in non-Indigenous led Corporations, in various management positions and brings a variety of skills, perspectives and experience, a passion for learning and a dedication to supporting mental wellness for the workforce to the team.

Marie Frawley-Henry

Senior Policy Analyst

Assembly of First Nations

Marie Frawley-Henry

Senior Policy Analyst

Assembly of First Nations

Marie Frawley-Henry is a citizen of Nipissing First Nation, Ontario, and is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Marie is serving in the AFN Health Sector to advance the accessibility and disability inclusion work. Marie is a former AFN Director of International Relations supporting leaderships efforts in the United Nations processes including the Organization of American States processes and was instrumental in the early advocacy efforts on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Marie has served in several voluntary and advisory roles, on boards and foundations, including as Director of First Nations Programs for Global Mother Divine Canada and the Tony Blair and Belinda Stronach Foundation – Faith Acts Canada.

Tyler Geisler

RSW, MSW, Education Liaison

SE Health First Nations, Inuit and Métis Program

Tyler Geisler

RSW, MSW, Education Liaison

SE Health First Nations, Inuit and Métis Program

Tyler Geisler is an Education Liaison with SE Health and has a private practice where he provides mental health counseling. Tyler has received his Master of Social Work from Dalhousie University and has a certification in play therapy as well as nature and forest therapy. Prior to SE Health, Tyler has worked as a Social Worker in various health settings and the past 5 years in tribal health as a Mental Health Therapist and most recently as a Director of Health. Through this experience, Tyler is able to understand and identify needs for patient care outside of the biomedical model to ensure holistic care and how societal structures impact the welfare of others.
Tyler is a father of five boys who enjoys sports, learning, traveling, cultures and being on hikes and at home with his children. Tyler was named one of CBC’s Top 40 Under 40 for community activism and continues to be involved in volunteering and community-based programs.

Angela George

Clinic Director

Sts’ailes Community Care Centre

Angela George

Clinic Director

Sts’ailes Community Care Centre

Angela Paul (formerly George) carries the ancestral name, qʷənat. Angela’s late mother is from Sḵwxwú7mesh and her late father is from Sts’ailes. Angela is the proud mother of 5 children and grandmother of 3, heavily engaged in the Sts’ailes and larger Coast Salish community on many levels. Angela is the Executive Director for the Sts’ailes Community Care Campus (SCCC), a First Nations-led Primary Health Care Clinic in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia. She has an extensive background in First Nations social and cultural development, community engagement, education and health planning, program development and implementation.
This Coast Salish weaver has dedicated her career to the betterment of First Nations people and communities. Traditionally groomed, she has a strong understanding of her culture and spiritual teachings and the impacts of colonization and barriers that plague First Nations communities. She has a strong passion for traditional canoe racing, weaving and cultural singing and dancing and believes that reviving and practicing traditions and having a strong sense of identity and connection to our ancestors is vital to community wellness, development and sustainability.
Angela is working on her PhD in Arts Education, and has completed her MBA in Indigenous Business Leadership at SFU. She designed and created a 10’ Weaving Governance panel for her final MBA Capstone Project, researching traditional laws of the land, to help re-instate the value of Coast Salish weavings as Holders of Knowledge and living and guiding documents. Angela is humbled by the gift of traditional weaving—she holds this connection to her late mother and Sḵwxwú7mesh ancestry and Sts’ailes and Coast Salish connections dearly, and carries the gift of weaving with integrity and responsibility to share in a way that helps to create awareness, stewardship and harmony within our communities. Angela is now Weaving Wellness, championing the SCCC initiative to transform health by weaving together the best of traditional and western health and wellness methods.

Chyloe Healy

Statistical Analyst

First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, and Member of the Kainai Blood Tribe

Chyloe Healy

Statistical Analyst

First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, and Member of the Kainai Blood Tribe

Chyloe Healy is from Kainai First Nation in Southern Alberta, and resides in Calgary, Alberta. She graduated from Mount Royal University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in General Science with a minor in Biology. Immediately after graduation, she worked for the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre as a data analyst and research assistant. Through this work she became very interested in the necessity to provide equity for access to information within underserved communities. It has become her passion to find innovative ways to begin to build information governance capacity for First Nation communities within Canada and to learn from other nations, across Canada and globally, on how to overcome information poverty. For the work discussed in the presentation, Chyloe worked with the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba and the Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council as the Alberta Project Coordinator for Supporting the Trajectories of Our Spirit: Living Kiipaataapiisiinii (Our Spiritual Way of Life) Project. Currently, Chyloe is pursuing a Master’s of Public Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

Carol Hopkins

Chief Executive Officer

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Carol Hopkins

Chief Executive Officer

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Carol Hopkins is the Chief Executive Officer of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and is of the Lenape Nation, Canada.  Carol was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Canada, 2018.  In 2019, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Western University. 
 
Carol has spent more than 25 years in the field of First Nations substance use and mental health.  She holds both a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto and a degree in Midewiwin, a sacred medicine society where she is also a Chief and leader.  This society is a source of sacred Indigenous Knowledge which Carol then translates into accessible means to inform mental wellness of First Nations.   
 
Carol has throughout her career, made use of Indigenous knowledge in research, policy, practice-based evidence, teaching, and education, and in facilitating processes of decolonization specific to epistemic racism.   She has co-chaired national initiatives known for best practice in national policy review and development.  Her leadership has been engaged within Health and Mental Health for First Nations, Provincial, Territorial, and Federal governments serving several expert advisory committees and task groups.

Marie Jebb

RNBN, Primary and Clinical Case Manager

Opaskwayak Cree Nation

Marie Jebb

RNBN, Primary and Clinical Case Manager

Opaskwayak Cree Nation

Marie L. Jebb is Cree and a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba.  She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. Marie obtained her Bachelor of Nursing Degree from the University of Manitoba and Northern Clinical Nursing from McMaster University in Hamilton. She has been nursing for 31 years.  She attended residential school. Marie is passionate about sharing the importance of cultural competence, cultural knowledge, and cultural translation as it relates to Indigenous health and wellness. Marie has served on various boards, and she is a member of the Manitoba First Nations Nursing Council and the National Native Quality Improvement Committee. Marie was honored to represent Manitoba as National Native Role Model. Marie has also served on Chief and Council for the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

Lori Keith

CFNHM, Special Advisor

First Nations Health Managers Association

Lori Keith

CFNHM, Special Advisor

First Nations Health Managers Association

Lori has had the privilege of working in Indigenous health for over 20 years. She grew up in the far north and since moving south, she has worked with the federal government, with not-for-profit associations, with First Nation communities, and with a variety of Indigenous organizations.

She has authored and co-authored several publications and has created and delivered workshops to thousands of participants across Canada.

She is honoured to have helped develop the FNHMA certification curriculum, and was their founding and lead instructor for many years.

Over her career, Lori has worked with learners of all ages and as a life-long learner herself, suggests that no one is ever too old to discover new ideas!

She now works on special projects with the First Nations Health Managers Association, in collaboration with First Nation health managers across Canada.

She has earned an MBA, a “Professional Certificate for Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing”, is a trained facilitator, and is a certified change management practitioner. However, her greatest pride and joy are her family, including her four sons, daughters-in-law, and her three amazing grandchildren.

Dianne Lafond

First Nations Health Ombudsperson

First Nations Health Ombudsperson Office Inc.

Dianne Lafond

First Nations Health Ombudsperson

First Nations Health Ombudsperson Office Inc.

Dianne Lafond is a Cree Treaty First Nation woman, born and raised on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. Both her mother and father are residential school survivors and spent nine years in St. Michaels Residential School. Her father served their Nation as one of the long-standing Chiefs as well as a Veteran and passed in 1989. Her 86-year-old mother has raised eleven children and is Dianne’s strongest and most passionate supporter, and now lives with Dianne. Dianne has 3 sons and 1 daughter who are her foundation and from whom she draws her strength.

Dianne has a business administration and other professional health designations. Throughout her career, she has worked as a Health Director, a Director of Operations, a Non-Insured Health Benefits Navigator, and she is now the First Nations Health Ombudsperson in Saskatchewan and Canada. Her working career has spanned over a period of more than 30 years. The experience and knowledge with respect to health and traditional cultural teachings is paramount in the work that she does. She is a proud Cree woman who has advocated tirelessly for fair and respectable treatment of First Nations. She believes that First Nations have a treaty right to health and this has been instilled in her since she was a young woman and she believes that it is important to keep in mind that First Nations have an inherent right to self determination and that this is critical in the health of our people.

She is humbled and honored to lead such an important organization as a servant for our people and has the passion and strength to be our voice and to clear a path for future generations to come.

Relationships, partnerships and a good understanding of who we are as First Nations people. “Our Voice Matters”.

Alika Lafontaine

Indigenous Physician | Healthcare Leader and Changemaker and Past President, Canadian Medical Association

Alika Lafontaine

Indigenous Physician | Healthcare Leader and Changemaker and Past President, Canadian Medical Association

Named Maclean’s top Health Care Innovator of 2023, Dr. Alika Lafontaine has been at the epicentre of healthcare system change for almost two decades. He is the first Indigenous physician and the youngest doctor to lead the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in its 156-year history, and the first Indigenous physician to be listed on The Medical Post’s 50 Most Powerful Doctors. As an experienced health leader, Lafontaine speaks eloquently and passionately on the politics of healthcare, implementing and scaling equity, effective advocacy, and redesigning health systems.

Working at the intersection of advocacy and implementation, Lafontaine has held both provincial and national medical leadership positions. From 2013-2017, he co-led the Indigenous Health Alliance, growing it into one of the most ambitious Indigenous health transformation projects in Canadian history. At its peak, the Alliance represented more than 150 First Nations and successfully advocated for $68 million in funding. In 2017, the Alliance was recognized by the Public Policy Forum, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presenting Lafontaine with the inaugural Emerging Indigenous Leader award.

Drawing on the work of the Alliance and his own personal experiences, Lafontaine went on to found Safespace Networks, an anonymous learning platform for reporting racism and healthcare harm. It’s grown to include reporting networks in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, providing protection for patients and families and assisting them with navigating fragmented and confusing health reporting processes.

During his presidency year at the CMA, Lafontaine was the driving force behind securing the largest nominal Federal investment in healthcare since 2004, breakthrough changes in physician credential recognition in several provinces (including a first-of-its-kind Atlantic physician registry), and strong commitments to national collaboration in managing health data and health human resources between provincial, territorial, and national governments. The CMA also adopted a long-term Indigenous health goal and began an apology process related to Indigenous patient maltreatment in Canada’s healthcare systems, which Lafontaine continues to lead today.

Grounded in a mixed Indigenous ancestry of Metis, Oji-Cree and Pacific Islander, Lafontaine completed his medical degree and anesthesia fellowship training at the University of Saskatchewan before moving to northern Alberta where he has spent most of his clinical career. He was named one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” and is the youngest recipient of an Indpsire Award.

Amanda Larocque

CFNHM, Director of Health and Wellness

Gesgapegiag Health and Community Services

Amanda Larocque

CFNHM, Director of Health and Wellness

Gesgapegiag Health and Community Services

Amanda Larocque is a Health Director from the Gesgapegiag First Nation, located on the traditional Mig’gmaq territory of Gespe’gewag’gi covering the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec.  

Amanda is an Indigenous Mi’gmaq woman and is a Certified First Nations Health Manager.

Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Work degree and recently graduated with her Masters of Health Administration from the University of Ottawa.

Amanda and her spouse Deven were the first Mi’gmaq couple to compete in the Amazing Race Canada season 9. They made the semi-finals and finished the season in fourth place.

Samara Lewis

Health Planning Specialist

First Nations Health Managers Association

Samara Lewis

Health Planning Specialist

First Nations Health Managers Association

Samara is an Anishinaabe kwe from Wiikwemkoong First Nation. She is a mother, a wife, and a daughter. Samara has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years and has leadership experience at the community, provincial, and federal levels. As a Certified Holistic Nurse Coach, she holds both professional and personal experience navigating the complexities and challenges of authentic self-care. She has partnered with many individuals to guide them in identifying, planning, and intentionally participating in their own self-care plans, in realistic and meaningful ways.

Tina Linklater

Regional Mental Wellness Coordinator

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Tina Linklater

Regional Mental Wellness Coordinator

Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Tina Linklater is the Regional Wellness Coordinator at Thunderbird Partnership Foundation and is Cree of the O-pipon-na-piwin Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. She has a background in community social development and community wellness, Tina has spent 23 years in the field of community wellness with First Nations & Tribal Health and Wellness teams. As the regional coordinator for Manitoba, she is working with Thunderbird and First Peoples Wellness to establish regional representation to strengthen mental wellness capacity; assess regional mental wellness needs and maintain relationships with stakeholders within the region.

Shelly Livingston

Health Manager

Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg and Accreditation Canada Surveyor

Shelly Livingston

Health Manager

Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg and Accreditation Canada Surveyor

Shelly Livingston is an Anishnaabe-kwe from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg on the shores of Lake Superior. She graduated with a diploma in Nursing from Confederation College in 2000. With fifteen-plus years of experience working in Indigenous communities, she is passionate about strengthening Indigenous Health Systems and Ways of Being. She is currently the Manager of Health at Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg and has been a surveyor for Accreditation Canada since 2015.

Donna Lyons

Data Capacity Development Manager

First Nations Information Governance Centre

Donna Lyons

Data Capacity Development Manager

First Nations Information Governance Centre

Donna was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and is a member of the Animakee Wauzhing First Nation in the Treaty 3 area.

Donna Lyons is the Data Capacity Development Manager for the First Nation Data Governance Strategy team at FNIGC. She is responsible for national engagement related to the implementation of the strategy. Donna started her career working in economic and business development with the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) and Aboriginal Business Canada (ABC) and has since worked in Indigenous health in senior level positions for the past 20 years. Prior to her current role, Donna worked at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa for 8 years. Three of these years included working with the Champlain LHIN as an Indigenous Engagement Specialist and the remaining five as the Director of Quality Assurance, Training and Education. In the latter role, Donna worked with the organization on quality assurance initiatives, managed the culture and communications departments, and regularly developed proposals and secured funding for programs and services. She secured ongoing funding for and developed the Indigenous Cultural Safety training program to provide training for health professionals across the Champlain region. Her role included engaging regularly with health institutions to address Indigenous-specific racism and promote the training. Donna also assisted with the development of the Share Your Story research project focused on highlighting racism that Indigenous people face across the Champlain region while accessing health care (www.wabano.com/sys).
Many of her roles included engagement, training and facilitation, recruitment, research, policy analysis and development, management, development, communications, and coordination of various initiatives. One of these initiatives included the development of the strategic direction #5 of the Changing directions, changing lives: The mental health strategy for Canada (2012). Donna also assisted with the engagement for the development of the Guidelines for Recovery Oriented Practice: Hope. Dignity. Inclusion. (2015), with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

Valentina McKay

Associate Health Director

Misipawistik Cree Nation

Valentina McKay

Associate Health Director

Misipawistik Cree Nation

Valentina McKay’s home community is Misipawistik Cree Nation.

Valentina always wanted to study Psychology, even from the age of eight years old. Fresh out of high school Valentina went on to attend Booth University College, where Valentina obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology.

During Valentina’s time in University, Valentina began to discover their Indigenous identity through various friendships, internships, and school involvement. Valentina returned home to Misipawistik in 2020 the same year and graduated with a BA. Valentina went on to work with our Health Authority as a Research Associate and Coordinator of MCN’s Prenatal Doula Program. Valentina is currently transitioning from a role as Research Associate in the Associate Health Director Position.

Valentina stands firm in the belief that the disruption of colonization has been truly traumatic, and those traumas live within us. However, as much as that may be true, Valentina believes our ancestors love, and teachings also live within us. Valentina is honored to hold these positions and serve fellow relations.

David McLaren

CFNHM, President, FNHMA Board of Directors, and Health Director

Kebaowek First Nation

David McLaren

CFNHM, President, FNHMA Board of Directors, and Health Director

Kebaowek First Nation

David has been working in Kebaowek First Nation since 1987 where he spent the first 8 years of his career dedicated to the community’s safety and justice as a police officer. Prior to this, David spent 3 years as an Economic Development Agent for the Algonquin Tribal Council of Western Québec, and 3 years as an Admissions Agent for the Québec Ministry of Manpower and Revenue Security.

David obtained his DEP in Pulp & Paper and worked in this complex industry for 5 years as Safety Supervisor within the Human Resources Department and was responsible for the Health & Safety of over 1,000 employees at the Temiscaming Tembec site.  In 2002, David returned to the community as the new Health Director and led his team to become the first community in Canada to operate under the new Flexible Funding Agreement model. With his college diploma in Human Sciences and Police Technics as a foundation and numerous years of experience and training in H.R. management, David was able to attain his professional designation as a Certified First Nations Health Manager from the First Nations Health Managers Association. In support of an effective governance, David recently received his Certified Indigenous Leadership (CIL) designation from AFAO.

During the last 12 years, David was elected by his peers to sit as Vice-President of Health of the First Nation of Québec and Labrador Health & Social Services Commission. In 2018, David was appointed by the Québec Minister of Health to sit as a board member of the Centre Intégré de Santé et des Services Sociaux de L’Abitibi-Temiscamingue, a regional health authority where he is now the vice-president of their board.

David has spent 2 mandates as a duly elected member of Council for his community of Kebaowek First Nations and is currently mandated by his Chief & Council to represent their community for their Onimiki Renewable Energy LLC for their run-of-the-river hydro project.

David is a recipient of the FNHMA Leadership Award, in recognition of outstanding contribution to the development of the First Nations Health Managers Association by being a participant of the First Nations Health Managers Advisory Committee which was co-chaired by Health Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. He is currently the President of FNHMA.

Michelle Monkman

MN, BN, RN, Program Lead

SE Health First Nations, Inuit and Métis Program

Michelle Monkman

MN, BN, RN, Program Lead

SE Health First Nations, Inuit and Métis Program

Michelle is a First Nations Registered Nurse from Kinosao Sipi Cree Nation and currently resides in Western Manitoba. She graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2004 and has spent her entire career working with Indigenous peoples in a variety of areas including home care, public and community health, long-term care and in education. Michelle is passionate about health equity, cultural safety, and Indigenous health. To improve her ability to make positive change in these areas of passion, Michelle enrolled in Athabasca University’s Master of Nursing Program in 2018. Michelle graduated from the program in 2022 and was the recipient of Athabasca University’s Governor General Gold Medal Award. If you were to ask Michelle what her biggest accomplishments are, she will tell you that it is her family. Outside of work, Michelle loves to spend time with her partner, 4 children, and grandchild and enjoys being outdoors and staying active.

Dawn Montour

Manager of Outpatient Care / Public Health, Tsi Tehshakotitsèn:tha'

Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre

Dawn Montour

Manager of Outpatient Care / Public Health, Tsi Tehshakotitsèn:tha'

Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre

Dawn is a proud Kanien’kéha:ka Nurse working in her community, the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre. As a nurse, she has carried out many functions doing in-patient care, homecare, community health, diabetes education, and out-patient care. She also volunteered for 24 years with the Kahnawake fire brigade and ambulance service as a paramedic and an instructor. Dawn has been participating in cultural safety initiatives at McGill University with medical and nursing students.

Dawn is also a proud mother of 3 boys and 10 grandchildren, and enjoys camping with family and friends.

Lisa Neault

Financial Operations and Grants Director

We Matter

Lisa Neault

Financial Operations and Grants Director

We Matter

Lisa (she/her) is Metis and was born and raised in Treaty 1 Territory. Lisa was heavily involved in the special event and music industry for the first half of her career. Lisa moved to Mi’kmaki in 2011 where she was offered employment in the financial industry. Over the next decade Lisa worked at various financial institutions gaining knowledge and experience in Business and Financial Management. Lisa holds certificates in Indigenous Asset Based Community Development, Wholistic Healing Practices, Non-Profit Fundraising and Business Management. As the Director of Financial Operations and Granting Lisa enjoys growing partnerships and providing opportunities and support to Indigenous youth, within her community and across Turtle Island. Lisa’s free time is spent out on the land, volunteering with special events, doing yoga and quillwork.

Maxine Peltier

Program Manager, Special Projects,

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Maxine Peltier

Program Manager, Special Projects,

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Shpigaabwikwe N’dizhnikaaz, Maiingun N’dodem, Wiikwemkoong N’doonjibaa, Anishinaabekwe N’dow

Maxine is of the Three Fires and grew up in her home territory of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and later became a wife, Mother, and Grandmother. Maxine is a Traditional Dancer and enjoys leather work (mitts, moccasins, and hats) and beadwork. Maxine’s education includes a Social Service Worker Degree from Seneca College, a 4-year Honours Degree in Sociology from Laurentian University, a Bachelor of Education Degree from Queen’s University and most recently a Master of Social Work Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University (in partnership with Kenjgewin -Teg).

Maxine’s professional experience has been in the field of Indigenous Mental Health for many years in different capacities in her home territory of Wiikwemkoong, in North Bay and with Nipissing First Nation. She began her career at Nadmadwin Clinic as a Mental Health Clinician and eventually became the Clinic Manager providing clinical and community based mental health services. In 2007, a family decision meant moving to North Bay, where She began working at the Ontario Hospital which then became part of the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) in the Regional Aboriginal Mental Health Program, initially as an Outreach Worker and then as a Program Manager. Maxine’s roles at the NBRHC involved supporting and providing Culturally Safe Support to Indigenous people at the hospital, as well as making connections to Indigenous communities across the Northeast Region. Maxine transferred into the Policy Department as the hospital worked toward reviewing, revising, and integrating their policies once amalgamation of the North Bay hospitals began. In 2013, Maxine began work in Nipissing First Nation as a Child and Youth Mental Health Counsellor with Giyak-Moseng – The Right Path Counselling and Prevention Services, a small dedicated, knowledgeable, very skilled and committed multi-disciplinary team. Her role was to provide direct mental health services as well as the inclusion of support and education to not only the children and youth, but also to their families. In 2022, Maxine returned to her home community and accepted employment with the Wikwemikong Board of Education as the Program Manager for the Mino Bimaadiziwin Project. Her role was to create a School Mental Health and Student Success Program for the Board. The Program is now fully functional and is very busy delivering programming year-round within the community. It is a beautiful program that includes Culture as a Foundation for Wellness, Mental Health Programming and Brief Intervention as well as Instrumental Support when required.

Most recently, Maxine joined the First Peoples Wellness Circle team as the Program Manager for Special Projects. This newest employment opportunity provides an opportunity to renew past work relationships and to create new ones and it provides the occasion to apply her skills and knowledge on a larger scale. Maxine is excited for this new challenge and appreciates the opportunity to expand her efforts toward Indigenous Wellness on a National Level.

Brenda Restoule

Chief Executive Officer

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Brenda Restoule

Chief Executive Officer

First Peoples Wellness Circle

Dr. Brenda M Restoule (Waub Zhe Kwens) is from Dokis First Nation (Ojibwa) and from the Eagle Clan. She is a registered clinical psychologist. Dr. Restoule is the Chief Executive Officer of the First Peoples Wellness Circle which is an Indigenous led national organization dedicated to raising the profile of Indigenous mental wellness using Indigenous knowledge and evidence. Primary work of FPWC is implementation of the First Nation Mental Wellness Continuum Framework to which she is a co-chair of the Implementation Team and developing a network of supports for Mental Wellness Teams across the country. Her work spans from providing clinical and consulting services to First Nations communities in Anishinabek territory to consultation with provincial and federal governments on Indigenous mental wellness to an invited trainer and speaker to authoring book chapters and training manuals. Some of Dr. Restoule’s past work experience includes the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and working with federally incarcerated Indigenous women, children’s mental health and, urban and First Nation mental wellness programs. She has particular interest in cultural safety, First Nation community development and capacity building, and reducing suicide rates in First Nation communities using First Nation knowledge and practices.

Oliveen Sanderson

Supervisor, IRS Program

Lac La Ronge Indian Band Health Services

Oliveen Sanderson

Supervisor, IRS Program

Lac La Ronge Indian Band Health Services

Oliveen Sanderson is from La Ronge SK. Oliveen worked under the IRS program for 5 years and recently became the supervisor of the program in January. Oliveen’s values and belief system are based on traditional ways of knowing.

Oliveen enjoys being on the land because this is how Oliveen finds holistic healing roots. Oliveen has extensive knowledge in the woodland Cree culture and is very passionate about teaching the younger generation traditional ways of knowing and healing.

Oliveen believes that the lens of our ancestors is very important because our traditional ways of knowing and relearning our Cree language is key to healing our spirits.

Oliveen’s favorite pass time is being on the land, making moose hides, fishing, hunting and relearning ceremonies and songs. “When I’m in this environment my spirit is awake and it makes me feel good.”

Diane Simon

Community Engagement Research Assistant, University of Calgary, Health Policy Analyst,

Association of Ontario Midwives and member of the Fort Folly First Nation

Diane Simon

Community Engagement Research Assistant, University of Calgary, Health Policy Analyst,

Association of Ontario Midwives and member of the Fort Folly First Nation

Diane Simon is a Mi’kmaw midwife and registered member of the Fort Folly First Nation. Her paternal bloodline is Gitxsan where her great-grandmother was also a midwife. She holds a BHSc (Midwifery) from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) and has a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a collaborative specialization in health policy from the University of Toronto. She is in the process of exploring PhD opportunities for next fall.

Being a social justice advocate and activist, some of her achievements include the creation of a student-led food back at York University, a reading program for incarcerated women in Nova Scotia, as well as has been an active member of many boards and committees that include Planned Parenthood, national environmental organizations as well as local housing and neighborhood associations.

She is currently a community-based researcher with the University of Calgary and a policy analyst with the Association of Ontario Midwives with focus on First Nations research, data sovereignty and data governance. She is a mother to 3 boys, a jingle dress dancer, runs marathons and currently lives in Toronto.

Melissa Spence

Project Manager - Health Directors Association

Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc.

Melissa Spence

Project Manager - Health Directors Association

Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc.

Melissa Spence is a First Nations Registered Nurse from Poplar River First Nation, Manitoba. She is a Health Transformation Project Manager at the Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO). In her current role, she is responsible for spearheading the creation of the Manitoba Southern First Nation Health Director Association and the formulation of a Public Health and Primary Health Care Strategy.

Spanning over 25 years of her career, Melissa has undertaken diverse roles, including rural community health nursing, Home and Community Care Manager, and Program Coordinator for the development of an Urban Crisis Response Program catering to high-risk families. She has also served as a Program Manager for the SE First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Program, FNIHB Regional Immunization Coordinator and served as Chief of Staff in the Integrated Vaccine Operations Centre, with the responsibility of planning and executing mass vaccination clinics against COVID-19 in all Manitoba First Nations.

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and possesses a master’s Certificate in Project Management, along with extensive experience in managing numerous national and regional projects.

Selena Willier-Schmidt

Education Specialist

First Nations Health Managers Association

Selena Willier-Schmidt

Education Specialist

First Nations Health Managers Association

Selena Willier Schmidt has proudly dedicated over two decades to the field of First Nations health. Growing up in the landscapes of northern Alberta, she has woven her roots into St. Albert, Alberta, where she and her husband are raising their three sons.

Her career has been a rich tapestry, involving roles within local and regional First Nation organizations and with the federal government’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB). These experiences have immersed her in a diverse array of health-related projects. With a formal background in mental health, she has nurtured a deep interest in enhancing mental health programming and services specifically for First Nation communities.

Presently, Selena is on her journey towards completing her Master of Arts in Leadership, a pursuit that echoes her commitment to ongoing development. As the Education Specialist at the First Nations Health Managers Association, she takes great pride in the privilege of facilitating learning experiences for community health workers across Canada.