Staff

 

Staff Members

 
Cassandra J. Opikokew Wajuntah
Director
 
Cassandra is from Canoe Lake Cree First Nation and was raised in Meadow Lake in Northern Saskatchewan. She graduated at the top of her class in 2009 from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (BAJ) and a Certificate in Indigenous Communication Arts (INCA). In 2012, she finished her Master's of Public Administration (MPA) where she focused on Indigenous post-secondary education funding. As a PhD candidate in public policy, she was the recipient of a CIHR Doctoral Research Award ($108,000) for her dissertation entitled The Indian Solution to the Policy Problem: Developing an Indigenous Policymaking Model to Address First Nations Health Disparities. She is currently working with Indigenous health organizations in Saskatchewan and Hawai’i to examine how self-determined Indigenous health policymaking models are more effective at improving the health of Indigenous people than Western colonial models. She was most recently a Visiting Scholar at the U of Hawai’i's John A. Burns School of Medicine in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health while she worked with her community partners throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Cassandra served in various roles at the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) from 2010-16 under the late Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew, whom she credits as a pivotal mentor, friend and influence in her work. During her time at IPHRC, Cassandra assisted Dr. Episkenew with the creation of the Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform (IREP) for the Saskatchewan Centre of Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) and the transition of IPHRC to the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. She currently resides in Regina, SK with her husband Justin, a member of Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation, their 6 dogs and their 3 wild toddlers.

 
Tammara Quewezance
Administrative Assistant

Tammara Quewezance is a member of Cote First Nation and was raised in Regina, SK. Prior to taking time away from her studies to raise her son, she was pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration at the First Nations University of Canada. As Administrative Assistant at IPHRC, Tammara supports the day-to-day functioning of the centre and assists the Director. She is an avid reader and also enjoys knitting to pass the time when on the pow wow trail. Tammara resides in Regina with her two-year-old son and her husband, who is a member of the Keeseekoose First Nation.

 
Moses Gordon
Indigenous Research & Engagement Specialist - South

Moses Gordon is from the George Gordon First Nation. He holds a Master's of Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in History, and a Certificate in Economics from the University of Regina. Moses is currently a specialist on the Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform with SCPOR. Prior to working at IPHRC, Moses spent over three years working in research at the First Nations University of Canada. In addition to his professional roles, he also serves on the board of directors for George Gordon Developments Ltd., the economic development arm of the George Gordon First Nation, as well as the Indigenous Advisory Circle at the University of Regina.

As the Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform Specialist housed out of IPHRC's Regina location, Moses is responsible for supporting relationships between health researchers and Indigenous communities in the southern half of the province. Promoting the wellbeing of First Nation communities has consistently remained the underlying passion that drives his career. While his foray into health research is a recent one, he arrived from a multidisciplinary background in research on Indigenous nation rebuilding in respect to business development and governance reform. An avid bookworm, Moses strongly believes that the pen is mightier than the sword.

 
Kirstin Scansen-Isbister
Indigenous Research & Engagement Specialist - North

Kirstin Scansen-Isbister is a nehithaw (Woods Cree) woman from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria. Kirstin’s Masters’ project/thesis focused on traditional Cree leadership and governance, in the context of resisting resource extraction in northern Saskatchewan.

Kirstin is currently a specialist with the Indigenous Research and Engagement Expertise Platform of SCPOR, serving Indigenous communities in the northern half of the province. Kirstin specializes in relationship building and collaboration with Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada. Kirstin sees the inclusion of Indigenous voices in patient-oriented research as essential to the development of respectful and reciprocal relationships in the health care system that foster the spirit and intent of treaty and help to break down colonial relationships of research and health care in the province of Saskatchewan.

In her previous roles, Kirstin has worked to connect Indigenous people and communities to resources in the numerous fields. In 2016 she travelled to Iqaluit, Nunavut to conduct research on environmental sustainability and the incorporation of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in K-12 and post-secondary education on behalf of the Sustainability and Education Policy Network within the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan. Prior to this, Kirstin enjoyed the role of Aboriginal Student Recruitment Officer on behalf of the University of Saskatchewan.

Kirstin travels home to La Ronge and Vancouver frequently to visit her friends and family. Her interests include land-based practices and teachings and the maintenance and revitalization of nehithaw language. Kirstin can often be found hiking, berry picking, camping, canoeing, snowshoeing and fishing on her ancestral nehithaw homelands.