CAAN’s Board of Directors come from all across this land, each bringing our unique combination of lived experience, wisdom, traditions, and passions to our work.
Please take some time to get to know our amazing board members below:
I currently sit on the Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network.
My spirit names are Lightning Rock Woman and Calls Far Woman. I am from Zagime Anishinabec formerly known as Sakimay First Nation. It is in TREATY 4. My dad is Saulteaux and my mother is Cree from Whitebear F.N. I am proud mother of two, 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. I have 4 siblings.
I was diagnosed in March 2005 with HIV. The following year I was hired by Aids Programs South Saskatchewan to be trained as the Needle Exchange Co-ordinator and then Support Person until the end of 2012.
After 2012 I moved to Saskatoon for awhile. I dealt with my addiction issues, when to my fourth and final rehab in 2014. It there I did a lot of work on myself. I returned home to Regina and also was reunited with my son. I was re-hired by APSS to continue to do the Anyone @ Risk Support Group. This group is geared towards anyone living with HIV/Hep.C and addiction issues from 2014-present. I also became a Peer Mentor with the Sask. Health Authority. a participant (Willow Warrior) of the Kotawe Research at All Nations Hope. Last year I was hired as a Wellness Warriour at the Wellness Wheel Medical Clinic & Indigenous Community Research Network. I have done numerous speaking engagements locally and nationally. I have presented at national conferences ex. CATIE,s educational webinar, Preventing the Sexual Transmission of HIV. Local presentations on Harm Reduction with Ranch Erlo. I was part of CATIE/CAAN documentary, Strong Medicine. Locally I am in the documentary Sask Union of Nurses/Making The Difference/On the Frontline of the HIV crisis. I have sat on the Canadian Aids Society Board of Directors, previous CAAN board of director’s, International Community of Women Living with HIV/Aids (ICW-NA), CAAN GIPA Homefire Research Team, Voices of Women, Building More Bridges Research Team, Community Advisory Board(CAB), Stigma Index Research, Recipient of the Sheldon Bowman Memorial Award 2019 and CAAN Legacy Lifetime Award 2019. Most recently taken on the role of Wellness Warrior in the WW Opioid Stewardship Program where I go and support patients in hospitals.
I do this work from my heart and for my people living with HIV.
Thankyou & HIY HIY
Denise Cole (she/her/they/them) is a Two Spirit of mixed Inuit descent from Labrador who coordinates the SHIELD Project at the Labrador Friendship Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. SHIELD is a youth sexual health project that uses art, culture, and technology activities to create safe spaces for young people in Labrador. Denise has twenty years of nonprofit experience including sitting on various boards and advisories such as AIDS Committee NL, Safe Alliance Labrador, Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, Labrador Grenfell Regional Sexual Health & Harm Reduction Committee, Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, and NL Provincial Harm Reduction Collective. Denise is a land protector who walks the Red Road of recovery. Being gifted the spirit name Spotted Elk; they also carry ceremony and medicines to help themselves and others on the journey. Denise feels a sense of responsibility and purpose to their culture, community, and the next generations. Humbled to be a part of the CAAN Board representing Labrador, Denise comes with an open heart to learn and contribute to this important work.
Chairperson, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network
Canadian Leader, International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS
Denise resides in Treaty 6 territory and maintains a distinctive relational network. She is a mother to five children, grandmother to three+ grandchildren, with a large extended family in Treaty 4, Treaty 8, and multiple Métis locales. As a woman of fluid identities, Denise is currently engaged in the Indigenous Studies PhD program at the University of Alberta focused on the brilliance and resurgence of Indigenous knowledge. She is an Indigenous land-based practitioner and designs program, policy, and evaluation frameworks from this standpoint.
Denise brings over 35 years experience to improving Indigenous Health in Canada. Current projects include the Northern Indigenous Health Alliance (Alberta) promoting “Know Your Status” and appropriate linkages to care and support; the Helping Relations Project – a mobile COVID-19 emergency support program; and In Good Health – virtual addictions, mental, and sexual health project.
Native Community Worker (T.A.H.M.)
Comes from a Métis background of Blackfeet Nation / Black Canadian, His life journey has led him to embrace his Aboriginal Spirituality. Donald identifies himself as a Métis 2-spirited person. Being a long-term of 25 plus years he has realized sharing some of his life’s journey may help others and so often. Donald has been trained as a Medicine Wheel facilitator as well as in other healing modalities. He is a member of the National Aboriginal Council Hepatitis C Council (CAAN) he presently sits on the Board of Directors with CAAN and is the CAAN Ontario Indigenous People Living with HIV/AIDS Representative and is formally a Regional Facilitator of the Aids Bereavement Resiliency Project of Ontario, and Lead facilitator for Medicine Wheel Spirit Shadow Dance. Donald has been positive for over 25 years. Donald feels very strongly that his Aboriginal teachings and spirituality along with Western medicine is the right combination for him to have a balance and harmony. Donald spends his time giving talks and running emotional healing workshops with the teachings of the Medicine Wheel and Sacred Tree around Canada. The Wholistic Healing Map tool was constructed by Donald Turner, by drawing on the wisdom and experiences of years of living with HIV and HEP C. Donald saw Gabe K’s Talking Turtle in the mid 90’s at a Healing Our Spirit conference. When Donald became a Medicine Wheel Facilitator, those teachings served as the basis for our teachings. Utilizing a Traditional tool to assist people in viewing their situation holistically. This multi-dimensional viewing allows people a chance to discuss deep truths about their thoughts, feelings, actions, spirituality.
Gayle Pruden was born in Ashern, Manitoba on May 1, 1964. When she was a little girl she lived with her grandparents in Little, Saskatchewan. She loved her grandparents, and she has fond memories of them.
Gayle speaks Objibwe (Anishinobemowin) fluently and she is proud to speak her language. She believes creator gave her a beautiful gift, her Ojibwe language. She says, “It’s a powerful tool to have your language, speak it as often as you can”.
Gayle was raised in a good living home. She remembers going out on the land with her grandfather. Her grandfather would pick medicines and sing songs. Gayle lived a traditional culture. She remembers her grandmother smudging her underneath the blanket and remembers the smell so well.
Gayle speaks at youth conferences as a two spirited woman. She loves to tell stories to young people to help the cope with challenges in their lives. Gayle is jingle dress dancer for about 20 years, and she loves sharing the information about the story behind her dancing.
Gayle enjoys showing her beadwork to the youth, to inspire them and bring them positive feelings. Gayle is also a knowledge keeper; she shares her knowledge that she received from the grandparents and uses her language in the theatre. Gayle is an actor in a play who uses her Objibwe language. This is awesome!
Gayle works with CAAN (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network) as the vice chairperson on the Board of Directors. She also works with Manitoba Moons, Voices of Women and Nine Circle Drumming.
Gayle speaks highly of her grandparents and the wonderful job they did raising her and teaching her to live off the land. She has so much love for her grandparents. They have influenced her to be strong independent person and to be proud of who she is. Gayle is proud to be two spirited Anishobe women and she loves helping the youth. She had adopted her daughter and helped raise her three grand children.
I am a proud member of the Ochapowace First Nations located in Treaty 4, southern Saskatchewan. I have proudly served Canadians in the name of public safety, and I recently retired from the Correctional Service of Canada. It is my pleasure to continue to be of service to our Indigenous peoples in the capacity of an elected board member for the Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network (CANN). It is an honour to be part of CANN’s spirit to conduct activities that reflect Indigenous wholeness and healing. Hiy, Hiy ( Thank you).
Giselle Henry ( Purple Eagle Spirit, Dancing Buffalo Woman and Sweet Thunder Bird Woman).
Keith McCrady grew up in the community of Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, and relocated to the GTA over 13 years ago and now calls Scarborough home. Keith, the proud father of four has dedicated his life to supporting the goals and dreams of Indigenous communities, particularly in Toronto. Initially, he focused on children and youth programs, and eventually expanded into Indigenous education, employment, human trafficking, physical literacy and housing. Keith McCrady’s advocacy and leadership also come with his identity as a two-spirited person. “It’s not just a sexual orientation or a gender identity,” he says. “It’s also my role in my community and a place in our circle.” As the executive director of 2 Spirited People of the 1st Nations, Keith’s goal is to walk alongside the 2SLGBTQ communities and provide education and support to members of the 2- Spirit Community and reclaim our place in the Circle.
Patti Tait is an Indigenous woman who began working in the helping field more than 35 years ago. She worked and volunteered extensively within federal and provincial prisons counselling and supporting Aboriginal men and women. Patti was a Native Liaison at Prison for Women and various men’s institutions within Ontario region. She has often been called upon as an expert on the issues faced by Indigenous offenders. Patti was a founding staff of the OHAS and served the indigenous men and women who were housed in Ontario Correctional Facilities. She was called upon as an expert on the issue of HIV among incarcerated Indigenous individuals. Patti has been a member the Canadian Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Network (CAAN) and was an original member of the Advisory Council for All Nations Hope AIDS Network. Throughout her career, Patti has been committed to Indigenous people who have come in conflict with the law and to those who are most marginalized by infectious diseases. She is currently working for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan as a Acting Executive Director and Cultural Advisor and is a board executive for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) She is a Regional Advocate for CAEFS, with a specialty grounded in the issues pertaining to culture and spirituality within federal women’s facilities. She does individual counselling and facilitates Cultural programming. She has been a board member for MACSI (Metis Addictions) and is often called upon to share her knowledge regarding Indigenous culture, traditions and trauma within the community. This includes presentations in schools, colleges and at the universities. As a kokum (grandmother), and chapan (great-grandmother), Patti is passionate about the need for Indigenous communities to heal for future generations.