Mini Conference Program

Lessons Learned from COVID-19 to Address Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis impacts Indigenous peoples around the world at rates much higher than average, harming their physical, spiritual, emotional, social and economic health. This is the result of historic and ongoing colonialism, and includes significantly worse health determinants, inadequate access to immunization and treatment, and inadequacies in the provision of culturally-safe and responsive healthcare to Indigenous people. COVID-19 has further exacerbated already strained systems. Many Indigenous communities have found innovative ways of preventing and coping with COVID-19 and they are also learning from it. This virtual mini conference will highlight how Indigenous peoples and allies in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia are addressing viral hepatitis during the pandemic, what they are learning from it, and how they are refocusing on hepatitis testing, treatment and care. 

Agenda (Please note that the agenda is subject to change.)

Topic and Speaker
Welcome – Jennifer Quesnel, moderator
Ceremonial Welcome – Elder Stewart Prosper
Sponsor Acknowledgment – Jennifer Quesnel 
Conference Chair Address – Alexandra King
Keynote Presentation – Carrielynn Lund
Q&A with Carrielynn Lund
Cultural Interlude 
Leticia Racine – Person with Lived Experience
CanHepC Trainees
Trainees Q&A
Cultural Interlude 
Perspectives from New Zealand – Chris Cunningham 
Perspectives from Australia – Troy Combo 
Perspectives from a Cree First Nation in Canada – Pat Isbister and Jodie Albert 
An American Indian pharmacist’s experience – Bradley Moran
Cultural Interlude
Update on the in-person conference – Alexandra King 
Ceremonial Closing – Elder Steward Prosper
Closing Remarks – Jennifer Quesnel

SPEAKERS’ BIOGRAPHIES

WIPCVH Chair

Alexandra King, MD, FRCPC, is a citizen of Nipissing First Nation (Ontario). She is the inaugural Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Saskatchewan. She brings leadership skills in culturally safe and responsive research and care. This includes expertise in Two-eyed Seeing (bringing together Indigenous and Western worldviews or forms of knowledges) and Ethical Space (needs to be created when peoples with disparate worldviews are poised to engage each other). She is a Principal Investigator on various Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) research grants related to Indigenous people and HIV, hepatitis C (HCV) and co-infections. Her other research interests include Indigenous wellness and Indigenous research ethics.

Moderator

Jennifer Quesnel is the host and editor of Researchers Under the Scope, a bi-weekly podcast for the Office of the Vice-Dean of Research at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine. She earned her B.A. in Journalism and Communications at the University of Regina before going on to work at Global Regina and CBC Saskatchewan. Jennifer’s roots are French-Canadian, Métis, British and Ukrainian. Following the Red River Resistance, her father’s family settled in the village of Manigotagan, MB, as it grew from a fur trade outpost to a logging and mining community. Jennifer believes everyone has a story. Her goal is to listen and find ways to help others share theirs. A Dave Rogers RTDNA award winner and Gemini winner for “Best Local Newscast,” her long list of awards and nominations is a testament to a career powered by passion and persistence and endless positivity. 

Elder

Elder Stewart Prosper is from One Arrow First Nation in Treaty 6 territory, northeast of Saskatoon. Stewart is 78 years old and a fluent Cree speaker. His name in the nehiyaw language translates to “Sounding Sky” in English. Stewart retired when he was 65 but keeps far busier with traditional work than when he was employed. He is a pipe carrier and keeper of a sun dance lodge and a sweat lodge, duties he has held for 35 years. He is a residential school survivor, having spent 12 years at the Duck Lake and Lebret residential schools in Saskatchewan, Canada. He can sometimes be heard on MBC Radio’s Cree language segments.

Keynote

Carrielynn Lund is a Métis consultant, whose primary focus is assisting Indigenous communities to develop cultural responses to HIV, hepatitis C virus, other sexually transmitted blood-borne infections and their relation to mental health and stigma. She has done extensive work in the area of heath research and has contributed significantly to the development of Indigenous research ethical guidelines in Canada. Her extensive committee work includes service on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (Treasurer), the CIHR Ethics Standing Committee and the Health Canada/Public Health Agency of Canada Research Ethics Board. Carrielynn contributes substantially to the CIHR review and process development and is highly skilled working within Network environments. She has been on staff with CAAN (Communities, Alliances & Networks), formerly known as the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, since 2013 and currently coordinates a national, community-led implementation project, DRUM & SASH.

Interlude

Pamyua was formed in April 1995 by brothers Phillip and Stephen Blanchett. The brothers stumbled upon a musical concept to blend Inuit drum dance melodies with R&B vocal styling and arrangements, described as “Inuit soul music.” The duo immediately began sharing their performance around Alaska and collaborating with like-minded artists. Later that year Ossie Kairaiuak permanently joined the group. In the spring of 1996, Karina Moeller joined them. Pamyua showcases Inuit culture though music and dance performance. 

Lived Experience

Leticia Racine is an Ojibway woman from the Turtle Mountains in Manitoba, residing in Treaty 4 territory for the last 16 years. Leticia has been on her healing journey for the last six years. Years of unresolved personal and intergenerational trauma led her to a life of addiction, alcoholism and violence. She has lived experience with hepatitis C. Today, Leticia lives in a sacred way and is guided by the spiritual laws, principles and teachings of her people. This sacred way is her strength and the path to healing for herself, her family and her community. Leticia is the Wellness Coordinator for CAAN, a national Indigenous organization that is committed to addressing the issues of HIV and hepatitis C. 

CanHepC Trainees

Canadian Network on Hepatitis C (CanHepC) is a national collaborative research and training network on hepatitis C virus (HCV). CanHepC brings together over 100 members including researchers and student trainees from different disciplines and knowledge-users from across Canada, and international partners. On World Hepatitis Day 2021, this year’s trainees have co-authored an open letter entitled “Hepatitis Can’t Wait: Teachings from COVID-19 to Combat Hepatitis B and C Viruses.” They observed that many of the tools used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have been previously used for viral hepatitis. The viral hepatitis pandemic has been ongoing for the past 40+ years and has established life-long infection in over 350 million people. Despite the large disease burden and mortality associated with viral hepatitis, it has not received as much public attention and government support for screening and treatment when compared to COVID-19. In their letter, they highlight the various measures that could be implemented to reach the World Health Organization’s viral hepatitis elimination goals by 2030.

Interlude

Theland Kicknosway is an Indigenous youth who uses his voice to spread his message and showcase Indigenous culture. He is Wolf Clan from the Potawatomi and Cree Nation and is a member of Walpole Island, Bkejwanong Territory. Theland has been a fixture in the Indigenous community as a traditional singer, drummer, dancer and social media influencer. In 2018, Theland became the youngest Indspire Laureate named for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality. His path-breaking efforts have been highlighted by Nike, Disney, and the BBC. He has also been mentioned in Teen Vogue, Entertainment Tonight and Complex. In his 18th year in the physical world, Theland continues to shine.

Perspectives from New Zealand

Prof. Chris Cunningham is from Aotearoa New Zealand, where he is a member of Ngati Raukawa and Ngāti Toa tribes. He is Professor of Māori and Public Health (Māori are the Indigenous peoples of NZ) and Director of the Research Centre for Hauora and Health at the Wellington campus of Massey University of New Zealand. Chris was co-chair of the first two World Indigenous Peoples’ Conferences on Viral Hepatitis, which were held in Australia and Alaska. Chris has undertaken many research projects on viral hepatitis in New Zealand, especially focussing on Māori health and development. Hepatitis B is a larger problem in NZ and Chris has been involved in running the NZ Hepatitis B Surveillance Programme, which is the largest and longest running surveillance programme in the world.

Perspectives from Australia

Troy Combo has a joint appointment with the Burnet Institute and the University of Queensland in Australia. He is employed by and based at University of Queensland’s School of Public Health. Troy was recently appointed as the Aboriginal Program Manager for Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia Partnership: EC Australia. He is a Bundjalung man from the Northern New South Wales. Troy’s a highly regarded leader in Aboriginal health with more than 20 years’ experience. He has managed state and national projects, working for both State and National peak Aboriginal Health Organisations and Hepatitis Australia. Troy has a long history of convening and facilitating conferences. He was sought after to MC and facilitate the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation’s Aboriginal Chronic Disease Network Conferences in 2017 and 2018.

Perspectives from a Cree First Nation in Canada

Pat Isbister and Jodie Albert are from the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation on Treaty 6 territory. Isbister is an elected band councillor and has been an outreach worker for the last six years for the Know Your Status (KYS) program. She works with clients infected with HIV, HCV and other STBBIs while assisting with a harm reduction program. Albert lived with undetected HCV for about 14 years of her life, until it was cured in 2018. She experienced racism and stigma about addiction from the healthcare system while seeking care and services in the past. When she sought out help in her home community she finally encountered health staff who were inviting, compassionate and warm toward her. She currently works at the Ahtahkakoop Health Centre as an addictions intern. 

An American Indian perspective

Brad Moran, PharmD, is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota. He was born and raised on the Fort Peck (Assiniboine and Sioux) Reservation in northeast Montana. Brad graduated from the University of Montana Skaggs School of Pharmacy in 2006. He returned home to work with the Fort Peck Service Unit Indian Health Service later that year, where he still practices as a clinical pharmacist. Brad is “ECHO Trained” and began treating hepatitis C in 2009 with the guidance and expertise from UNM Project ECHO telehealth clinics. His professional interests include hepatitis C treatment, substance use disorder treatment and diabetes management.

Interlude

Elwyn Henaway is a Birriguba performer, originally born on Thursday Island, now living in Brisbane, Australia. He works with the Metro North Hospital and Health Service as a Cultural Capability Officer at the Prince Charles Hospital, helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get their health needs met. He is a family man who relies on culture to keep him strong. Henaway plays instruments, such as the digeridoo, and is renowned as a performer, including multiple dance troupes. Henway uses dance, music and storytelling to help young Aboriginal people learn about their heritage.