The staff at CAAN is a beautifully diverse team of individuals from around the globe and many different nations, with each of us calling this land our home.
We bring our gifts and experience together to move our mission and vision forward in a spirit of wholeness and healing that promotes holistic healing for the unique and diverse Indigenous people of this land.
Elder in Residence
Albert McLeod is a Status Indian with ancestry from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Metis community of Norway House in northern Manitoba. He has over thirty years of experience as a human rights activist and is one of the directors of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba.
Albert began his Two-Spirit advocacy in Winnipeg in 1986 and became an HIV/AIDS activist in 1987. He was the director of the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force from 1991 to 2001. In 2018, Albert received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Winnipeg.
Albert lives in Winnipeg, where he works as a consultant specializing in Indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation, and cross-cultural training.
Elder In Residence
Elder Betty McKenna is Anishinaabe, born in Opaswayuk (The Pas), Manitoba. Her family reserve is Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (Treaty no. 4). She follows the traditions of her people, speaks her traditional language, conducts numerous ceremonies, and gathers medicines. Elder Betty is an author of several peer reviewed publications and editor of the book “Listening to The Beat of Our Drum”. Betty is very passionate about Indigenous health, education and returning people to their traditional practices and languages. Elder Betty is currently involved with many research projects and is a lecturer at the First Nations University of Canada and Luther College in Regina. Betty is also an Elder in Virtual Residence to the Canadian Virtual Hospice. She is also currently the first Resident Elder for the Mackenzie Art Gallery and recently became a Resident Elder for CAAN. Elder Betty currently also serves as the guiding Elder to RESOLVE Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse, Institute of Indigenous People’s Health-Canadian Institutes of Health Research (IIPH), guiding Elder to IGNITE Adult Learning Corporation and she is an Elder in Regina Public Schools. Her previous roles include serving the College of Physicians and Surgeons Saskatchewan, serving as a Saskatchewan Police Commissioner, and she also served on the Elders National Advisory of Corrections Canada. She is widely recognized for her work and has received numerous awards over the years, these include: the Queens Gold Medal and the Queens Silver Medal, the Excellence in Health Award, the Wakamow Valley Award of Distinction for Conservation of Prairie Plants, as well as the Sovereigns Award for Volunteers. She is also on the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan’s Prayer Breakfast committee.
Indigenous Women’s Research Coordinator
Carrie Martin is a Mi’gmaq woman from Listuguj, who has spent the past 20 years working in the field of Indigenous women’s health, with a particular focus on HIV. Carrie’s leadership is well established; she was the Harm Reduction Coordinator at the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal for 12 years (until March 2018), and a tireless advocate for Indigenous women living with HIV. She was also a civil society member of the Government of Canada’s Delegation (CANDEL) at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (HLM) and is an active member of the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network’s Community Advisory Committee for a number of years. In 2012 she became a founding member of the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiohtià:ke and was the first President of their Board of Directors. In March 2018, she transitioned to the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network as the Indigenous Women’s Research Coordinator. She has also started her PhD at Concordia University to formalize her role as an Indigenous academic researcher.
Carrielynn is Métis living in Edmonton, Alberta. She joined CAAN eight years ago as a research project coordinator and is currently coordinating the DRUM & SASH project. She has done extensive work in the area of heath research, particularly with Aboriginal youth and resilience and research ethics. Her extensive committee work includes service on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (Treasurer), the Canadian Institute of Health Research Ethics Standing Committee and the Health Canada/Public Health Agency of Canada Research Ethics Board. Carrielynn contributes substantially to the CIHR review and process development and is highly skilled working within Network environments. Using her lived experience with Hep C, she works with researchers, organizations and governments to promote the inclusion of people living with Hep C in meaningful ways.
Harm Reduction Research Coordinator
Caterina Tess is of Italian and English/Irish descent and has lived on the territories covered by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum. Raised in a household that was a meeting places of cultures and worlds— of deaf/hearing, immigrant/settler, ability/dis-ability— she has spent her personal and academic life exploring how cross-cultural relationships can be tended to in supporting visions of change. She comes to CAAN with an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto in Equity studies, and her Master of Environmental Studies at York University. While at York, she supported Indigenous and non-Indigenous community-based research projects concerned with strengths-based approaches to young people’s health and well-being. Her major research project investigated the impacts of a short film generated by young people who trade sex, where dozens of community education events were held across Toronto. These events sought to challenge stigma and share harm reduction strategies for people who trade and the services providers who support them. Caterina has come to understand harm reduction as heart work— where conditions are created to better support personal and communal well-being— and is honored to leverage her coordination, writing, and research skills in support of this vision with the team at CAAN. She feels most at home when she is spending time among the trees, creating collages, and embroidery pieces. You will likely find her in the kitchen— channeling her Nonna, experimenting with pasta shapes while attempting to practice her Italian language exercises.
Elder In Residence
Elder Jimmy Quatell resides in Campbell River BC. At ten Jimmy was taken and put into St Michels Residential School for four years. Jimmy is an Elder now in the community, doing a lot of welcoming in many areas of things that go on. Jimmy does culture support in many villages dealing with the Trauma using our Medicine, mostly our Cedar. He brushes off from their Spirit. Jimmy was invited to be an Elder in Residence for CAAN.
Mobilizing Indigenous STBBI Research Coordinator
Jessica Demeria an Indigenous community-based researcher who walks in both worlds with proud Metis and Ukrainian heritage originally from Treaty 6 territory, the traditional land of diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Dene and Saulteaux, and the homeland of the Métis Nation ( U of S, B.A.) She currently resides in Tkaronto where she calls home. Since 2008 she has worked nationally (NAHO, AFN, CPHA), provincially (OHTN), and locally (MAP, Li Ka Shing) towards reducing health inequities within Indigenous communities . She has extensive experience in research, policy and supporting community self determination. She works through a decolonizing and intersectoral lens focused on reducing the impacts of HIV/STBBIs and associated factors through community partnerships with an emphasis on strength based and upstream approaches to holistic wellness, harm reduction, housing and reducing barriers to wellness
Jordy Ironstar (He/Him)
Community Readiness Coordinator
Jordy is a Two Spirit Nakoda Oyadé from Carry the Kettle First Nation, raised in ᑳᒥᓵᐢᑲᐧᑑᒥᓈᐦᑕᑳᕁ Saskatoon, SK [Treaty 6 – territories of the Oc̀eṫi S̀ak̄owiƞ (Dakota, Lakota, Nakoda), Anihšināpē (Saulteaux), Néhiyawak (Cree), and Métis people]. Jordy is the Two Spirit Ambassador for Fiérte Canada Pride, Lead of the Two Spirit Working Group (Reconciliation Saskatoon) and serves several boards in Saskatchewan. Jordy has a passion for working with his 2SLGBTQQIA and Indigenous kin to address issues that these communities face.
Jordy has an educational background in Business Administration, with 6 years of experience in the finance field. Jordy is happy to join the team at CAAN to fulfill his desire for community-based work through Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. Jordy is hoping to be of services for IPHA/IPHCs and other members which CAAN has built a relationship with throughout Turtle Island.
Research Assistant (Weaving Our Wisdoms (WoW) Study & Leading the Way Project)
I was born and raised on the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation (Ojibway) territory in rural Ontario, but came to Lekwungen territory (Victoria, BC) for post-secondary and have been glued to Vancouver Island since. I hold a Community, Family & Child Studies Diploma from Camosun College, which led to an undergraduate degree in Health and Community Services with an area of focus in Indigenous Peoples Health and then a Masters of Public Health with Indigenous Health Specialization, both from the University of Victoria. I started with CAAN in 2019 as a practicum student within the AHA Centre and continue to work as a Research Assistant on the WoW Study and the Leading the Way Project, feeling so grateful to both learn from and contribute to the incredible work of this organization.
Elder In Residence
Elder Maggie Paul is an Indigenous Passamaquoddy Elder, teacher and song carrier who has travelled around the world to share Maliseet and Passamaquoddy culture. Also a sweat lodge keeper, Maggie is known for her singing, and both performs and records traditional songs. Born in Maine USA, she has raised six children and lived most of her adult life on the Maliseet St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Maggie has been a cherished Elder with the AHA Centre since 2012.
Margaret Kisikaw Piyesis
Chief Executive Officer
CEO, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network December 2019 – present
Finance and Research Director, All Nations Hope Network Oct 1999 – present
Kind Hearted Warrior Woman – Kisewatisowin Okihcitaskwew
Cree Iskwew (woman) with the following roles and responsibilities: as a daughter to Nimama (My Mother), as a mother of two Children and a Kokum (Grandmother) to three, with direct ties to the Kisikaw Piyesis Family from George Gordon First Nation, in Saskatchewan on the land now called Canada. Descendant of both the Moose clan and the Bear Clan, living as a traditional medicine practitioner, a knowledge keeper and baby catching bundle carrier.
Waniska (Awakened) to the ways of the ancestors, practising traditional ways of knowing, healing along the way, seeking pimâtisiwin (life) for all nations through Indigenous practices, language, ceremonies, culture and traditions. Can celebrate 30 plus years working as a Co-Creator for Kisi Manito (Great Mystery) honoring the ancestors along the way.
Michael has been Volunteering with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network since 2012. He was hired in 2017 as an Administrative Assistant and then moved into the Executive Research Assistant role. Currently he is CAAN’s Financial Coordinator. He is a father of 3, from Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. He enjoys being outdoors, traveling, learning about different cultures, and other ways of life.
Global Research Manager
Patricia Mahecha is a Physician, Epidemiologist, Health Administrator, and Public Health professional. She has developed and managed various community health programs and projects for over 20 years. She has worked for governmental organizations in Colombia and international not-for-profit organizations in Canada. As part of her professional career, Patricia has also worked on HIV and STBBI programming and research focusing on promoting health and well-being for marginalized communities, including HIV-positive and HIV-affected people. Currently, Patricia is the Global Research Manager at CAAN.
Research and Logistics Manager
Patrick is French Canadian from Ottawa Ont. He has a certificate from the Community Social Services Program offered at the Herzing Institute in Ottawa, Ont. He has worked with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network since February 2008 while a full-time student in various roles before relocating to the Policy and Research office in Dartmouth, NS in March of 2010 to become Executive Research Assistant and more recently moving into a Research Manager role. He enjoys spending time with his family, his daughter and loves LEGO.
Research Impact Leader
Renée Masching began working with CAAN in 2005 and presently is the Director of Research based in Nova Scotia. Renée is a member of Six Nations of the Grand River and Irish decent. She was adopted as an infant and grew up in a family of Eastern and Western European heritage. Professionally, Renée’s energies are passionately committed to Indigenous health and wellness. Her work in the Indigenous HIV/AIDS community began in 1995 and she is honoured to contribute with dedication and determination. Renée earned degrees in Social Work and Psychology at McMaster University, with a CIHR research award for her Master of Social Work. Renée’s research interests focus on community-based research frameworks, Indigenous knowledges, ways of knowing and doing, and community health with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS and more recently STBBI. She lives as a visitor with her husband, sons and pets by the ocean in Mi’kmaq Territory.
Well-being Project Coordinator
After finishing her honours degree from the University of Toronto majoring in Indigenous Studies and History, Sally moved to beautiful Northwestern Ontario to pursue a post-graduate program in Indigenous Governance and Public Administration. With a passion for advocacy, Sally has worked with several Indigenous organizations within Thunder Bay including Nokiiwin Tribal Council, the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/ AIDS Strategy (OAHAS) as well as the Ontario Native Women’s Association where she’s currently working in research. Her latest achievement has been joining the CAAN fam as the Well-Being project coordinator where the team has been exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected gender-based violence among Indigenous women living with HIV &/or Hep C.
Sharon began her career with CAAN in January of 2021. She grew up on a grain farm near Weekes, Saskatchewan and moved to Regina to attend the University of Regina where she earned a Bachelor of Administration degree. A few years later she completed her CMA designation and started her own accounting practice. Before coming to CAAN Sharon has worked with many non-profit agencies as their external independent auditor or internal accountant. She enjoys spending her free time in the outdoors with her husband, two grown children and little grandchildren.
Community Based Research Manager (Capacity Building)
Sherri is of Cree ancestry from Sweetgrass First Nation, Saskatchewan and now lives in her home territory of Treaty Six in Saskatoon, SK. Her day job as a Community-based Research Manager (CBRM) for with the AHA Centre a program of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, she assists Indigenous communities in developing their research agenda and bridges capacities that are specific to HIV and AIDS. This ranges from assisting communities in developing a research agenda, connecting communities with academic researchers and assisting both community and researchers in applying for grants directly relating to aboriginal research involving HIV and AIDS. In addition to HIV research, she sits on the UBC Providence Health Care Research Ethics Board and was formerly the first Co-Chair for Island Health’s Human Research Ethics Board.
Indigenous Leadership Policy Manager
Trevor Stratton is a 55-year old, two-spirit citizen of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation near Toronto, Canada with mixed English and Ojibwe heritage. Diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he is the Coordinator for the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA) for its host organization, the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN). Trevor is the President of the Board of 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations in Toronto and also a Board member of the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE). He is also the Interim CEO of the International Indigenous HIV & AIDS Community (IIHAC).
Substance Use & Addictions Program Coordinator
Hannah comes from the Kitchener-Waterloo area of southern Ontario. She has a degree in Public Relations and is always happy to connect. She is a mom, a wife, oldest sister and daughter. Eastern European heritage. She is deaf and proud of it.