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.
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.
Multimedia & Graphic Design Coordinator
Allison Whiteman is a mom, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, and a friend to many special people. She is also the youngest sister, and an aunty to many brilliant nieces and nephews. She lives at home, in the lands of her Saulteaux, Nehiyaw, Dakota, and Métis ancestors that is now known as the Treaty Four Territory where she enjoys growing gardens and turning up the music. She has been privileged to work for Indigenous Nations alongside the guidance of Knowledge Keepers at the community level for the most part of her career and acknowledges with gratitude all the old people throughout her life for all the prayers, gifts, and guidance they have shared with her. Within her western education she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (distinction) as well as a Certificate in Indigenous Governance and Politics from the University of Saskatchewan. Whiteman joined the Communications Team at CAAN in May 2021 as the Multimedia & Graphic Design Coordinator.
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.
Men’s Project Coordinator
Cole is an Aboriginal cree man from Piapot First Nation. He went to school at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies for Human Resources and University of Regina for Business Administration. Was born in Regina, and currently reside here as well. 28 years old with a family of his own. He currently has 2 sons, and a stepson with my common in-law.
Things he surrounds himself with are family and a variety of sports. He can play almost every sport, but his main ones are Hockey, Fastball, and Snowboarding. He would say he is very athletic and take into consideration of living a healthy balanced life. He believes if you take care of your body and well-being first, everything you go through your day to day will just come easier and stress free.
Community Readiness Coordinator
Dylan Richards, an Anishinaabe man of mixed decent living and working in Amiskwaciwâskahikan / ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Edmonton, AB) located on Treaty 6 territory, has been the Community Readiness Coordinator with CAAN since September 2019. He has made Indigenous health and wellness the focus of his work for over a decade and has been a part of the broader CAAN community since 2012. A community builder and storyteller at heart, Dylan’s passion is to see and support each and every community he serves as they find their own strong and good path to wholistic health. Dylan is passionate about his culture, his motorcycle, and the people he calls his chosen family. Dylan also loves cheese (though it doesn’t love him back).
Communications Coordinator & Programs Executive Administrative Assistant
Janessa began her work with CAAN in April 2018. In her three years with CAAN, she has held several different roles including IIWGHA Assistant Coordinator, AAAW Coordinator, and Project Assistant. She is a second-generation settler Canadian with Chinese, Scottish, and Ukrainian ancestry and lives on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Public Health from the University of Saskatchewan, focused on health policy and health care system management. In addition to work, Janessa volunteers in the community and is passionate about empowering the next generation of change-makers. In her (very little) spare time, she can be found hiking, snowboarding, baking and decorating cupcakes, or spending time with her friends and family.
AHA Centre Communications Assistant
Jennifer began her undergraduate studies in Communications at Concordia University in Montreal and then went on to graduate from the University of Houston with a master’s degree in Communications where the focus of her studies was on Issues, Risk, and Crisis communication. While being a full-time mother, she has worked as an independent community researcher for various organizations, including the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal. Jennifer became a member of the AHA Centre staff in 2016 as a Community-Based Research Associate (CRA) representing Québec. In September 2017, she was hired part time as the AHA Centre Communications Assistant.
Weaving Our Wisdoms Project Coordinator
Settler, British & French Ancestry.
After working with CAAN and the AHA Centre on various projects for many years Jenny Rand officially joined the CAAN team as the Weaving our Wisdoms Research Coordinator in January 2021. She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from Dalhousie and her doctoral research was nested within an Inuit community-based HIV prevention study. Building on the lessons learned throughout her master’s research Jenny’s doctoral research specifically examined the interaction of principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles. For her master’s research Jenny worked with Inuit women in a CBPR study to discover what women thought were the determinants of sexual health for themselves and their families and what they thought would work best for HIV and STI prevention and sexual health promotion within their communities. Jenny is also an instructor at the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University and Acadia University where she teaches in the fields of gender and sexuality and sexual health education.
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.
Community Based Research Manager (Knowledge Translation)
Marni Amirault is of Acadian and English/Irish descent. She lives, works and plays by the ocean in Punamu’kwati’jk, Mi’kmaq Territory (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia). Marni has her Master of Arts in cultural anthropology from the University of Alberta which focused on issues surrounding the representation of Indigenous peoples in Canadian media. She has worked with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities on community-based research projects since 2001. Moving home to Nova Scotia after her master’s introduced her to issues around sexual health and HIV and AIDS. She began her work with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) in 2009. She is currently a Community-based Research Manager (Knowledge Translation) for the AHA Centre—a project of CAAN. In this role, she supports HIV community-based research (CBR) efforts between Indigenous and academic communities across Canada.
Executive Research Assistant
Michael has been Volunteering with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network since 2012. He was hired in 2017 as an Admin Assistant. More Recently moving into the Executive Research Assistant role. He is a father of 3, from Eastern Passage, NS. He enjoys being outdoors, traveling, learning about different cultures, and other ways of life.
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.
Director of Research
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.
External Evaluation Consultant, CAAN and AHA Centre
San Patten is the External Evaluation Consultant for CAAN and the AHA Centre. She is of Chinese ancestry, born in the ancestral territory of the Tsuut’ina First Nation (Calgary, AB), and now resides in Miꞌkmaꞌki (Halifax, NS). She has been working in the fields of HIV prevention and harm reduction since 1999, and has run her own consulting company since 2005, specializing in community-based research, program evaluation, policy development and organizational development. She has worked across Canada and globally with communities most vulnerable to HIV and Hepatitis C. She is a member of the UNAIDS Expert Advisory Committee on Evaluation. She was a founding member of HaliFIX, Atlantic Canada’s first overdose prevention site, and is on the Board of Directors of the Halifax Refugee Clinic. She loves rowing in the Halifax harbour, kayaking along Nova Scotia’s rugged coastlines, and knitting with her cat on her lap.
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.
Four Directions Coordinator
Skylar Louttit is First Nation Cree, Bear clan and his family lineage is from James Bay area. He holds an Indigenous Specialization Social Service Diploma and has field experience working directly in frontlines to Indigenize harm reduction working with First Nations, Metis and Inuit community members. He has worked with 2S & LGBTQ+ youth and families providing counselling, group facilitations, case management and training to Northern organizations in Ontario. He has spoken on several panels about two spirit identity and reclaiming who he is through his own healing. Skylar has worked as a substance use worker in a First Nation reserve and provided counselling, case management and coordinating events for awareness and advocacy. He is passionate about building relationships with communities and bringing people together. From his own cultural perspective, Skylar knows he has roles and responsibilities to helping communities and to honour the history and healing each community is doing. As he shares often “Together we make the circle stronger”.
Sugandhi del Canto
Sugandhi del Canto, Policy Advisor, joined CAAN in July 2020. She is a 2nd generation immigrant whose ancestors are from Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Portugal and Ireland, and she currently lives on Treaty 6 land in Saskatoon. Sugandhi has a PhD in Community Health and Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Her connection to CAAN began in 2003 when she was an HIV Education Coordinator at the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal and invited to her first community-based research training. Since then, Sugandhi has worked at CTAC (Canadian Treatment Action Council), CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), CATIE and SHARE (Saskatchewan HIV/AIDS Research Endeavour). She currently serves on the board of the City Centre Food Cooperative, a local initiative to provide affordable fresh food to Saskatoon’s downtown and surrounding areas. Sugandhi also knits. A lot.
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).