New NIDA Board Directors!
The National Indigenous Diabetes Association would like to acknowledge our newly elected Board Directors. Each of our new Board Directors brings their unique skill sets and perspectives to NIDA and the work that we do. We are excited about our path forward with these new Directors joining us!
Jessica has been the Tribal Diabetes Coordinator for Dakota Ojibway Health Services (DOHS) in Manitoba since 2015. Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2009 and has since worked in community health, hospital-based care, and second level nursing support. Jessica will bring her solid knowledge of diabetes, leadership and advocacy skills, and knowledge of gaps in services in Indigenous communities to the Board. Jessica has the full support of the DOHS in joining the NIDA Board, and they have noted that she is well regarded for her leadership in projects, managing tasks/duties in a timely manner, exceptional organizational skills, a respectful attitude, and having an open and empathetic perspective.
Laurie Ann Nicholas
Laurie Ann Nicholas, RD, is the co-founder of the Aboriginal Nutrition Network. She is a proud Maliseet woman from Tobique First Nation and is currently the Indian Day School Class Action Coordinator for Neqotkuk First Nation. Laurie is a registered dietitian with the NB Association of Dietitians and has been working in health field since 1991. Laurie has worked in Diabetes Education as a Diabetes Coordinator and Community Dietitian for several organizations and communities and has been a Certified First Nations Health Manager since 2015. Laurie is a cultural specialist, pipe carrier and conductor of water and Full Moon Ceremonies which is a great asset. She is knowledgeable and participates in the Wolastoqey language and songs as well in traditional dancing and beadwork.
Robynne has worked in the area of Aboriginal health for over 16 years and is currently the Director of Healthy Living for the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (I·SPARC). She is a firm believer that physical activity is the key to obtaining balance and strong mental and physical health, and learned at an early age how sport contributes to positive self-esteem. As an athlete, her most notable sporting accomplishment was competing at both the national and international levels in professional beach volleyball where she achieved two National titles and qualified for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Robynne has embraced her passion for the traditional and medicinal uses for plants and fungi and can often be found in the mountains gathering medicine. She has completed 2 apprenticeships in Herbal Medicine and Human Physiology, and the nutritional and medicinal benefits of Northwest plants, and has been gathering wild foods since she was 6. She shares her teachings with her son and they have recently embarked on their teaching journey, providing workshops and presentations to Indigenous communities. Her future goal is to work together with traditional knowledge keepers in indigenous communities to protect and revitalize these practices for future generations. Robynne is extremely proud of her Cree and Japanese heritage and her greatest joy is raising her two sons with her husband on Vancouver Island.
Marisa is a member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta and works as a Nutrition and Fitness Advisor to her community. Marisa has a Bachelors of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Science along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and she is also a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor. In February 2018 Marisa presented on a NADA/IDHC webinar in which she spoke about her life with diabetes, herself having Type 2 and experienced gestational diabetes, and her daughter has Type 1. Marisa will bring to the NIDA Board a wealth of experience in navigating the challenges of living healthy but being able to manage diabetes through diet and exercise.
Dr. Barry Lavallee
Dr. Barry Lavallee is a member of the First Nation and Métis communities of Manitoba. His ancestral territories are located at St. Laurent, Duck Bay and Lake Manitoba First Nation. He is a member of the Bear Clan. He practices Family Medicine in Winnipeg. He is currently senior physician with Ongomiizwin-Education and leads the Indigenous health longitudinal course in undergraduate medicine at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. He serves as medical advisor to the Diabetes Integration Project of the First Nation Health Services and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, Nanaandawewigamig. The continuing impact of racism, oppression and colonisation on the health and healing of Indigenous communities and their relationship to chronic diseases centers in his work with Diabetes and Chronic Kidney disease. Fostering an anti-racist and anti-colonial framework through a non-deficit model of engagement in the patient-provider relationship permits the humanization of Indigenous peoples. His research focuses on chronic diseases among First Nation communities. He was co-investigator for a project that intends to reduce the burden of dialysis among First Nations, employing a population based intervention of screening, location of disease and appropriate matching to clinical services. He and his colleagues were successful in winning a grant from the Canadian Institute of Heath Research to provide definitive evidence that point of care testing is superior to health education in reducing the burden of chronic kidney disease among First Nations and other Indigenous communities in Canada.