Dr. Carrie Bourassa

Lead Lab Mentor

Dr. Carrie Bourassa is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute for Aboriginal Peoples' Health and a professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology. Prior to taking this position in October 2018, she served her communities as a Professor of Indigenous Health Studies at First Nations University of Canada for fifteen years. Dr. Bourassa is an Indigenous community-based researcher and is proud to be the successful Nominated Principal Investigator on two Canada Foundation for Innovation Grants that funded the Indigenous Community-based Health Research Lab in 2010 and most recently in April 2016 the Cultural Safety Evaluation, Training and Research Lab at FNUniv. She is a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and was recently appointed as a member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institutes Advisory Boards – Institute for Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. Carrie’s research interests include the impacts of colonization on the health of Indigenous people; creating culturally safe care in health service delivery; Indigenous community-based health research methodology; HIV/AIDS, HCV among Indigenous people; end-of-life care among Indigenous people; dementia among Indigenous people, Indigenous Water Governance and Indigenous women’s health. Carrie is Métis, belonging to the Regina Riel Métis Council #34. 



Elder Betty McKenna

Guiding Elder

Elder Betty McKenna is Anishnabae from the Shoal River Band #366 who, with her husband Ken, has had three children. She is an elder for First Nations and Metis education at the Regina Public School Board, a lecturer of Indigenous Health Studies in social work and biology, and guiding elder for many research projects, including Elder for IAPH and Research and Education for Solutions to violence and abuse. She has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications and is an editor of the book, Listening To The Beat Of Our Drum. She has served on the College of Physicians and Surgeons and National Elders Advisory Corrections Canada. Elder Betty was the recipient of the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee medals and Excellence in Health award.



Nicole Akan

Research Lab Coordinator

Nicole Akan is Plains Cree and a member of the Muskowekwan First Nation. She is the current Research Lab Coordinator for Morning Star Lodge in Regina, Saskatchewan. A graduate of the First Nations University of Canada, Ms. Akan’s current position allows her to apply her leadership and relationship building skills in a community based environment. While attending school full time, Ms. Akan helped establish the University of Regina faculty of kinesiolgy’s flagship youth program, the Fred Sasakamoose Aboriginal Youth Leadership & Wellness Program. Previously employed by CBC Saskatchewan, Ms. Akan worked on numerous projects and community based events within their communications department. Having received numerous qualifications and training in the areas of child development, youth empowerment, parenting, suicide prevention, healthy relationships and mental health and addictions, Ms. Akan’s knowledge and skills are assets to her current role in the community. Her proudest accomplishment is being a drug and alcohol free role model for her son and youth of all ages. She believes education is the most important path and aspires to be an inspirational pillar of the community.


Danette Starblanket


A citizen of the Star Blanket Cree Nation, Danette began her studies at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) as an MPP (Master of Public Policy) student in 2013, moving into the PhD program in 2014. Her PhD dissertation topic is “An Analysis of Government Response to Idle No More”. Before returning to graduate school, Danette attended the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) and gained a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) in English in 1993, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1994 and a Master of Arts in 2001, both latter degrees in Indian Studies. For most of her professional career, Danette worked with First Nations institutions as a First Nations civil servant and as an educator at FNUniv in Regina and other schools offering insight on treaties.