MEET THE TEAM

Executive Team

  • Rachel Kiddell-Monroe

    Executive Director

    Rachel Kiddell-Monroe is a lawyer, a humanitarian practitioner and an advocate. She is a Board Director at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a founding President of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and a Professor of Practice at McGill University. Rachel believes putting people and their community first is key to creating a more humane, just, and fair society.

  • Samantha Poncabare

    Executive Assistant

    Samantha Poncabare holds a BA in International Development with a minor in International Relations and Environmental Sciences from McGill University. Previously, Samantha worked in the sales department of a startup, organized a course on Humanitarian Action at the McGill Summer Institute in Global Health and volunteered with SeeChange on fundraising and event planning.

  • Peter Saranchuk

    Medical Director

    Peter Saranchuk is a medical doctor with more than a dozen years of international experience with the humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). In addition to performing HIV-TB clinical work in resource-limited settings, he has worked as a TB-HIV Advisor in MSF’s Southern African Medical Unit. He currently works in a Community Health Centre in southern Ontario.

  • Sumeet Sodhi

    Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator

    Sumeet is a family physician in the Toronto Western Hospital Family Health Team, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and the Academic Lead for the Indigenous Health Partners Program at the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Sumeet has led many global health initiatives, including indigenous health, diabetes, HIV, TB, primary care integration, community-based programming and chronic illness care.

  • Tanya Ayala

    Communications Officer

    A storyteller at heart, Tanya Ayala is a Communications Consultant and holds a BA in Political Science with a minor in Professional Writing from Concordia University. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Paralegal Studies from Conestoga College and is pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Public Relations & Communications Management from McGill University. She previously worked in the private sector as a Sales Manager, Recruiter, and Internal Communications Specialist.

TB Initiative Team

  • Malcolm Ranta

    Local Director

    Malcolm Ranta is the Executive Director of the Ilisaqsivik Society. He also manages the Ittaq Heritage and Research Center and the social enterprise Tukumaaq Incorporated. Malcolm has years of experience working in Nunavut in government and non-profit sectors. He has worked in public health and community development with remote and urban Indigenous communities. Malcolm is also a wannabe weekend hunter.

  • Sheila Enook

    TB Project Coordinator

    Sheila Enook has a business degree from Queen’s School of Business. She worked for the Government of Nunavut as Manager of Finance with Arctic College and Director of Finance for the Department of Health. She is a member of Regional TB Committee. In her free time, Sheila makes traditional hunting equipment and goes out to her cabin or hunting.

COVID-19 Initiative Team

  • Jessica Farber

    Community Readiness Coordinator

    Jessica Farber works with community leaders to organize, prepare and respond to COVID-19 using the CommunityFirst COVID-19 Roadmap. She has experience in outreach, advocacy and project coordination with forced migrants and asylum seekers in Montreal and Mexico. Jessica holds a B.A. in International Development from McGill University.

  • Megan Corbett-Thompson

    Community Readiness Outreach Coordinator

    Megan Corbett-Thompson holds a BSc in Ecological Determinants of Health from McGill University. She has gained diverse experience in protection work, community mobilization and environmental health promotion alongside NGOs in Latin America. Megan is committed to community empowerment and upholding the dignity of all persons.

  • Violeta Chapela

    Medical Advisor for Community Health

    Violeta Chapela is a doctor with humanitarian experience in the areas of sexual violence, migration, sexual and reproductive health, mental health for victims of violence and primary healthcare in exclusion and war zones. Violeta also has an interest in strengthening community networks from a gender perspective.

Board of Directors

  • Denis Blanchette

    President and Treasurer

    Denis Blanchette has spent 30 years bringing community first. He worked with communities in Africa and Latin America. After working at the Supreme Court of Canada, he is now a partner at one of Canada’s leading law firms supporting Indigenous communities. Denis is recognized as a leading practitioner in Indigenous law in Best Lawyers in Canada 2020.

  • Madlen Nash

    Board Secretary

    Madlen Nash holds an Honours BSc in Microbiology and Immunology and an MSc in Epidemiology, both from McGill University. She has led several global health research studies in India and authored academic articles in leading scientific journals. Madlen is a founding member of SeeChange and currently works as a Research and Advocacy Associate at AIDS-Free World.

  • Jasper Monroe-Blanchette

    Member

    Jasper Monroe-Blanchette studies Forestry at Cégep de Chicoutimi. Through his studies, he is working towards getting involved with Indigenous communities in relation to forest management. Jasper loves wild places and finds his calling in mountains and forests. He is a yoga teacher and finds his peace in practicing traditional forms, which include qigong and kung fu as well as yoga.

  • Michelle Osry

    Member

    Over the past 25 years, Michelle Osry has worked across North America, Europe and Africa as an academic and investment banker She is now a partner at Deloitte Canada, where she leads the firm’s Family Enterprise Consulting practice. Michelle is Vice Chair of the Family Enterprise Xchange, a Canadian organization dedicated to empowering enterprising families and their advisors.

  • Carol Devine

    Member

    Carol Devine was a founding member of SeeChange and is a Humanitarian Affairs Advisor with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada. Carol was a 2016 fellow of the Ecologic Institute’s Arctic Summer College. She is a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Humanities Expert Group and a Community Fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research.

Board of Advisors

  • Jennifer Furin

    Dr. Jennifer Furin is an infectious diseases clinician and medical anthropologist who has spent 25 years working to address TB and HIV in vulnerable populations. She is a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and serves as a consultant for a variety of organizations to support person-centered care. She specializes in the care of children with drug-resistant forms of TB.

  • Daniel Solomon

    Daniel Soloman is a businessman and trustee of the Heathside Charitable Trust which is a family charity based in London, United Kingdom. The charity funds projects both in the UK and overseas.

  • Grace Yang

    Grace Yang is the Chief Trouble Maker at TEDxMontrealWomen, curating and encouraging speakers to step outside of their comfort zones to deliver their most compelling talks. She leads a dynamic team of volunteers and fosters a creative culture where everyone can grow together. Previously, Grace worked in the investment industry on both the buy and sell sides of the Street.

  • Stephen Lewis

    Stephen Lewis is co-director of the international advocacy organization AIDS-Free World and co-chair of the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. He has previously served as the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, and as Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

  • Courtney Howard

    Dr. Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Canada’s subarctic, and board President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). She was the first author on the 2017 and 2018 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefings for Canadian Policymakers, as well as being the 2018 International Policy Director for the Lancet Countdown.

  • Jerry Natanine

    Jerry Natanine was born and raised in Clyde River, Nunavut. He has been working with Ilisaqsivik for several years. He completed Ilisaqsivik’s Our Life’s Journey: Inuit Counsellor Training Program. Jerry has held many leadership roles in Clyde River, including Chair of the Hunters and Trappers Organization. Jerry is currently Mayor of Clyde River for a second time.

  • Igah Sanguya

    Igah Sanguya currently sits on the Board of the Ilisaqsivik Society and serves as the Community Health Representative of Clyde River, Nunavut. In the past, Igah has also served on the Board of Directors of Pauktuutit and the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network.

  • Georgia White

    Georgia White is a Strategy and Policy Associate at the international advocacy organization AIDS-Free World. Over the past decade, Georgia has worked in the United States, Cambodia and her home country of Australia as an advocate and policy expert on health and social justice issues.

Interns & Volunteers

  • Béatrice Petitclerc

    Volunteer

    Beatrice is a student in the Law-MBA co-op program at the Université de Sherbrooke, with an interest in humanitarian and environmental issues, as well as Indigenous law. Previously, Beatrice has travelled globally for humanitarian and scientific projects. She completed an internship in Iqaluit through College Sainte-Anne de Lachine, as well as a contract with the Government of Nunavut, focused on long-term health in the region.

  • Emanuelle Lyons

    Communications Intern

    Emanuelle is a recent graduate of McGill University, holding a Graduate Diploma in Public Relations & Communications Management. She also holds a BMus in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia where her passion for communications and storytelling began. A recipient of the McGill Integrated Internship Award, Emanuelle is thrilled for the opportunity to work with SeeChange.

Partners

  • Ilisaqsivik Society

    Community initiated and community-based Inuit organization located in Clyde River, Nunavut. Ilisaqsivik Society is dedicated to promoting community wellness by providing space, resources, and programming that helps families and individuals find healing and develop their strengths. Ilisaqsivik Society is a Canadian registered charity and brings two decades of Inuit-based experience in training and community empowerment.

    Learn more about the Ilisaqsivik Society

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May 01, 2020

Communities are key in the fight against COVID-19 and tuberculosis

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Words byRachel Kiddell-Monroe Sheila Enook
Photos bySeeChange Initiative Clyde River residents

As of today, no case of COVID-19 disease has been reported in Nunavut. This is good news.  But not far away in Nunavik, Quebec, nine cases of COVID-19 disease have been detected. With only limited testing and long delays in getting test results back, concerns about what will happen if COVID-19 reaches Nunavut are well-founded.

Communities in Nunavut are not waiting for the first case of COVID-19 disease to act and are already implementing emergency readiness measures. On 25 March 2020, the Baffin Island Hamlet of Clyde River demanded that the Chief Public Health Officer of Nunavut suspend all passenger flights to their community and provide COVID-19 testing for all. On the same day, the western Nunavut community of Kugaaruk invoked the Hamlets Act to declare a medical state of emergency and banned all passenger air and land travel into the community. Communities understand that the reality of life in Nunavut requires a swift and comprehensive approach to mobilizing against the virus.

From the experience of tuberculosis (TB) and other epidemic diseases, if the virus that causes COVID-19 reaches Nunavut, it could be devastating. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national voice of Canada’s 65,000 Inuit, stresses that Inuit are a high-risk group for respiratory infections and COVID-19. They are nearly 300 times more likely to get TB than any Canadian born, non-indigenous person. While knowledge about COVID-19 disease in TB patients remains limited, it is anticipated that people ill with both TB and COVID-19 may have poorer treatment outcomes, especially if their TB treatment is interrupted.  People who are immunocompromised or who already have lung problems may be even more vulnerable.

Inuit have suffered from social and economic inequalities created by the legacy of colonialism and the ongoing marginalization of communities. This has caused widespread distrust which is a major barrier in addressing infectious diseases like COVID-19 and TB.  Add to this the fact that communities in Nunavut are reachable only by air and have very basic medical care facilities, and it becomes clear that members are at an extreme risk in the face of COVID19.

The reality is that communities need to be engaged and mobilized from the outset of a health crisis. Evidence globally points out that defeating infectious diseases, like COVID-19 and TB, requires the community to drive the response. Reducing the risk of COVID-19 disease amongst TB patients requires decentralized treatment and ‘physically distant’ models of care.

Over the past two years, Ilisaqsivik and SeeChange have developed a unique collaborative community model which recognizes that coordinated public health approaches need to work closely with community leadership to effectively address health and social issues faced by uniquely vulnerable communities. Our Mamisarniq Method is a framework for community-driven health and wellbeing, co-created with the community of Clyde River. Mamisarniq means healing in Inuktituk, and this method ensures that the community has the control, the space and the resources to empower itself to address TB. It can do the same for COVID-19.

Through this partnership, the Clyde River Community held its first Community TB Empowerment Workshop in January 2020. Using narrative therapy, elders began to address their unresolved TB trauma; such trauma impacts health and wellness in Inuit communities and inhibits the family and social support that individuals need to be mentally well.  In a safe space with professional support available, participants were able to address this intergenerational trauma. Elders gained technical knowledge on prevention and treatment of TB and designated themselves as “pijitsitiit” (TB Advocates) for their community. They expressed a desire to bridge the gap between the health centres and their communities.

The World Health Organization advises that we must urgently maintain continuity of essential services for people affected with TB during the COVID-19 pandemic using innovative people-centred approaches. In this spirit, Clyde River is now deploying the Mamisarniq Method to protect itself against COVID-19. Community leaders in Clyde River have:

– developed emergency readiness plans, procured donations of PPE and sourced hygiene materials to assist with infection prevention and control;

– developed collaborations with emergency humanitarian organizations and funders to act on COVID-19 in the event of a case;

– asked for online versions of the Community TB Empowerment Workshops specifically for Inuit communities to be adapted to include the prevention and care of COVID-19. These will be implemented in Inuktitut with terminology adapted to Inuit life and reflect Inuit qaujimajatuqangit (societal values);

– advocated that community members be trained to share in carrying out relevant healthcare tasks, as well as adopting telemedicine and software applications designed for mobile phones that can work in an internet-challenged setting; and

– organized a competition to normalize and incentivize mask wearing.

The Mamisarniq Method consistently and radically puts community at the centre, allowing them to be the owners, leaders and active participants in community health responses. By developing this approach at the “speed of trust”, we have created a unique Canadian North-South collaboration based on principles of dignity, humanity and solidarity.

Globally, communities who are trusted partners at the centre of prevention and containment strategies will win against COVID-19 and TB.  Inuit communities will do the same.