Regional Recruitment Coordinator (RRC) & Community Steering Council (CSC) Member Bios
Community Steering Council (CSC)
The Community Steering Council is made up of 10 people from across Canada who have lived experience, knowledge and/or expertise with childbearing families from different circumstances, backgrounds, and identities, particularly with communities whose voices are seldom heard.
Since 2018, the CSC members have worked closely with clinicians, policymakers, community agency leaders, and researchers from different disciplines to co-create RESPCCT Study. They stand for the rights of pregnant and childbearing people to ensure their voices and interests are represented in research studies, public information packages, health services and health policies. In the spirit of “nothing about us without us”, they are the deciders for this study. Their leadership and direction is key to identifying topics that are important to their communities, and questions that are relevant and important to capture their varied experiences as well as the use of inclusive, respectful language. They will join the Regional Recruitment Coordinators, the community pilot testers, and the knowledge keepers of their communities as we continue through collecting information, interpreting the findings, and telling the stories.
Regional Recruitment Coordinators (RRC)
The Regional Recruitment Coordinators come from different provinces across Canada with knowledge and connections with communities in urban, rural and remote regions of Canada.
In Spring of 2020, 18 Regional Recruitment Coordinators joined the RESPCCT Study team. They have a crucial role in community outreach and promoting study participation in their local regions. They work closely with the Birth Place Lab Community Engagement Coordinators to expand on existing networks, support people to access the survey, and identify new community partners. Please contact your RRC for more information about how to contribute your stories to the RESPCCT study.
Shehlina Arshad, RRC
Shehlina is a Regional Coordinator for the Birth Place Lab. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from SFU, with a focus on health research, social equity, health ethics, and social innovation. She describes herself as a "global citizen", using lived experience in the Middle East, South Asia, and across North America to innovate equitable, sustainable, and culturally competent community and research initiatives. She has spearheaded multiple community initiatives with the City of Surrey, SFU, and Fraser Health, as well as founded her own inclusive organization, Femininiteas, to foster local discourse and skill-building with and for self-identifying women in Vancouver. In her previous role as a Healthcare Data Analyst at Fraser Health, she performed quality improvement and surveillance measures for 12 acute care hospitals in the Fraser region, and championed patient empowerment, health services collaboration, and engagement. She is an active advocate for transparency and compassion within all sectors of the healthcare system, from laboratory to policy. Shehlina is thrilled to contribute towards facilitating safe and respectful maternity care, and be a part of the Birth Place Lab team.
Amanda Cole, RRC
Amanda is excited to join the RESPCCT study as Regional Recruitment Coordinator for PEI. In 2018, Amanda received her MEd in Educational Leadership with an additional designation in Inclusive Education. She currently works at the University of Prince Edward Island as the university’s Accessibility Support Facilitator. Although most of Amanda’s professional experience is in the area of accessibility, she is eager for the opportunity to work in a new field of study.
As a new mother, she is interested and knowledgeable in pre and post-natal care in her province. She is looking forward to connecting with other mothers to encourage them to share their experiences. Amanda is enthusiastic about the RESPCCT study and the opportunity to work with community partners to create a better experience for mothers and their families across the country
Isabelle Dena, RRC
Isabelle Dena is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. Her current research interests are in maternal and newborn health, exploring newcomer mothers' experiences of the maternity care system in Saskatchewan. Isabelle is passionate about community-based participatory research, patient-engagement, and qualitative research methods. She holds an undergraduate degree in Community Development and a Master's in Social Work. With more than 13 years of experience as a social worker, Isabelle has worked with various non-profit agencies in the United States and Canada, providing services in underrepresented communities. She has worked predominantly with mothers and their children from immigrant and indigenous communities, as well as mothers living in inner-city neighborhoods. Her work experiences involved engaging in community-based mental health therapy work, parenting education, attachment education, community development and program planning while utilizing a trauma-informed care approach.
Isabelle is passionate about improving maternity care experiences for immigrant women as well as advocating for their health care needs. In doing so, she continues to build on-going relationships with various communities employing humility, respect, patience, honesty, transparency and openness to learn from people in their communities, realizing that she is not the expert, but they are.
Alyse Duffney, CSC
As a proud Mi'kmaq women, my work is devoted to the revitalization of Aboriginal Leadership in the Atlantic Canadian Region. I recently graduated from the University of New Brunswick faculty of Renaissance College with a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies and am now the Communications/ Outreach Coordinator with Under One Sky Friendship Centre, an active member of the Council of Corporate Aboriginal Relations, and Board Member with Greater Fredericton Social Innovation. Three fun facts: I am a certified wilderness first aid responder and KAIROS Blanket Exercise Facilitator, and was awarded "Worlds Best Mom" by my son Gavin.
Gabrielle Griffith, CSC, RRC
Gabrielle Griffith (they/them) is a queer and non-binary parent, full spectrum doula, sex educator and Program Coordinator for the 2SLGBTQIA Family Programming with Birth Mark Support.
Through lived experience and education they support new parents to find pleasure and achieve balance during their transition into parenthood.
Gabrielle teaches a variety of topics through an anti-oppressive and trauma informed lens.
You can find out more about Gabrielle and their work on their website and social media.
Karen Hodge, CSC
Karen Hodge is a Registered Clinical Social Worker and a woman with a spinal cord injury sustained at the T1 level at the age of 15. She is the mother of two young children (both conceived and born post spinal cord injury) and an active volunteer in her community. Karen is a founding member of the Spinal Cord Injury Perinatal Interest Group; a collaborative research, awareness and education partnership with representatives from GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, BC Women's Hospital, Spinal Cord Injury BC, ICORD, Praxis Spinal Cord Institute and women with lived experience. This collaborative group strives to bridge gaps that currently exist in access, knowledge and collaborative care to improve the experiences of women with spinal cord injury who are considering pregnancy and parenthood.
Stephanie Jhala, CSC
Stephanie Jhala is a multidisciplinary force in the realm of business, social impact and leadership. As the founder of A Mother’s Movement, her programs and offerings empower mothers and primary care givers through deeply connected and healing community. The ultimate vision is to activate maternal power, honour the true value of motherhood, rise up to positions of leadership, close the gender gap, and restore balance to the planet.
Kim Katrin, CSC
Kim Katrin is an internationally acclaimed award winning educator, writer, artist & consultant. Recognized stateside as one of The Root's' Young Feminists to Watch', celebrated in Canada as 2016’s National Youth Role Model. Based in Toronto, born in Trinidad. Person of colour, mixed race, afrolatina, and a mum to a trilingual 2 year old.
With a Joint honors anthropology & history, minor in philosophy, she is passionate about black women's maternal mortality and accessibility to compassionate healthcare for women of colour.
Sarah Landry, RRC
Sarah was born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia—where she still calls home. She graduated with her B.Ed in 2009, but between the birth of her daughter in 2014 and her son in 2017, she shifted gears and trained as a birth doula (DONA), became a certified childbirth educator (Lamaze), and a certified infant massage instructor. In early 2019, her dream of reaching and teaching perinatal families was realized with the birth of her little business: Belle Vie Birth & Baby. When she is not with her family or teaching classes, she works as the on-site educator for EPIC, an award-winning non-profit established in 1996 (https://www.epiccharity.com/). EPIC’s ‘Youth Peer Program’ services at-risk youth through a weekly mentoring and tutoring program made possible by an amazing staff, volunteers, and generous donors. Sarah is thrilled to further reach her community and advocate for positive maternity care as part the RESPCCT Study’s Regional Coordinator team.
Lisa Lyta, RRC
My name is Lisa Lyta. I was born and raised in Iqaluit, NU. Assisting the Birth Place Lab to connect with local communities in Nunavut. I am a Public Servant of the Government of Canada in the Human Resources Branch. Mother of three children and a active member in my community. I have been honoured to be apart of a local program that offers community members support and resources in fertility, pregnancy, birth, labour amd postpartum support. The program Uumati, is offered by a Traditional Inuit Midwifery, and a Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula.
I am very happy to be apart of the Birth Place Lab research and will continue to support these values in my community.
Kate Macdonald, Collaborator, RRC
Kate Macdonald (she/her) is an aspiring researcher and parent of two young children. Since the birth of her first child, Kate has been immersed in the world of patient advocacy, accepting opportunities to speak and lead community workshops on the topic of obstetric violence and respectful trauma-informed perinatal healthcare. Her work is influenced by her own interactions with the healthcare system and lived experience as a trauma survivor.
In addition to her advocacy work, Kate has spent time as a personal care attendant for adults with physical disabilities, an arts and music instructor for kids, and an end-of-life care volunteer at a residential hospice.
Kate has been a collaborator on the RESPCCT Study team since November 2018, and is excited to move into the RRC role. She looks forward to connecting with community members and organizations throughout Ontario, including those in Toronto, where she now lives with her family.
Ariane K. Métellus, CSC, RRC
Ariane K. Métellus is a social entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, birth worker and studies sociology at UQAM bachelor's degree in sociology. Ariane K is passionate about the helping relationship, perinatality and women's health. She is president of the Regroupement Naissances-Respectées (Naissance-Renaissance) and is a member of the board of directors of the association Vivre 100 fibromes. She is the Regional Recruitment Coordinator for the province of Quebec and sits on the steering council committee of The RESPCCT Study (Research Examining Stories of Pregnancy and Childbearing in Canada Today) at UBC's Birth Place Lab and on the steering committee of La CORPS féministe.
Her background has led her to examine the importance we give to the experience of more marginalized women, particularly black and racialized women in Quebec's health care system, specifically concerning sexual and reproductive health and during the perinatal period.
Through her work, she hopes to raise awareness, inform and support these women, assert their rights to all those who work closely or remotely with them, and participate in the recognition of the various issues that concern them by institutions and the various communities affected by these realities.
Above all, she is a wife and mother of four beautiful children!
Her work is rooted in love!
Madeleine Nickerson, RRC
Erin O’Reilly, RRC
Erin is a Registered Nurse, doula, childbirth educator and entrepreneur located in St.John’s Newfoundland. Her passion for birthwork began 20 years ago with the preparation for her first baby. Over the past 2 decades, she has sought to deepen her understanding of the complexities of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. With over 10 years experience as a midwifes assistant and doula, she has supported a diverse range of families through the birth process. Erin is also the Chair of the Doula Collective of Newfoundland & Labrador and a member of the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Erin is driven help promote equity in maternity care so that everyone regardless of identified gender, religion, income, ethnicity, location and physical characteristics can have a positive birth experience. She believes that the RESPCCT study will reveal results that could have the power to create real positive change in maternal care in Canada and beyond. Excited to promote this study, she looks forward to connecting with providers and birthing people over the coming months.
In her spare time, Erin enjoys hiking, photography, exploring her home province and beyond.
Ananya Parasor, RRC
Ananya is a recent graduate from the Health Sciences program at University of Calgary.
She is a strong advocate for equity and transparency in the healthcare setting, with
people being provided the whole gamut of options when having to make a personal
health decision, or on behalf of another person as a surrogate decision maker. She is
very vocal in pushing for quality healthcare for the different demographics in Calgary
and always looks forward to being exposed to new perspectives on contentious issues
in the health, wellbeing and medical sectors. She is looking forward to bridging the gap
between the education gained from her degree and hands-on experience in promoting
active, patient-centred care, all the while working alongside her peers. She has
extensive experience working with different high-risk marginalized populations both in a
professional and personal capacity. She is a polyglot that speaks 5 languages which
have allowed her to connect with individuals and groups on a personal level. She is very
passionate about maternal and newborn health and has worked with partners abroad in
Uganda, Tanzania and China.
Elyse Peasley, RRC
Harlie Pruder, RRC
Harlie is a sexual health and reproductive justice advocate based in Northern Manitoba. She is passionate about improving the quality of life in her home province of Manitoba. She believes in a holistic approach to health that promotes individuals as the experts of their own healthcare. She wants to empower people to tell their stories and to ensure that Manitoban voices are represented in all arenas. As a Queer Metis person, Harlie believes that an intersectional and intergenerational lens is always necessary in her social justice advocacy.
Muriel Scott, RRC
Tansi (Hi), my name is Muriel Scott, an aboriginal cree woman from Pimicikamak better known as Cross Lake, Manitoba. I am mother of 4 and grandma of 4. I speak cree fluently. I am a hard worker and gets work done fast. I am a lead Doula for the Indigenous Doula Program for Pimicikamak (Cross Lake) Doula Program. I am very familiar with research programs and Maternal Child Health Program in my community. I am willing to work more with others and to what our community needs in our communities. I am very excited to learn more about this program. Ekosi (Thank you)!!!
Celina Solís, RRC
Celina is a Spanish native speaker born in Mexico, who is currently doing her PhD in Food Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is also competent in English and French, and she is trained in qualitative research methodologies.
Celina is very passionate about serving as a bridge between vulnerable populations and decision makers. She is an innate listener who enjoys by respectfully hearing other peoples’ stories, opinions and perspectives as a way to empower societies in the general decision and evaluation processes that involve them.
In addition, Celina is proud of her cultural background and keen to support any efforts in favor of Hispanic and Latin heritage communities. She has several years of experience working in multidisciplinary research in support of the acknowledgement and appreciation of the role of women, small farmers, Indigenous people.
As a researcher and as an experienced mother committed with improving the quality of pregnancy and birth experiences for all families, Celina is very excited to contribute to this project and be part of the RESPCCT team.
Hollie Turner, RRC
Hollie Turner (She/Her) is a mother of two young children and is passionate about collaborative, community centered approaches to research that support, empower and enhance the ability for individuals to respond to and define local needs. She believes in the power of narrative and story-telling and has spent most of her career participating in qualitative research approaches and supporting social policy development. She seeks to create space and opportunities for first voice wherever possible.
With over ten years experience in conducting research and evaluation, she is particularly passionate about working with diverse and underrepresented populations. Having worked primarily in public health and health promotion, much of her work experience is in promoting and advancing health equity for all in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.
Hollie is currently on maternity leave from her job as a research and evaluation consultant for Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness. She has firsthand and recent experience with midwifery care and appreciates the importance of respectful maternity care.
Alieen Wang, CSC
Karolina Wenzel, CSC, RRC
Karolina is a mother of two children under 5. Her experiences of being pregnant in a very remote location, as well as two remarkable birth experiences in which she felt empowered and respected led to Karolina’s heightened interest in the childbearing experience. After beginning to speak with other women in her personal circle about birth and pregnancy, Karolina has found a passion for this topic and a desire to make a positive difference in this field. With a background in Biology and Environmental Studies, she has worked in a variety of settings, mostly social and educational. After running a remote branch of the Yukon non-profit organization Yukon Council on disABILITY in Dawson City for several years, Karolina worked in Adult Education for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse until her current maternity leave.
She currently resides in Northern BC with her husband, both children and two dogs.
Karolina has been a member of the Steering Council for the RESPCCT study since February of 2019 and is very excited at the opportunity of becoming more involved in this research in her role as Regional Coordinator for the Yukon, NWT and Northern BC.
Samantha Whitman, RRC
Samantha Whitman (she/her) is a passionate birth worker and mother to a very curious and active toddler. She is originally from Nova Scotia and has been living in Newfoundland for over 10 years, completing her BSc at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She worked as a paramedic for over 11 years, but was ready for a change and become a Labour and Birth Doula, paving the way for doulas in Central Newfoundland. She has worked on numerous committees, including the working group to return midwifery care to the province as well as the Baby Friendly Initiative for Central Health. She has also started a La Leche League group in Central Newfoundland to continue building resources and supports for families in her community. She grew up in a family of feminist advocates and is continuing the fight for reproductive justice, including a family’s right to autonomous and truly informed decisions during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience. She is very excited to be a part of the RESPCCT Study and is looking forward to being able to help share the story of persons and their experiences across this country.
Andrea Williams, CSC
Andrea Williams (she/her) is a proud Black Indigenous woman and mother of two, living and working in Tkaronto. As an Indigenous Community educator, Andréa works to highlight Indigenous ways of knowing and being and supports early care professionals and educators as they embark on a journey of learning and allyship with the diverse nations of Indigenous peoples and BPOC in Ontario.
Andréas lived experience as a racialized woman and overcoming the challenges of her complicated pregnancy, informs her professional development in a way that invites educational communities to think deeper, ask hard questions and amplify the voices within Black maternal health.