Our Research Assistants
Nathan Oakes is a Treaty 4 Indigenous student from Piapot First Nation, Saskatchewan. Nathan completed his 4-year Bachelor of Science at the University of Saskatchewan, where he continues his studies at the School of Public Health.
During Nathan’s undergraduate journey, he kept engaged and involved with the on-campus community and the off-campus community by working as the Aboriginal Student Ambassador and Science Outreach Program Facilitator. Nathan’s mentorship experience includes teaching dance in various Indigenous communities; role modelling and striving to inspire Indigenous male youth to embrace education, culture, and art. Nathan is motivated to continue developing his engagement and mentorship skills, as well as meaningful network connections, as this is part of his vision for success.
Nathan is honored to be offered a research assistant position with Morning Star Lodge and looks forward to the opportunity to translate his academic experience into a community-based professional role as a part of multi-disciplinary platform. Nathan will continue to work toward establishing healthy relationships with his colleagues, community members, health-care team members, and he looks forward to this exciting opportunity as his first step toward a brighter future in public health.
Miranda Keewatin is from Peepeekisis First Nation. Miranda is in her final year of the Indigenous Social Work program at the First Nations University of Canada and she is a part-time Y-SHORE youth worker with the Street Culture Project. Miranda is honoured to be the mother of four wonderful children (ages 16, 12, 5, and 5 months) and a supporting companion. These roles have taught her the essentials of life which continues to this day. Miranda’s motivation for becoming a social worker came from her experiences growing up. During her adolescence she both witnessed and experienced families in crisis. Miranda feels the impact of Residential Schools on the identify of her grandparents, parents, and relatives, resulting in historic and intergenerational trauma that has had profound effect on her. Miranda chose to study Indigenous social work after a process of soul searching as to the best use of her skills. Miranda’s goal is to receive her degree in the spring of 2019 and to specialize in Indigenous community work and policy change. Attending the First Nations University of Canada, Miranda has had the privilege to work alongside Elders who incorporate traditional teachings and practices into a curriculum designed to address First Nation’s oral values and Western written language. This guidance and support from Elders has impacted Miranda’s studies by encouraging and supporting her decisions and helping her balance her spirituality. Miranda is doing her last practicum placement at Morning Star Lodge and is honoured and excited to learn from the team.
Dana Hickey is Anishinaabe Kwe from Robinson-Huron Treaty territory and a member of Dokis First Nation on the French River in Ontario. Dana is currently working on a Master of Indigenous Relations at Laurentian university where she utilizes Indigenous research methods to examine power relations between Indigenous peoples and the settler population. Dana is a mother of one amazing daughter, and an active member of her community. Dana is proud to be part of a mentorship lab where she can share her skills and knowledge, learn from her peers, while working on research outcomes that benefit Indigenous communities.
Sebastien is French-Canadian, and comes from Northern Ontario. He has lived throughout Northern Ontario, and the Abitibi region of Quebec, and spent several years in South Africa.
Sebastien completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from Laurentian University in 2009, and worked in various analytical and research labs before finding himself employed at HSNRI. He then completed his Masters of Biology in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Laurentian University through HSNRI in 2017. Prior to joining the Morning Star Lodge team, Sebastien worked as the lead research assistant for the Nokhbeh Lab, doing microbiology and epidemiology work regarding C. difficile in patients at Health Sciences North.
Sebastien is thrilled to be part of the Morning Star Lodge team where he is able to offer as well as receive mentorship. His love of learning and teaching make him an excellent addition to the team at Morning Star Lodge.
I am a Metis woman of Metis Nation Saskatchewan. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Health Studies at the University of Regina. I believe it is important to create a representative workforce of Indigenous people within research communities as well as within the healthcare system. My career goal is to contribute to eliminating the health inequities experienced by Indigenous people. I am very excited to be learning from Dr. Carrie Bourassa as well as the rest of the lab team.
Marlin Legare works as a research assistant who aids in the development and production of research projects from The Morning Star Lodge in Regina, SK. He is also a Citizen of the Métis Nation who is currently studying Indigenous Health Practice out the First Nations University of Canada; he intends to pursue an academic career from there in fields of health science, Indigenous health, and social science.
Marlin was raised in the Northeast area of Saskatchewan in a rural community called Mistatim. He is excited to be working with the Morning Star Lodge studying health sciences, as he is someone who has seen firsthand the positive and the negative of health outcomes for Indigenous individuals in rural communities.
Marlin is also an accomplished Métis athlete. In 2008 Marlin attended the 2008 North American Indigenous Games, and the Canada Games in 2009 for wrestling. In 2009 he also received the SaskTel Indigenous Youth of Excellence Award in the Sports and Recreation Category. He was also a member of the University of Regina Men’s Wrestling Team, where he obtained his B.Sc. Kinesiology. While at the University, he was also involved in First Nations programs such as Sports For Life, Aboriginal History Month, and the 2014 North American Indigenous Games.
Louise BigEagle graduated from the First Nations University with a Bachelor in Arts, majoring in Media, Arts and Performance. She also has her Level II Arts Administration. She is a filmmaker and writer, who specializes in documentaries.
Kayla Watson- McNab is a Plains Cree woman, from the Treaty 4 TATC George Gordon First Nations. Kayla is eighteen years old and is currently completing her first year for her Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Regina. She wants to pursue her career as an Indigenous Studies high school teacher. Kayla is truly inspired by her cultural background; she believes it is important to learn who you are and what type of gifts you hold within your spirit. She loves to write poems and songs during her spare time when not working or focusing on school. Kayla is an intelligent women, who loves to volunteer and give back to her community. She finds it very important to share the knowledge she carries about her culture, along with practicing it.
Ninanāskomon: “I am grateful, I am Thankful”
Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Jen Billan is passionate about working with Indigenous communities to build capacity and sustain healthy environments. Jen has spent the majority of her life volunteering with various community projects. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus in Women’s and Gender Studies and Indigenous Studies. Through community-based research, she earned her Masters degree in Health Studies, supervised by Dr. Carrie Bourassa, where she explored identity and health with Indigenous grandmothers who are caring for grandchildren. As the Research Assistant with Morning Star Lodge, Jen is grateful to work in a mentorship lab and continue her dedication to community-based research projects with Indigenous communities.
Heather is an adventurous, determined, and outgoing Indigenous woman. She is Nakoda and Cree from the Okanese First Nation located in Treaty 4 Territory. At twenty-two years old, she currently is studying at the First Nations University of Canada enrolled in the Indian Communication Arts Program (INCA) pursuing a career in Journalism and International Development. Heather has work experience internationally in Colombia working in youth and community development. In her free time, Heather volunteers with organizations, volunteer committees and boards that she is associated with including the Canadian Federation of Students in which she holds the elected position as Saskatchewan Representative. When not studying, working, or volunteering Heather enjoys travelling, engaging in cultural driven activities and ceremonies around her community, festivals, and attending social justice events around the city of Regina. Heather also competes competitively in the Indigenous sport Archery and has participated in the 1st World Indigenous Peoples Games in Palmas, Brazil in October 2015 for Team Canada. Heather has a deep passion for Indigenous languages, Treaty education and reconciliation in Canada.
Mikayla is currently completing her final semester of a Bachelor of Health Studies from the University of Regina. Throughout her undergraduate degree, Mikayla has been passionate about understanding the relationship and role of Indigenous healing practices within the Western biomedical model of healthcare. As an Indigenous ally, she is passionate about the work she is contributing to at The Morning Star Lodge and is excited for the opportunity to connect with community. Mikayla’s career goal is to meaningfully contribute to the Indigenization of the current Canadian healthcare system. When she is not at work or school, Mikayla enjoys spending time outside and connecting with community members. She is looking forward to her semester of fieldwork at Morning Star Lodge.
Mayarí Hengstermann is a medical anthropologist from Guatemala. She is a post-doctoral fellow student at the University of Saskatchewan who received a scholarship from Queen Elizabeth II Scholars. That gave her the opportunity to experience and learn from other research projects and organisations that focus on health-related topics which have a significant impact on the lives of Indigenous populations. She began her learning at All Nations Hope Network (ANHN) and is now continuing at Morning Star Lodge for first-hand experience on their projects. These could be a model to other sites, research projects and implemented into curricula that provide opportunities and safe spaces to vulnerable, neglected, discriminated and mistreated groups or individuals. Mayarí has primarily worked on various research projects that have focused on the health of Indigenous women and their children, centred on topics that impact individuals’ well-being and health. Although her role at ANHN was that of a spectator, she was able to participate in a variety of specific events and activities relevant to the community, allowing her to reflect upon how researchers approach and conduct studies and the importance of integrating communities when assisting people. Morning Star Lodge welcomes Mayarí to learn and understand how research within Indigenous populations in Canada is done, in ways that respond to Indigenous identities, beliefs and priorities.