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Kristen Jacklin

Associate Director, Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team, University of Minnesota Medical School

Dr. Jacklin is a medical anthropologist specializing in Indigenous health research using community-based participatory research methods. Dr. Jacklin is the Associate Director of the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team – Health Equity and Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Science. Prior to joining the UMN Dr. Jacklin spent 12 years at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Sudbury, ON, where she was appointed as a founding faculty member in 2005. 

Dr. Jacklin has an extensive background in community-based Indigenous health research and health equity. Her research focuses on chronic disease care for Indigenous peoples, including investigations concerning aging; cognitive health and dementia; diabetes; and Indigenous health/medical education. Dr. Jacklin is the founder of the International Indigenous Dementia Research Network and the Indigenous Cognition Awareness and Aging Awareness Research Exchange.

Dr. Kristen Jacklin founded the Indigenous Cognition & Aging Awareness Research Exchange (I-CAARE) in 2015. She is the Guarantor of the I-CAARE website and with the other investigators is responsible for the intellectual development and oversight of the content and structure, and coordination of the interdisciplinary team. Dr. Jacklin is the founder and lead of the International Indigenous Dementia Research Network (IIDRN), and retains responsibility for convening network membership and activities. The I-CAARE and the IIDRN are supported by the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team – Health Equity at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth.

Jennifer Walker


Dr. Walker is a Haudenosaunee/Settler health services researcher. Her research program focuses on Indigenous use of Indigenous health and health services data across the life course, with a focus on older adults. Dr. Walker is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research, a Core Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and a Scientist at the Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada. She holds an Adjunct Assistant Professor appointment at the School for Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, and a Status appointment at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She holds a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Calgary and a BSc in Health Studies from the University of Waterloo.

Carrie Bourassa


Dr. Carrie Bourassa is the Scientific Director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health within the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a faculty member in the Department of Community Health & Epidemiology within the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Previously, she spent over 15 years as a professor of Indigenous health studies in the Department of Indigenous Health, Education and Social Work at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) in Regina.

Dr. Bourassa is a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and a public member of the Royal College Council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

In 2012, Dr. Bourassa won the Wiichihiwayshinawn Foundation Inc. Métis Award in Health and Science. Dr. Bourassa is Métis and belongs to the Riel Métis Council of Regina Inc. (RMCR, Local #34). She earned her Master of Arts degree in political science and Ph.D. in social studies at the University of Regina.

Melissa Blind

Senior Research Associate

Dr. Melissa Blind is Cree and Ukrainian from Gordon's First Nation in Saskatchewan. She holds a PhD in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and a BA honours and MA in Indigenous Studies through First Nations University of Canada in conjunction with the University of Regina.

Melissa is a Senior Research Associate on the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She has been a part of Team 20 since 2014 and works closely with Kristen and Karen. Melissa's research interests include Indigenous understandings of health and wellbeing, including health disparities, Indigenous understandings of neurological conditions, including dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, issues surrounding identity, and oral narratives.

Lynden (Lindsay) Crowshoe


Dr. Lynden (Lindsay) Crowshoe is member of the Pikanni Nation.  He is a family physician and associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), University of Calgary. His research is focused on chronic disease, inequity, health care models and medical education with regards to Indigenous populations. He provides primary care clinical service to the urban Indigenous population of Calgary within the Elbow River Healing Lodge, an Alberta Health Services health centre that he developed.  Two key Indigenous health initiatives within the CSM that Dr. Crowshoe leads are the Undergraduate Medical Education Aboriginal Health Program and the Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement Indigenous Health Dialogue.

Betty McKenna

Project Elder

Elder Betty McKenna is Anishnabe from the Shoal River First Nation  in Opaswayak (The Pas ) Manitoba. She grew up learning many traditional teachings and has spent her life providing guidance, leadership, and generously sharing those teachings with academics, health care professionals, educators and the entire community to create a positive and healthy society.


Betty serves as an Elder in Residence for the Regina Public Schools which takes her to many schools in the division where she makes a tremendous impact each and every time. She provides guidance and counseling to students, families and  staff . She is also a member of Regina public schools Elders Advisory She conducts ceremonies and shares cultural knowledge to help hundreds of children who are thirsting for knowledge about their identities and their cultures.


At the University of Regina Betty has  assisted in the Lifelong Learning Centre to promote the health and well-being of older adults and Aboriginal peoples since 2003. As a resource person she teaches healthcare workers about culturally appropriate ways to work with older Aboriginal peoples in conjunction with the “End of Life Care” video she was involved in producing. In the summer  of 2012 Elder Betty helped complete a series of “Medicine Walks” videos to supplement science and health curricula.   Betty has also worked on the Adult Campus with the Intensive Support Program where the students  develop a positive self concept and are eventually able to enter back into the regular program because of her bridge of knowledge.


Elder Betty is a sessional instructor of Indigenous Health Studies 200 (Traditional Health) at FNUC and has co-developed Kinesiology Health Studies 171 (Holistic Health Studies). Also within the First Nations University of Canada Elder Betty has helped develop the Medicine Room with the intent to encourage youth in the community to spend quality time with Elders.


Elder Betty is someone who gives herself in order to make this world a better place. She has served on many boards and committees , The Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons , Native Women”s Association of Canada, Saskatchewan Prayer breakfast committee and the Saskatchewan Police Commission. Her goal is to create healthier people where we can work together to create a healthy community. Everything she does is with great care and compassion. She is an inspiration to all who come in contact with her. She works tirelessly to preserve the health of the population in Saskatchewan with her incredible work ethic, her giving spirit, and her enduring faith in humanity.


Elder Betty has received many awards such as the Queens Golden Jubilee medal and the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal.

Jerry Otowadjiwan

Project Elder

Jerry Otowadjiwan is a fourth degree Mide, Anishinaabe knowledge holder, teacher, storyteller, singer and Anishinaabemowin language specialist. Embracing a multi-generational, cultural revitalization focus, Jerry’s practice is rooted in his positioning as a Mishomis and chi Mishomis to 7 grandchildren. Jerry’s process also reflects a unique ability to ‘sing worlds into being’ through creatively engaging with protocol, practice and a song’s lineage to protect, support and assist those transitioning. Jerry’s involvement with community rooted organizations has enhanced and re-conceptualized ‘support services’ to include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions. Laurentian University, University of Sudbury and the Wabnode Centre for Aboriginal Services are just a few of the spaces where Jerry has assisted in cultural revitalization and knowledge sharing. Jerry carries the collective knowledge and memory of place embedded in the singing traditions and protocols of Anishinaabe intelligence. His unique process evokes songs as vehicles to create frequencies of kinship and relationality. This urban methodology assists those who may have experiences dislocation to homeland. Jerry also embodies a strong capacity of translating complex thoughts disseminating from Anishinaabe principles and philosophies.


ndoo-nendemowin means "the way my mind is working"

Brock Pitawanakwat


Dr. Brock Pitawanakwat (Anishinaabe – Whitefish River First Nation) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Sudbury.  His current research interests intersect with cultural revitalization and Indigenous concepts of health and wellness. He recently completed a three-year interchange as a Senior Researcher with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He has also held faculty positions at the University of Winnipeg (Manitoba) and First Nations University of Canada (Saskatchewan). In 2009, Brock completed his PhD at the University of Victoria with a dissertation on Anishinaabemowin revitalization.

Karen Pitawanakwat

Community Researcher

Karen is an Anishinaabe Kwe from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Ontario, Canada. She has lived her life in Wikwemikong leaving only to complete her nursing diploma at Cambrian College in 1994. Karen is the mother of two children, grandmother to one, and lives in Wikwemikong with her husband of 29 years. She belongs to the Thunder Bird Clan and is an Anishnaabemowin language speaker. 

Karen has over 25 years’ experience nursing in local First Nations on Manitoulin Island, focusing on care for the elderly. She is on secondment from her position as the Complex Home Care Coordinator for the Nahndahwehtchigeh Gamig (Wikwemikong Health Centre), to act as the community researcher for the Indigenous Cultural Understandings of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias: Research and Engagement (I-CARE) project. Karen has been involved in community-based research projects concerning diabetes, dementia and cancer since 2006.  Her work as a community researcher with First Nations on Manitoulin Island with the Perceptions of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in Diverse Aboriginal Communities in Ontario study (2009-2013) and the Indigenous dementia study in Ontario (2014-2019), which aimed to address quality of life for Indigenous people living with dementia and their caregivers. 

Her commitment to advancing the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people can be seen in her various advisory roles and committee memberships. She has served continuously on the Wiwemikong Health Centre Diabetes Advisory Committee since 2005 and has served on the Manitoulin Hospice Palliative Care Working Group, the North East Hospice Palliative Care Steering Committee, and is an active member of the International Indigenous Dementia Research Network.  

Laura Warren


Laura Warren began her doctoral studies in epidemiology at the University of Toronto in September 2012. Her doctoral research focus is on dementia among Indigenous populations in Ontario. Laura completed her honours Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Guelph with a major in biology and a minor in statistics. Her MSc degree in epidemiology was also completed at the University of Guelph. Her master's thesis focused on cattle transportation. She also holds a MA degree in statistics from York University. Laura has worked in pharmaceutical research and HIV research at Women's College Hospital and at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network as a research coordinator for the “The Current State of the HIV Epidemic Among Indigenous People in Ontario”.

Wayne Warry

Principal Investigator

Dr. Wayne Warry is a medical anthropologist with 25 years of experience working in social and health related projects in First Nations and urban communities throughout Ontario, including Manitoulin and the North Shore Tribal Council regions. He has experience in program design, community based training, evaluation research, needs assessments, policy research, advocacy and cross cultural awareness training. Dr. Warry’s current research, with Kristen Jacklin, Associate Professor, Human Sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, concerns the cultural construction of Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias and caregiving in Aboriginal communities in Ontario. He recently travelled to Australia with Kristen Jacklin, Jennifer Walker and Karen Pitawanakwat to begin collaborations with colleagues around the use of the Kimberly Indigenous Cognitive Assessment in rural and urban communities and its potential for adaptation to Aboriginal communities in Ontario. Dr. Warry is also Director of CRaNHR,  an interdisciplinary research centre with faculty investigators, affiliated investigators and research staff from various disciplines including economics, epidemiology, gerontology, kinesiology, medicine, nursing, social work and sociology.  He leads a team of Faculty and staff researchers on a major Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Health Systems Research Fund program of research titled “Health Equity for Northern Ontarians: Applied Health Research with Vulnerable Populations” and also is part of the MOHLTC- CIHR Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR).

Jessica Koski

Research Associate

Jessica Koski, MHSc is the Research Associate of the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team (MDT) – Health Equity. She supports Drs. Jacklin, Warry and Blind with various research projects focused on Indigenous dementia in the United States and Canada. Jessica also provides web design and maintenance services for and  Jessica has an undergraduate degree in Marketing with a double minor in Business Administration and Economics.  She also has a master’s degree in Health Sciences with Specialization in Gerontology from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Jessica’s thesis focused on improving the palliative care journey with First Nation’s community members in Northwestern Ontario.  She has partnered with Indigenous communities and assisted with community-based participatory research for over eight years.  Prior to social and behavioral research, Jessica worked in many other aspects of research, including clinical research, institutional ethics, integrated medical research information systems, and marketing research and development. 

Rhonda Trudeau

Community Research Assistant

Rhonda Trudeau, from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, is our Community Research Assistant. She also works in finance and admin support at the health centre. She has been a vital part of Team 20 for a year, assisting our Community Researcher, Karen Pitawanakwat. While supporting Team 20, Rhonda has enjoyed connecting with neighbouring community members, our advisory group, and our expert Anishinaabe language speakers.

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