NIDA Past Board of Directors

ELDER CAROLINE DAIGNEAULT

Past NIDA Elder 04/17/2018-04/28/2020

My name is Caroline Ann Daigneault. I was born and raised on the Fishing Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. I am a retired social worker, however I still very much like to get involved in helping people get well. I’ve worked in the human services field for many years and have gained plenty of knowledge, skills and experience. I am also very capable of doing facilitation which I solely done for a couple of years. I do traditional parenting training and Medicine Wheel training based on personal growth and development. I am a grand mother and blessed with eight grand children and three great grandchildren which makes me happy. I am so happy and grateful to be part of your team.

DR. AGNES COUTINHO

Past NIDA Board Director 12/01/14-01-13-2022

The health benefits of physical activity, particularly prevention and management of chronic diseases, especially Type 2 diabetes, have always fascinated Agnes. She completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and Health Science, followed by a MSc degree specializing in exercise physiology and metabolism at York University (Toronto). At York, she obtained the Fitness Assessment & Exercise Counseling Certificate, as well as the Certified Fitness Consultant and Professional Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant certificates through the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. She then moved to the UK to complete a PhD in medical sciences (specializing in Endocrinology) at the University of Edinburgh, and remained in the UK for a postdoctoral position funded by the Medical Research Council. Currently, Agnes is the Assistant Program Head of Kinesiology at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. Together with her role as Board Director and Past Chair at NIDA, these complementary and exciting roles fit incredibly well with her personal and professional goals around health and wellness, and promotion of active and healthy living.

JESSICA FLETT

Past NIDA Board Director 10/02/2019-01/13/2022

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.

DAVID GILL

Past NIDA Board Director 09/19/2017-09/09/2020

David Gill was born and raised in Mashteuiatsh, an Innu community. David left his native community at 19 to pursue my goal of becoming a world-class athlete, dream that was eventually fulfilled when he made it to team Canada in athletics (800-1500m) from 2005 to 2007. Parallel to his athletic career, he is CEO of TotalCoaching, a software company I built to give easier access to personal trainers, to anyone with an Internet connexion. TotalCoaching is currently being used by thousands of personal trainers and hundreds of thousands of health enthusiasts from over 40 countries around the world. David believes  physical activity is not sufficiently recognized as the most important factor for diabetes prevention.

WENDY MCNAB

Past Board Director 09/26/2016-10/02/2019

Wendy McNab is a Cree/Salteaux woman from the Treaty 4 Area (Gordons First Nation, Cowessess First Nation and Peepeekisis First Nation) in Saskatchewan. She is the mother of son Justice, who is an avid lacrosse player. For over ten years Wendy has worked collaboratively to create spaces for learning and sharing stories about Indian Residential Schools in Canada including community forums, panel discussions, conference presentations, and digital storytelling projects featuring survivors and their families. Wendy also has over ten years’ experience working closely with post-secondary students, faculty and staff, and First Nations communities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Winnipeg in Conflict Resolution Studies and a certificate in Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma from the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She is currently completing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Winnipeg. Since 2014, Wendy has been the Coordinator for the Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange (PEKE) project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and housed at the Nanaandawewigamig First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba.

VIRGIL E. NATHANIEL

Past Secretary 03/02/2011-10/02/2019

Virgil is currently an Associate Professor at the University College of the North in Thompson, Manitoba, and has taught Anatomy, Physiology, and Chemistry and other courses in the northern Nursing program for over 20 years. He holds a Ph.D in physiology from the University of Manitoba. His doctoral research pertained to the study of diabetic neuropathy, a complication seen in longstanding diabetes in both Type 1 and Type 2 forms. His research involved examining specific structural, biochemical, and physiological changes that occur in distal symmetric polyneuropathy, and what could be done to prevent or reverse its progression. He continues to be interested in diabetes and what can be done to reduce its incidence, especially in the north. He believes that close monitoring and early detection may be essential in preventing diabetic complications. Although trained in the medical sciences, Virgil also considers himself to be a “closet musician” and plays piano, organ, some guitar and with interest in blues, southern rock, gospel, classical, and movie score music production.

MELITA PAUL

Past Board Director 05/03/2012-10/02/2019

Melita Paul is a community health worker for NunatuKavut Community Council in Labrador. She has worked in this position for more than 10 years. Melita have spent most of this time working on the Learning For Life ~ Preventing Diabetes project teaching people in her communities about the prevention of type 2 diabetes by promoting a healthy active lifestyle. Melita works predominantly in the communities on the South East coast of Labrador where there are little resources available to residents in the communities. Melita is also very active in providing aboriginal representation on many issues both regionally and provincially. Some of her involvement has been: The Canadian Diabetes Association and their advocacy team for which she received volunteer of the year award a few years ago, the provincial planning committee for the Aboriginal Women’s conferences in NL, Chairperson / board member of the Southern Labrador Family Resource Centres for the past 10 years. In her personal life, Melita lives in Charlottetown, Labrador with her husband Wayde and is a Mom to her son MacKay and daughter Alyssa and a Grandmother to her 5 year old grandson Kobe.

TROY PAUL

Past Treasurer 05/28/2008-10/02/2019

Troy is a Mi’kmaq, originally from the Nova Scotia community of Membertou. He is currently employed with Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia as the Director of Human Resources. He has had over 10 years experience working with and for Aboriginal communities and organizations across Canada. He believes the effect of diabetes is a national problem of eminent proportions, requiring immediate actions to lessen harmful effects to grassroots people both on and off reserve. His personal concern is direct, with family members, friends and relatives suffering the dreadful effects of such an insidious disease. Amputations, blindness, insulin dependence, and even death are but a few examples of situations he has encountered first hand. Therefore, it is of great personal satisfaction to him to help address potential solutions and answers to this plague affecting Aboriginal people.

LEON SIMARD 

Past Board Director 01/20/2014-04/2019

Leon was raised a free range organic kid in the small Metis community of Manigotogan, Manitoba and is a member of the Hollow Water Ojibway Band. He earned his Bachelor of Education degree from Brandon University and subsequently taught school in remote First Nation communities as well as in the inner city of Winnipeg at Children of The Earth High School. While earning his Master’s Degree from the University of Manitoba he became acutely aware of the health disparities between First Nations people and the rest of Canadians. His interest in curriculum development led him to work with the Kidney Foundation of Canada to research, write and implement a K-6 Curriculum on the prevention of kidney disease, it is currently being piloted in several schools in northern Manitoba. For the past two years, Leon has worked as the Manitoba First Nations Food Security Coordinator with the Four Arrows Regional Health Authority office in Winnipeg. The complex issues involved in food security, nutrition, education and community development combine to make his job very interesting and challenging. He lives in Winnipeg where he is actively involved in his neighbourhood community gardening program and crime prevention activities.

KERRY SPENCE

Past Youth Board Director 09/26/2016-07/09/2018

Kerry Spence is an Ojibway-Métis woman, originally from Eddystone, Manitoba, and a member of Lake Manitoba First Nation. In 2015, she completed a Master of Science (Human Nutritional Sciences) degree, and she recently completed training (a dietetic internship) in Manitoba to be a Registered Dietitian. Her passions lie in indigenous health and indigenous foods. She will be
returning to the University of Manitoba for her PhD Studies in Fall 2017, in which she will assess the indigenous cultural safety training of dietitians in Canada. Her overall goal is to utilize her knowledge, skills, and cultural humility to assist Indigenous people in attaining optimal nutritional health and healing through food. 

CATHERINE TURNER

Past Board Director

Catherine Turner is Métis, originally from Manitoba, residing in Courtenay, BC, since 1991. She has been involved in health promotion programs for Aboriginal people at the community and national levels. She brings many years of experience related to diabetes and Aboriginal people. In addition to studying at the University of Manitoba and North Island College, Catherine completed her Bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication, Royal Roads University in 2009. She is committed to reducing health disparities experienced by Aboriginal people. Currently Catherine is involved in First Nations/Aboriginal kidney awareness & education activities, under contract with the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch.

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National Indigenous Diabetes Association Inc.
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