Board & Staff

Board & Staff

NIDA Board of Directors and Staff, December 2018



Robert (Bob) Fenton is Anishnaabe from Animakee Wa Zhing No. 37 First Nation, Treaty 3.  He has two sons and three grandsons.  He has worked for the Ontario Native Women’s Association as the Aboriginal Diabetes Education Coordinator for the past sixteen years.

Diabetes has ravaged his family for three generations and now the fourth and fifth generations are here.  Bob was diagnosed in 2007 with Type 2 diabetes.  Therefore, he is very honoured to be a part of the National Indigenous Diabetes Association in the effort to end diabetes.

Bob believes in his favourite acronym “TEAM” (Together Everyone Achieves More).  Researchers, doctors & nurses, the medical profession, Diabetes Canada, chiefs and councils, teachers, diabetes educators, community members, grandfathers, grandmothers,  Elders and youth  need to come together to end diabetes.



ooklas, Yakup 

My name is Yakup.  I was given that name because Yakup was a very sharing woman.
In 1994, my husband and I adopted two young boys into our family in the Mowachaht/Muchalaht tradition of the nuu-chah-nulth-aht.
My English name is Margaretta James. My mother was L’il Wat and my father was Filipino. I live at Tsaxana near Gold River on Vancouver Island in Mowachaht/Muchalaht territory.
Each indigenous nation defines an Elder by several factors and qualities.  Me?  We share what we know. I am honoured to have been asked to share as an Elder for the National Indigenous Diabetes Association. The Language?  Cultural Beliefs?  The Heritage?  The History?  I am not ashamed to say that I don’t know everything. I am still learning, too. In the Language, essock is respect. In this new role, I will attempt to share what I know, with respect. Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the fall when 9/11 occurred, there was a shift in my life choices of living healthier. Last year 2020 reawakened in all of us the importance of our wellness, the quality of our being. We have been nudged to accept the science, adapt our lifestyle and appreciate our lives.
kleco kleco for allowing me to share my journey.  cuu.


Past Chairperson

I am a mother and a proud woman of mixed heritage, Mohawk, wolf clan from Six Nations and English.  I began working in Diabetes prevention in 1996 at the Niagara Regional Native Centre, facilitating a talking circle.  In 1997 I began working for the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative as a Regional Diabetes Worker.  For the past 17 years I have been the Executive Director with the organization (IDHC) and continue to fight the epidemic in our communities.  I have been the chair of the National Indigenous Diabetes Association and sat on many health and diabetes related committees and boards and currently am chair of the Indigenous Health Network in the HNHB LHIN region.  IDHC has expanded throughout the years to provide innovative services that are responsive to the needs of our people, respect autonomy and incorporate our teachings wherever possible.  I also enjoy being in nature, off the grid, fishing, hiking, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.


Board Director

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 NIDA/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.


Board Director

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.



Lyle W Daniels is from the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan but a lifelong resident of the City of Regina. He is a second generation residential school survivor that saw him struggle with addiction throughout his life. He currently works for the Saskatchewan Building Trades Council and the First Nations Employment Center where he works at developing labour and partnerships with the Indigenous community. Lyle has had a lifelong commitment to helping his community, especially the Indigenous young people that has guided him through many different fields of work throughout his life. His latest fight is as a person with type 2 Diabetes where he was diagnosed in 2008. Through a lifestyle change, Lyle has committed to fighting Diabetes and losing over 50 lbs with a plan to eat healthy, eat less and be active. This change allowed him to be taken off insulin and now only requires medication. A trained facilitator, Lyle enjoys providing Indigenous Awareness training and speaking to young people on careers, personal development and balance. He enjoys sharing stories of his life and learnings he has gained to help other people.



Robynne has worked in the area of Indigenous health for over 18 years and is currently the Director of Healthy Living for 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-es- teem. 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 knowledge 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 on Van-couver Island. She feels extremely grateful to be able to work, play and learn together with our communities, and healthy living leaders across BC!


Board Director

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.


Board Director

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.


Board Director

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.



Executive Director

Jeff LaPlante is Métis from the Red River Valley and Winnipeg. Jeff has worked in the fields of human rights, First Nations self-government, First Nations community-based research and advocacy, program development and delivery, and Indigenous health and wellness since graduating from the University of Manitoba in 2001. Jeff envisions an expanded reach and network for NIDA, based on existing connections and relationships, and looking to extensive partnerships and collaborations with diabetes-related health researchers; programs and services; and community-based practitioners, knowledge-keepers and healers.


Administrative Coordinator

Sylvia Sentner was raised and currently resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  She is of Cree and Scottish heritage. Sylvia is a mother of two and has worked within the administrative/customer service industry for over 12 years.  She is passionate about end of life care and has obtained her Applied Counselling Certificate through Red River College and completed training within the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority to aid as a palliative care volunteer.  Sylvia has always been drawn towards a helping profession and is excited to work within and learn from the National Indigenous Diabetes Association.

NIDA Past Board of Directors 

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National Indigenous Diabetes Association Inc.
202-160 Provencher Blvd
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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