Our Research Leaders
Elder Betty McKenna
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.
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.
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.
Dawn Martin Hill
(Mohawk, Wolf Clan) Dawn holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and is one of the original founders of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. She recently accepted a position as the Paul R. McPherson Indigenous Studies Chair. She was appointed to the CIHR - College of Reviewers and Indigenous advisory committee. Her primary research for over two decades is working with youth and overall her research includes: environmental – water and community health research, focus on governance, gender equity and spiritual traditions, traditional medicine and well-being, Indigenous Knowledge and ways of knowing methodologies and pedagogy. She is a PI Co-Creation of Indigenous Water Quality Tools for Global Water Futures, 950g water security and climate change in Indigenous communities highlights diverse challenges identified by Indigenous Peoples in obtaining clean water. She is co-investigator on a second GWF grant, The co-creation of tools for monitoring ecosystem and health data, water governance and culturally relevant tools to build long-term and sustained community capacity through training and certifying Indigenous youth in sustaining water quality monitoring. Indigenous knowledge leads the four teams. Numerous Indigenous communities, organizations are collaborators and will stand to benefit from the collaborative methodologies and pedagogies of integrating western and Indigenous knowledge, expertise in creating tools to be gained, shared and sustained through this project.
Megan E. O’Connell
Megan is a registered doctoral clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan who practices in the area of geriatric neuropsychology, remote interventions for dementia care, and remote specialist to primary care support for appropriate dementia care. Accessibility of appropriate services and supports is core to her research program, as is use of technology to facilitate accessibility. She is collaborating on the Canadian Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (CICA), a community co-designed cognitive screening tool that has been translated into numerous Indigenous languages and validity testing is underway. Dr. O’Connell is the NPA of Team 15 Rural and is a co-I on Team 18 Indigenous in Phase II of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. Dr. O’Connell is clinical lead of the Rural and Remote Memory Clinic (RRMC) and is lead of the newly developed RRMC interventions (RRMCi) with a mandate to deliver appropriate dementia related interventions across SK. Part of the RRMCi includes with mentorship and co-design with the team at the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) to develop culturally safe remote interventions. In AGE-WELL project, we collaborate with the FHQTC explore how technology can be used to support behavioral interventions to help manage comorbidities with dementia, such as diabetes and dementia.