Staff Members

Kirstin Scansen-Isbister
Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform - 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. 

Amanda Crowe
Research Officer

Amanda Crowe is the Research Officer for the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) and Indigenous Research Engagement Expertise Platform with the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research (SCPOR). She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Health Studies with a focus on Indigenous Health in 2017 through the department of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina. Her research interests focus on the delivery of health care for Indigenous Peoples’, cultural safety and awareness for first responders and health care professionals as well as cultural and traditional aspects in health care and treatment. Her past research in this area focused on the gaps in accessibility and quality of health care for Indigenous people, health disparities in First Nations communities and ways to improve Indigenous health with cultural awareness, safety and humility. Prior to joining IPHRC/SCPOR, Amanda was a Paramedic who spent her time working in First Nations communities, the city of Regina and as the Aboriginal Representative for the Emergency Health Care Board at Saskatchewan Polytechnique. She currently resides in Regina with her son Carter and plans to obtain a Master’s in Science or Health Administration.

Cassandra Wajuntah
Associate Director - On Leave
Cassandra J. Opikokew Wajuntah 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) after completing a social impact assessment of the federal funding program for First Nations post-secondary students where she advocated for maximum funding for student recipients of the program. Now, as a PhD candidate in her final year studying Indigenous health and education policy, she has been the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Research Award worth $108,000 dissertation entitled "The Indian Solution to the Policy Problem: Developing an Indigenous Policymaking Model to Address First Nations Health Disparities." Cassandra is 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 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. As Associate Director of IPHRC, she also serves as the Platform Lead for the IREP where she will lead a team of Indigenous researchers tasked with providing support and expertise to SCPOR projects seeking to engage in meaningful and impactful research with Indigenous communities. As Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform Lead, Cassandra brings years of experience building research relationships with Indigenous communities and government, advocating for improved Indigenous health policies and building capacity in Indigenous health research in Canada. She currently resides in Regina, SK with her husband Justin, a member of Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation, and their two sons, Wakinyan and Mahihkan.