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.
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
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.
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).
Harm Reduction Coordinator
Hannah joined the CAAN team in November 2022 as the Communications Coordinator, overseeing the organization’s digital presence and social media presence. She resides as an ally in Treaty 3 territory, traditionally of the Chippewas of The Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of The Thames, Munsee-Delaware Nation, Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation, and Six Nations of The Grand (which consists of Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida and Tuscarora Nations). She has earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations with honours, reflecting her commitment to interpersonal connection and supporting her belief in collective resistance of oppression. Hannah has work experience in family and children services, marketing, trend assessment, and student rights. With an interest in creative strategic mapping, Hannah utilizes her talents for advocacy and protest in feminism, disability justice, reproductive rights, and equitable political reform circles. Hannah is a mom, wife, sister, and friend. She is liberation-minded, accountability-driven, and balances her free time with hockey, creative writing, and a good novel.
Promising Practices Coordinator
After finishing graduating with honours from York University’s Bachelors of Social Work program, Tash developed her passion for advocacy, empowerment, and holistic wellness. She started her career as a program coordinator at a grassroots organization developing culturally grounded and wellness programs, support groups, workshops, and webinars across the Greater Toronto Area. Shortly, she moved to Montreal, Quebec for her personal and professional development. On this journey, she joined CAAN’s team as the Promising Practices Coordinator where she will use indigenous feedback and evidence-based research to provide recommendations, knowledge, and resources on how to implement wise practices to Indigenous individuals and communities across Canada.
International Women’s Research Coordinator
Emily Booker is a settler of mixed European heritage. She grew up and is currently located on the shared unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (Vancouver, BC). She completed a Bachelor of Arts in 2016 and a Master of Arts in 2020, both from McGill University. Emily has worked in research addressing community-specific issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence through youth-led, arts-based and creative methods. In her spare time Emily enjoys weaving, reading, sewing and playing golf!
My name is Brandi Bilodeau, I am a Metis woman and a mother of 1. I am the Campaign Coordinator for CAAN. I have worked with Indigenous people across Canada for the past 4 years and I am very passionate about advocating for our indigenous communities, building relationships and collaborating with community partners to enhance the wellbeing and services for our people.
Indigenous Data Coordinator – I’m Ready/REACH
Angie is the Indigenous data coordinator based in southwestern Ontario. After graduating with honours from Brock University’s Community Health program, she began working in health science research. She joined CAAN in May of 2023 as the coordinator for the I’m Ready Reach project. Angie is creating and leading a process for CAAN to engage in data management with an emphasis on strengths-based analysis. In her spare time Angie is a sugar maker and beekeeper.
Community Research Associate
I am annishinnabe from sagkeeng first nation, but I reside in six nations here in southern Ontario. I am a survivor of generational trauma as a result of residential schools, I am a 25 yr. thriver living with HIV, I am proud to be positive. My name is She who walks with angels, but my English name is Karrie Worster.
Indigenous Leadership Practitioner
Community Readiness Coordinator
I’m a Black Muslim woman with a passion for breaking the stigma around mental health, addiction, HIV, and sexual heath. I’m on a mission to make these topics less taboo. With a background in Child & Youth Care, sociology, and psychology, I love getting people involved and coming up with creative ideas! Through non-profit work particularly in the HIV field, I have created educational content on different platforms like slide decks, websites, podcasts, and videos. I’m a realistic optimist, always pushing myself to reach new goals and spread positivity. I love to go on long walks (I can walk for hours). I can’t wait to bring my energy and experiences to the team!
Indigenous Research Project Coordinator: I’m Indigenous, I’m Ready Project
Sianna Bulman is a Queer, Gender-Non-Conforming member of the Metis Nation of Alberta. She resides in Treaty 6 territory. Sianna is the Indigenous Research Project Coordinator for the I’m Indigenous, I’m Ready Project. They hold a Bachelor of Arts from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Social and Cultural Studies, with their research focused on experiences of racism in Canada. Further learned interests include socio-political analysis, environmentalism, the subject of death and dying, and baking and pastry. They have contributed their artistic perspective to various community advocacy initiatives ranging from climate actions to music festivals. Between championing social causes, Sianna enjoys a good hike with her dog, taking a course on a topic of interest, or making a good homemade pastry.
Senior Policy Analyst
Dr. Earl Nowgesic
Dr. Earl Nowgesic is Anishinaabe and a member of Gull Bay First Nation / Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA). He is the son of the late Frederick Nowgesic of KZA and the late Deana Nowgesic (née MacLaurin) of Fort William First Nation who attended St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s Indian Residential Schools, respectively, in Ontario. Dr. Nowgesic has over 25 years of experience working with various organizations including the Assembly of First Nations, the National Aboriginal Health Organization, the Chiefs of Ontario, the Senate of Canada, Health Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with a cross-appointment to the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Dr. Nowgesic holds a PhD in Public Health Science from the University of Toronto.
Visioning Administrative Assistant
Kris Kelly is a mom, auntie, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and poet. Deeply connected to the water, woods, and wind, she practices allyship for diverse communities across the world. Kris was raised in Northern Ontario, home of the Nipissing First Nation and Robinson-Huron Treaty. A journeyer, spiritual artist, and votary of the grounding power of nature, Kris is inspired by Indigenous ecological and ceremonial knowledge, and cultural and land-based teachings to propel both academic and personal growth. She is a culturally sensitive service provision and development expert, leading CAAN’s research department in a person-centered way as Research Manager since February 2023. Applying the principles of co-creation and reciprocity with living and non-living things, Kris seeks to curate spaces of safety for storytelling to act as a powerful conveyer of change. A mental health clinician, policy advisor, and researcher, Kris has spent 10 years working for non-profit organizations, children’s mental health clinics, and hospitals. With CAAN, she seeks to expand the research portfolio, highlighting Indigenous strength and interrupting systemic harm cycles, prioritizing liberation and access. When Kris is not working, she can be found in nature, adventuring with her daughter and family, creating art, and cooking!