I am from the Sechelt (Shíshálh) Nation on the Sunshine Coast of BC. I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. My dissertation research investigates health, social and justice service use among Aboriginal people who are homeless and mentally ill in both Vancouver and Winnipeg using the At Home/Chez Soi Study. I have worked in a number in a number of different areas of public health research over the past 10 years all more specifically related to Indigenous health research. I have a strong passion for Indigenous Health and Community Driven and participatory research.
Prior to beginning my PhD program at SFU I completed a BA (honours) in Psychology and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) both at Simon Fraser University. For my undergraduate thesis I completed a program evaluation of a First Nations substance abuse center on Vancouver Island and for my Masters work I conducted a study investigating trauma and HIV risk among street involved Aboriginal youth in Vancouver.
My first experiences with health research was with the McCreary Centre Society. I worked with their organization beginning in 2005 to conduct research for the Raven’s Children II report and was also serving as their Student Research Group Coordinator. In addition to the research and report writing I also gained experience through planning and facilitating focus groups with Aboriginal youth discussing research findings and themes from the report. I returned to work with The McCreary Centre Society in 2007 to conduct the research for the Aboriginal Street Involved and Marginalized Youth Report. This also involved conducting community focus groups throughout BC and facilitating knowledge translation of findings.
I worked for several years as a policy analyst with the Ministry of Health Aboriginal Healthy Living Branch. I was responsible for the HIV/AIDS and mental health and substance use files at a pivotal time in Indigenous health when the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan was being developed. During this time, I also began working with the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative at the BC Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS as their Aboriginal Health Research Coordinator. I worked with their team to conduct research on the health of Indigenous women in sex work in Vancouver which included community consultation and building research partnerships.
Following my time with the Ministry I began work with Fraser Health Authority Aboriginal Health to work as a Primary Health Care Research Coordinator. Working with their team I conducted community-based primary health care research with Fraser Region communities as part of several funded research projects which included extensive community consultations to develop a common list of primary health care research priorities.
I worked for several years as a research manager for a CIHR grant jointly led by Simon Fraser University and First Nations Health Authority which aimed to create a policy framework for joint decision making between the Regional Health Authorities and the First Nations Health Authority with the goal of improving the health of First Nations Communities in BC. This project is now in the research dissemination stage and the first manuscript was recently published in the International Journal of Health Governance.
Currently, I am working with Vancouver Coastal Health, Aboriginal Health as a research consultant. I work in various areas for this team including strategy, cultural safety training development, contracts management and developing research partnerships for Indigenous health research with local communities in the region.
I am currently serving on the board of directors for Mom2Mom Vancouver and the Combining our Strength Program at the Minerva Foundation and I have previously served on the board of IMPACT BC.
I plan to continue with a career in Indigenous health with a focus on community-based research and also continue to work with International partners to conduct collaborative research on global Indigenous health issues.