MEET THE TEAM

Executive Team

  • Rachel Kiddell-Monroe

    Founder and 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.

  • Violeta Chapela

    Medical Advisor and Program Lead

    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.

  • Sumeet Sodhi

    Medical Director and 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.

  • Bayan Alabda

    Executive Assistant

    Bayan holds a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering and is now pursuing her second degree in psychology at Concordia University. She is the Executive Assistant at SeeChange, where she provides administrative, financial, and operational support to the team. Bayan is interested in researching war trauma, family violence, and its effects on memory and daily life. Her goal is to complete her education and earn a PHD in the field so that she can support marginalized communities.

  • Jasmine Cumetti

    D-DEI Lead

    Jasmine Cumetti holds a B. Comm. in organizational behaviour and psychology from McGill University and is currently completing a M. Sc. in International Business at HEC. Jasmine coordinates efforts to foster decoloniality within the organization. She believes that an inquisitive and introspective process of decolonizing our minds is an important first step in becoming an agent of change and cultivating a society which is truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive at its core.

Canadian Initiatives Team

  • Naomi Tatty

    Intercultural Health Lead

    Naomi Tatty, from Iqaluit, Nunavut, was nominated “Inuit Woman of the Year” because of her tireless volunteer work assisting Inuit families in need across Canada and advocacy for Inuit culture and wellbeing. Fluent in Inuktitut and English, Naomi, is a strong advocate on the issue of tuberculosis in Inuit communities. Naomi is also well known by community members for organizing fundraisers to assist with the cost of travel and funeral expenses for those who have lost a loved one. Naomi proudly helps to keep Inuit culture strong by sharing her skills in sewing and the Inuktitut language. When asked what advice Naomi had for other Inuit women, she said, “Always give a helping hand and treat people with respect.”

  • Dawit Yimam

    Canada Program Lead

    Dawit was born and raised in Ethiopia, Eastern Africa, and is a public health and emergency management professional with a double master’s degree in public health (MPH) and Disaster and Emergency Management and more than 15 Years of working experience in Public Health and Emergency Management Programs in different organizations including World Health Organization (WHO), Bill and Melinda gates Foundation, Save The Children and Canadian Red Cross in different parts of the world mainly in Africa and Southeast Asia. Dawit used to work for First Nation Health Authority in Northern Ontario as an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator which gives me a perspective and deep understanding of the history and culture of indigenous communities in Canada.

  • Samantha Poncabare

    TB Project Lead

    Samantha holds a Bachelor in International Development from the University of McGill, Montreal, Canada. She has been working at SeeChange since 2020, bringing executive, admin, finance, fundraising and operational support as the Executive Assistant. Building on this experience, she recently stepped into the role of Project Coordinator, co-leading the Tuberculosis initiative in Nunavut, Canada.

  • Malcolm Ranta

    Local Director

    Malcolm Ranta is the Executive Director of Ilisaqsivik Society. He is also Director of Operations for 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.

Global Initiatives Team

  • Jessica Farber

    Project Lead and Community Readiness Coordinator

    Jessica Farber is leading SeeChange project with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), piloting the CommunityFirst approach in vulnerabilised communities globally. She works with community leaders and institutional partners to organise, prepare and respond to health crises. She also 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

    CommunityFirst Fellow and Project 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. She holds a fellowship from York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR).

Board of Directors

  • Huguette Ekambi Mbella

    President

    Huguette Ekambi Mbella is a global citizen – Cameroon-born, Paris-educated, Washington DC-based – with deep expertise in governance, risk management, and control functions. She is pursuing a distinguished career at the International Finance Corporation (IFC, member of the World Bank Group) and has served profit and not-for-profit international finance institutions across Europe and North America. Ms. Mbella is passionate about unlocking human potential, expanding financial inclusion, and all things Art related.

  • Denis Blanchette

    Director

    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.

  • Carol Devine

    Director

    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.

  • Yves Abanda

    Director

    Yves is a French-Cameroonian McGill graduate from a Liberal Sciences Bachelors in Physics and Environment. Among his current interests are sustainable self-determination, colonization of the mind, deep adaptation, food sovereignty, energy transition, alternative and popular education, low tech, and modes of governance compatible with collective intelligence. He co-founded SymBioSyn in 2017 with some fellow students that shared his passion to find ways to live well together. Currently, he works at the University du Nous to learn more about Shared Governance methods.

  • Michelle Osry

    Director

    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.

  • Jasper Monroe-Blanchette

    Director

    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.

Board of Advisors

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • James Orbinski

    James Orbinski is professor and Director of York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. As a medical doctor, a humanitarian practitioner, a best-selling author, and a global health scholar, Dr. Orbinski believes in actively engaging and shaping our world so that it is more just, fair, and humane.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Partners & Collaborators

  • Ilisaqsivik Society

    Community Partner

    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

  • Pathy Family Foundation

    Funding Partner

    The Pathy Family Foundation (PFF) is Canadian foundation that works to build vibrant communities and promote equal opportunities for all. PFF invests in people, organizations and ideas that empower marginalized groups in Canada and globally. PFF is partnering with SeeChange and Ilisaqsivik Society to run a program based on trauma-informed TB empowerment activities in Inuit communities across Nunavut.

    Learn more

  • Government of Nunavut Department of Health

    Government Partner

    In partnership with SeeChange, the GN Department of Health is developing strategies to enable communities to develop autonomy and ownership of their health outcomes as part of their goal is to improve health outcomes and decrease health inequity by increasing Inuit involvement in and ownership of public health strategies in Nunavut.

    Learn more

  • MSF Transformational Investment Capacity (TIC)

    Institutional Partner

    Building on and complementing already existing Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders (MSF) community engagement initiatives, SeeChange is adapting the CommunityFirst framework to create a model for MSF that meaningfully involves communities at every phase of the project cycle, including handover and emergency preparedness. Currently piloting in indigenous communities in Peru and Sierra Leone.

    Learn more

  • Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI)

    Government Partner

    SeeChange has partnered with CFLI, ECO-RE and the Lenca Women of Reitoca to strengthen and empower women’s leadership to improve the COVID-19 response and recovery in Reitoca, Honduras through skills development workshops, feminist leadership training, knowledge sharing, and mental health support.

    Learn more

  • University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine

    Academic Partner

    SeeChange is a proud recipient of the COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Impact Grant Program (Co-RIG) with the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine, a research grant to investigate the outcomes of the CommunityFirst COVID-19 Roadmap to create a CommunityFirst Toolkit for Indigenous communities in Canada to adopt and adapt.

  • Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR), York University

    Academic Partner

    The DIGHR has partnered with SeeChange to advance research on CommunityFirst responses and how they are contributing to the global health and humanitarianism research agenda.

    Learn more

  • Mitacs

    Academic Partner

    SeeChange is partnering with Mitacs to develop a Decolonisation, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework.

    Learn more

  • McGill Summer Institute in Infectious Diseases and Global Health

    Academic Partner

    SeeChange is hosting a seminar course on Decolonising Humanitarian Action at the McGill Summer Institute in Infectious Diseases and Global Health.

    Learn more

  • University Los Andes

    Academic Partner

    SeeChange is hosting seminars on Global Health and CommunityFirst responses at University Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia.

    Learn more

  • lululemon Here to Be

    Funding Partner

    SeeChange is a proud recipient of the Here to Be grant, lululemon’s social impact program that disrupts inequity in wellbeing through movement, mindfulness, and advocacy.

    Learn more

  • Power Corporation of Canada

    Funding Partner

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Dec 01, 2021

Walking the talk: 10 ways to decolonise global health partnerships

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AuthorsDr Teresa Bonyo, Rachel Kiddell-Monroe, Jessica Farber, Dr Germán Casas

A much needed discussion on decolonising global health is finally taking place with more urgency, in Canada and globally. There is a recognition that the global health system is built on a colonial structure resulting in widespread injustices shown so starkly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Structural racism is a pillar of the colonial system. But it is not enough to just decolonise; we need to co-create and build a new way forward based on diverse, equitable and inclusive representation, participation and action.

Four global health activists from diverse backgrounds spoke about how to decolonise global health partnerships during the Canadian Conference on Global Health in November 2021. 

Here are the 10 ways they propose:

1. Be antiracist

“It’s not enough to not be racist; be antiracist!”

Dr Teresa Bonyo, echoing the words of Angela Y. Davis

Dr Bonyo, Medical Doctor and Public Health Specialist, made it clear that to have substantive change we need to address the institutional and structural racism that is embedded in most organisations, address ongoing white saviourism, and embrace humanity, dignity and inclusiveness. In addition to acknowledging racism, being antiracist means taking action. Individuals and institutions need to actively invest in education and learning targeted towards understanding racism and discrimination. Organisations should review policies and procedures that could promote racism and discrimination, but in addition critically look at affirmative actions that will help to foster inclusion. Dr Bonyo further reiterated that it’s not about the number of People of Colour that an organisation hires, but where they are placed in the organisation. What do they earn in comparison with white counterparts? Organisations should also work towards eliminating tiers and categorization of staff that perpetuate discrimination and inequality. More efforts towards eliminating unconscious bias in recruitments and evaluations should be made whilst ensuring equitable access to benefits regardless of background. 

2. Mind your language

“In order to decolonize we must critically look at terminology that is loosely used or deeply entrenched.”

Dr Teresa Bonyo

Some of the terminology used are demeaning and disrespectful, while others are openly derogatory.  Terminology can also perpetuate othering (us versus them) and fail to foster equal and respectful partnerships. Examples include: third world, field, vulnerable, beneficiaries, recipients, local, expatriate, ground, etc. The issue is not necessarily in the words themselves, but the stereotypes and power dynamics that lie behind them. We must ask ourselves whether the words we are using actually recognize people’s agency or merely dehumanize? We need to start using new or adapted words that actually empower, that bring out people’s inherent strengths.

3. Decentralise

“Proximity is key.”

Dr Germán Casas, Medical Doctor, Professor at the University of Los Andes and President of Médecins Sans Frontières Latin America.

Dr Casas explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated once again the importance of decisions being made where operations are based. At present, most humanitarian organisations have their headquarters in Europe or North America. This distance privileges a response created outside of the context focusing on expediency and western practices. Being close to the locus of the crisis opens space for culturally appropriate responses, innovation and respect for local knowledge and ways of doing.  Western partners need to have local branches that must also be well resourced to perform efficiently and effectively. They have to acknowledge that local actors have important strengths including ensuring fast response and access, quality, acceptance, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability through longevity and knowledge footprints.

4.  Diversify governance  

“We need a paradigm shift. If we want to truly decolonize, we need to move away from seeing communities as passive recipients of aid and start involving them at the inception and operation of all projects. ”

Dr Germán Casas

Most organisational governing boards are not representative of the communities they purport to serve. Dr Casas called on organisations to acknowledge the importance of diversity in governance– better decisions, especially in terms of strategy, approaches and direction, are made when varied perspectives are sought and included. Boards of directors should ensure Black and Indigenous People as well as People of Colour are not only present but also coming into spaces that allow open and meaningful dialogue as well as an equal decision-making responsibility and role. 

5. “He who pays the piper, calls the tune”

“Partnering with local organisations is essential, but effective and decolonised partnership means ensuring that local actors can access funds directly to carry out the work which is critical to promoting the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian aid.”

Dr Germán Casas

There is a concentration of wealth and aid money in the Global North and decisions about how those should be spent are taken by western donors and western organisations. Both Drs Casas and Bonyo stressed that the practice of untenable bureaucratic standards imposed by  western donors to transfer financial resources to stakeholders must end. “This has to change,” said Dr Casas. “To decolonise partnerships, we need to decolonise funding.” This will shift power and responsibility to local actors in responding to the crises. “Large international humanitarian NGOs should no longer consider local NGOs as service providers or proxies, but as fully-fledged partners to pass the baton to and redefine their social mission in this sense,” said Dr Bonyo.

6. Meet communities where they are

“We have to be open to hearing and understanding the priorities of communities, and not just assume that the priorities we hold will be the same for them.”

Jessica Farber, Community Readiness Coordinator, SeeChange

We need to listen deeply, take time, beware of imposing external worldviews and mindsets. Farber spoke about the importance of recognising intersectionality, from the nature of the crises to the identities of individuals and communities affected. The most vulnerabilized communities are at the intersection of multiple crises: the climate crisis, future global pandemics, water and food insecurity, and infectious diseases, as well as poverty and conflict.  Meeting communities where they are also means recognizing the trauma– both historical and present– that communities are facing as a result of these compounding crises, and as a result of racism and colonisation.

7. Adopt a strengths-based mindset

“We need to support communities to amplify solutions that mobilize their own traditional knowledge, their historical memory, their special skills, community networks and organisations.”

Jessica Farber

Communities have strengths and assets that can be leveraged for more effective, sustainable and empowering humanitarian action. Utilizing strengths-based approaches, as opposed to viewing people living through humanitarian crises from a deficit standpoint, can unlock those inherent capabilities and improve the efficacy of humanitarian emergency response. This means recognizing that the solutions are within the communities themselves.  When communities are using their own skills and assets, they will feel a greater sense of ownership over their health crisis responses, and these responses will be more likely to be sustainable and adaptable to future crises.

 

8. Be accountable to communities

“Using a strength-based approach requires humanitarian and global health interventions to become accountable to communities and not to numbers required by donors.”

Jessica Farber

The measures of success are the health and social impacts that the community values and sees, not what the organisation or donor expected to see. Being accountable to communities also means prioritizing sustainability, rather than having a short-term, project-based view.

9. Adopt a feminist leadership lens

“To achieve paradigm shifts in the way we partner with communities and local organisations, practicing intersectional feminist leadership is key.”

Jessica Farber

This focuses on centring care, healing and compassion. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has meant focusing on self-care and emotional wellness with the community leaders with whom we have been working at SeeChange. We also work to build networks of solidarity and mutual accompaniment.” Embracing feminist leadership also means nurturing and supporting women and girls as leaders in health crisis response.

10. Reimagine humanitarian action

“We need to reimagine humanitarian action. We need to open ourselves to change. And that change needs to be now!”

Rachel Kiddell-Monroe, Founder and Executive Director, SeeChange

Other contributors to the CCGH 2021, including Seye Abimbola, Catherine Kyobutungi, Pamela Roach and Thoko Elphick-Pooley also spoke about the importance of acknowledging racism and colonialism in the global health system and the steps we need to take to address it. We need to be open to moving away from the traditional humanitarian principle of neutrality and instead highlighting the central tenets of the humanitarian principle of humanity: equity, diversity and inclusion. Together we need to reimagine what aid will look like. It is not about tweaking the current system. It is about seeing a whole new way of doing.