IWRG Team Biographies

Alanah Levandosky, research associate, joined pewaseskwan Indigenous Wellness Research Group (pewaseskwan) in July 2020. She joins the team from unceded Coast Salish territory in Langley, B.C. Alanah is of both Indigenous and settler descent, including French, Polish, Metis and Ojibwe heritage. She grew up in southwestern Manitoba on Treaty 1 and Treaty 2 Territories. Alanah has finished up her Master’s in Public Health at Simon Fraser University and graduated in June 2021. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English with honours at the University of Winnipeg in 2019.

Ashley Secundiak, clerical assistant, is a member of pewaseskwan at the USask in Saskatoon, led by Prof. Malcolm King and Dr. Alexandra King. She joined the team in July 2020. Ashley has a strong interest in patient-focused research and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Pharmacology from USask.

Bonny Braden, research assistant, joined the pewaseskwan team in April 2021. Bonny was born on Treaty 6 Territory and is currently living in Saskatoon, which comes after years of moving across the land and mainly living in the bush of central Alberta and British Columbia. She has a settler background with Irish and English roots as well as roots unknown. Her educational background includes two years of political science at the University of Calgary, equine science at Olds College and journalism at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Bonny also taught at the University of Regina’s School of Journalism as a sessional instructor. She is currently working on certification to write Gladue reports at Vancouver Community College.

Brennan (Bren) Thompson, executive assistant, was born and raised on a wild boar farm near Maryfield, a village in southeast Saskatchewan, on Treaty 2 Territory. Bren worked with the Sunrise Health Region in Yorkton as a member of the human resources team, beginning in 2009 on a temporary contract and then securing a permanent position, as well as a management position at a mechanical company in 2017. Bren moved to Saskatoon in May 2019 to join pewaseskwan.

Chad Hammond, project coordinator, joined pewaseskan as the Sask Stories Project Coordinator in September 2020. He oversees the development of the Sask Stories online database about HIV and hepatitis C programs, projects and initiatives in Saskatchewan and six learning modules to accompany it. He has a PhD in Psychology (USask) and over 15 years of experience of research and project implementation. Much of his work has been with Indigenous health, including programs with communities and organizations in British Columbia and Ontario and diverse urban First Nations in Kenora and Ottawa, ON. Prior to the IWRG, Chad was a program facilitator with the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR). He has also been a sessional lecturer in the Department of Psychology at USask’s St. Thomas More College. Chad grew up on a farm and then in Shaunavon, a small town in Treaty 4 Territory/southwestern Saskatchewan.

Claudia Madampage, MPH, PhD, project officer, is originally from Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada many years ago with her husband and son. She graduated from USask with a PhD in Biochemistry and a Master of Public Health. She also has four years of postdoctoral work experience at the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization in Saskatoon. She has teaching experience as a sessional lecturer and from working for the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Anesthesia’s research division. Her love of working in research that prioritizes human health has helped shape her personal approach toward maximizing research outcomes that benefit population health in particular.

Creeden Martell, communications assistant, joined pewaseskwan in April 2021. He brings credentials and experience in journalism and a passion for writing and editing. He is a member of Waterhen Lake First Nation in Treaty 6 Territory. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2016 from the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. Creeden worked for CBC Saskatchewan in Regina for nearly four years. He has written for Eagle Feather News, VICE and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

Cydney Leibel, clerical assistant, joined the team in October 2020. Her work with pewaseskwan includes a specific focus on the waniska Centre for HIV/HCV/STBBIs Inequities. Cydney is from Balgonie, a small town in Treaty 4 Territory just east of Regina. She has a diploma in Business from Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Cydney has six years of experience in administration working in different companies and industries as support for CEOs, directors and managers. She has worked in environmental management, insurance and most recently she worked with EVRAZ Regina. She has a passion for interior design and decorating. She just completed an online sociology course and she aspires to get a degree in Business, which will offer her diverse routes and opportunities, and knowledge of different industries.

Dallas Montpetitwaniska Centre community coordinator (Saskatchewan), joined the team in May 2021. She is based out of waniska’s partner organization, All Nations Hope Network in Regina, located in Treaty 4 Territory. A Métis teacher with a passion for reconnecting with her Indigenous identity, she brings strong cross-cultural experience and communication skills. Dallas was born and raised in Regina. She graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina through the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP). She taught elementary education and English as an Additional Language for seven years, including a year spent teaching English to children in an after school program in Yokohama, Japan. She also hopes to do work on the roots of the HIV/HCV/STBBI epidemic rather than treating the symptoms. Dallas is also embracing the opportunity to work closely with Indigenous communities, both to contribute to the work of addressing HIV/HCV/STBBI issues and to learn more about herself as an Indigenous person through the work.

Harvey Thunderchild, project officer, joined pewaseskwan in August 2020. Harvey has more than 40 years’ experience working with Indigenous communities, programs and municipal governments in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario. Harvey, a member of Thunderchild First Nation, is a descendent of Chief Peyasiw-Awasis (Thunderchild), who was a signatory to Treaty 6 and an advocate for Indigenous rights to education and culture. He brings generations of traditional knowledge and language skills, as he is a fluent Cree speaker. Harvey is passionate about working with First Nations communities and organizations, and has worked in sectors including healthcare, justice, education, emergency management and human resources. His most recent positions include being co-director of operations for Thunderchild First Nation and the band administrator of the Sunchild First Nation in Alberta.

Jaida Beaudin, grant coordinator, joined the team in June 2021 and works on grants for the waniska Centre. Previously she was involved with pewaseskwan through her position as a researcher at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. Jaida was born and raised in Regina, on Treaty 4 Territory. She is an Indigiqueer Mi’kmaq from Membertou First Nation (Peace and Friendship Treaty -Nova Scotia) on her father’s side, and Cree and Metis from Cowessess First Nation (Treaty 4) on her mother’s side. Jaida has a BA in Political Science from and a diploma in Indigenous Communications of Arts, both from First Nations University of Canada. During her communications studies she did a practicum at the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University in Montreal, where she was part of a large team investigating First Nations water issues. She recently completed an internship at the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, where she focused on public affairs and policy.

Kehinde Ametepee, MBBS, MPH, project officer, is a Ghanaian physician who was born and raised in Nigeria. He holds a Master of Public Health from Simon Fraser University. His training, combined with five years of clinical experience before moving to Canada, makes him well grounded in the biomedical, clinical, socio-political, and economic aspects of health. Kehinde’s areas of research interests broadly include community based-participatory research Two-eyed Seeing methodologies, and health inequities involving key populations such as Indigenous communities, African, Caribbean and Black populations, and new Canadians. He is particularly interested in exploring innovative approaches to improving testing, diagnosis, and linkage-to-care regarding HIV, Hepatitis C and other sexually transmissible and blood-borne infections in these populations. His current work as a Project Officer with the IWRG involves providing support to teams of community researchers in all phases of research projects from agenda development through project implementation.

Kelley Bird-Naytowhow, Indigenous knowledge facilitator, joined pewaseskwan Indigenous Wellness Research Group when it amalgamated with the Sask Stories project. His role, currently based in Saskatoon, has seen him take on a wide variety of duties, most recently communication between research project partners. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelley’s role also involved work on unpublished projects, program and/or initiatives outcomes. Kelley was adopted during the Sixties Scoop and has chosen the Bird-Naytowhow names for his biological parents. His father is from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation and his mother from Montreal Lake Cree Nation.

Kimberly Statham, clerical assistant, joined pewaseskwan at the end of February 2020. She works with the team in Saskatoon and has lived Saskatchewan for 17 years. Kimberly grew up in British Columbia, splitting childhood between Maple Ridge, Vernon and a Farm in Salmon Arm. Her work with the team sees her work with Dr. Alexandra King’s clinic and patients. In other duties, she provides technological support to the team, as well as graphics for group project materials. She has years of experience in retail management of multiple companies in the city over that span of time, acquiring and developing skills and knowledge involved with marketing, logistics, training and whatever was needed.

Luke Heidebrecht, research associate, joined pewaseskwan in the spring of 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. His role includes coordinating the Peers 4 Wellness project, facilitating the Sowing Seeds Together research methods workshop, as well as being involved in research activities such as data gathering, analysis, and knowledge translation through writing and editing. Luke has been working on a PhD in Curriculum Studies at USask since 2016. For this project he has travelled to Guatemala, working with Mayan communities to examine the impact of experiential education programs on hosting communities. Luke has been involved in various other research projects as an assistant, presenting and publishing, and making connections with the educational research community at the University of Saskatchewan.

Lynette Epp, research coordinator, joined pewaseskwan in September 2020 and works with the Sanctum 1.5 project. She oversees all the research activities for the CIHR Sanctum 1.5: Hope through Strength project grant. Lynette has completed a Master of Science in Community and Population Health Sciences in the College of Medicine at USask. Her thesis focused on truth and reconciliation in Indigenous health research, which gave her a different lens to understand the historical context of health research particularly. She brings over 15 years of experience in health research as a research assistant and research coordinator. She worked with Indigenous communities closely while working for the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, where she was closely involved in the First Nations Lung Health Project. Lynette grew up in Prince Albert, in Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis, and has lived in Saskatoon since she was in high school. She is a fourth-generation settler of Swedish and Ukrainian ancestry.

Nathan Oakes, research associate, is from Piapot, Saskatchewan, located in the Treaty 4 Territory.  Nathan completed his Master of Public Health in April 2021 and he continues to study at the graduate level at USask. Nathan will begin work to obtain his PhD in Community and Population Health Sciences, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at USask in September 2021. Nathan’s previous experience outside of academia includes roles such as being a role model teaching dance in various First Nation communities to inspire Indigenous youth to embrace education, culture, and art. Nathan is grateful and pays respect to be a part of pewaseskwan, because he believes the research conducted by the group will provide valuable progress in harvesting improvements in access to care for Indigenous people.

Rebecca Zagozewski, research manager, joined pewaseskwan in January 2021. She has 17 years’ of experience working with First Nation communities though positions with USask, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Saskatchewan First Nations Water Association (SFNWA) assisting, coordinating and managing research projects in areas related to First Nations health, drinking water and environmental protection. She graduated from USask with both a BA and an MA in Sociology. She is working toward a Master of Public Administration at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Rebecca is a settler of German, Scandinavian and Dutch ancestry. She was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, but grew up in Prince Albert. She graduated from high school there and then moved to Saskatoon, where she has lived ever since, so her ties to Treaty 6 Territory are strong.

Sadeem Fayed, MPH (c), B.Sc., research associate, is a graduate student at Simon Fraser University, where she is currently pursuing a Master in Public Health. Sadeem holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of British Columbia. She also has a background in biomedical research, dentistry and international trade and investment. Her work involves applying reconciliatory research methodologies to address colonial health inequities within Indigenous contexts in Canada. As a member of the IWRG, Sadeem is co-leading the Peers4Wellness study in Vancouver, an Indigenous, community-led study which will introduce Indigenous peer-based models of Hepatitis C Virus and HIV support for Indigenous women in select regions in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Sadeem is proud of her Lebanese heritage and commitment to reconciliatory citizenship at home in Canada. Sadeem lives with her husband and son in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the unceded Indigenous lands of the Coast Salish peoples.

Sarah MacDonald, BA, MJ, communications officer, is a journalist and writer who was born and raised on Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis, just outside of Prince Albert. Her background is a mix of Scottish, Irish, Lebanese and French. She received her BA (High Honours) in International Cooperation and Conflict Studies, with a minor in Spanish, from USask and her Master of Journalism from Carleton University. She is passionate about social justice, reconciliation, politics and international affairs, languages, and arts and culture of all types. She is on the board of directors of the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Opera Association.

Sharon Jinkerson-Brass, Elder and research associate, is a member of Key First Nation in Saskatchewan but is based in Vancouver. Sharon was part of the Sixties Scoop, in which she was removed from her family. She reunited with her family in the 1980s. Sharon is Saulteaux and received her cultural teachings from her beloved Kokum (grandmother) Rebecca, who was a midwife and traditional healer. Sharon’s cultural heritage has inspired her way of living and being, which in turn has informed her community work. As a Knowledge Keeper for pewaseskwan, Sharon has worked on multiple health related, community-based research projects. As a multi-media artist, she has contributed to several published papers and made two videos related to Indigenous health research.

Subhashini Iyer, B.Sc., M.Sc., MPH, research associate, was born in a small neighbourhood in Mumbai, India and did most of her academic learning in the state of Gujarat. She pursued Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, India, and Master of Science in Biotechnology from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India. She received her Masters in Public Health from USask in Saskatoon. She joined pewaseskwan as a Public Health Practicum student in May 2018 and continued working on several projects as a Graduate Research Assistant throughout her academic career. She has worked with Aboriginal communities in India through non-profit organizations in several projects related to women’s hygiene and children’s education.

Taiwo Ametepee, research associate, joined the waniska Centre team at USask during the spring of 2020. Taiwo is involved in the development and evaluation of waniska’s programs, as well as the grant writing and application process. He is currently a year into a Master of Public Health degree at USask. He also has an educational background in medicine and surgery, which includes a degree obtained in 2010 at the University of Ilorin while in Nigeria. Taiwo’s work has also seen him work as a team lead with an organization collaborating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to develop health programs for and enroll Cameroonian refugees in southeastern Nigeria in the country’s national health insurance scheme, prior his move to Canada. Taiwo is a Nigerian-born Ghanaian and is interested in learning more about Indigenous cultures and practices in Canada and the way colonization has affected the Indigenous population over the centuries.

Victor Foshion, community research associate, joined pewaseskwan in July 2020. Victor is the team lead for the Butterfly Project based in Vancouver but works from Saskatoon. He has worked with the research group’s fifth cohort of participants, delving into how the lives of the participants have changed since their participation in previous research projects. Butterfly Project, uses expressive art and ceremony, led by Elder Sharon. Victor has worked with non-profits in Michigan and has also volunteered with OUTSaskatoon. He attended the University of Michigan taking arts and that is where he met his husband. Victor, a queer man from the Chicago, Ill., area, has lived in Saskatoon for about 18 months with his husband, Josh, and their dog, Liza.