Vanessa Nevinis the Director of Health at the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Secretariat and comes from Sipekne’katik First Nationwithin Mi’kmaki.Vanessa leads a dynamic health department that works to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations through participation of First Nations in the planning, management and delivery of health programs and services.
Vanessa has worked for APC for over 10 years on Health, Indian Residential School, Elections, and Social. Furthermore, she has extensive experience working with First Nations communities and organizations including Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centre, North American Indigenous Games, and Victoria Native Friendship Centre. Vanessaalso completed contracts with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation to review/arbitrate proposals and University of Victoria Law Schoolto research on First Nations’ alternative justice programs throughout the province of British Columbia.
Vanessa obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History and minor in Greek and Roman Studies from the University of Victoria, and completed graduate courses for Royal Roads University’s Master’s of Artprogram for Conflict Analysis and management. She also had a Royal Roads University certificate in Negotiations, and, an Aboriginal Trauma Certificate from the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
Vanessa loves nature, hiking, beaches, and her beautifulfamily.
Jarvis was raised in We’koqma’q, Unama’kik, attended an Indian Day School, and graduated from a Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey school. He holds degrees from Saint Mary’s University (cum laude), Dalhousie Law School, and is a non-practicing member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. He joined APC in July 2013 as the former Aboriginal Health Human Resource Initiative (AHHRI) Coordinator. He is currently the Associate Director of Health. His work is mainly the Health Partnership, the Child and Youth Committee, supervising staff (re Health Partnership coordination, Health Policy support, and anti-racism legislation), health-related conferences, Indian Day Schools, and he sits on several health-related boards of directors. He has spoken and presented at many events, including Dalhousie Law School and Medical School, the Nova Scotia Physiotherapy Association, Girl Guides of Canada and Scouts Canada, and led the development of the Donald Marshall Junior Memorial Award. He also possesses knowledge on Indigenous law, and Mi’kmaw history, culture, and language, often acting as a cultural language resource and liaison.
In keeping up with his own health and fitness, he is an avid runner and recently qualified for the Boston Marathon. He volunteers on the management boards for both Run Nova Scotia as well as the Blue Nose Marathon. He lives in Kjipuktuk/Dartmouth with his wife Kerrianne and their Sheltie Looloo.
Thomas Hill is the Mental Wellness Project Manager with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. His responsibilities include managing the four Mental Wellness working groups, providing policy support for the Health Partnership’s Mental Wellness Committee, and collecting progress toward the implementation of the Mental Health and Addictions Plan for First Nations in the Atlantic Region.
Thomas has worked in Education, Economic Development, and Housing and Infrastructure in the past and brings a wholistic operational view to the demanding and critical work of Health policy. Thomas prides himself on his ability to build a sense of community among stakeholders and ensure all points of view are valued and foundational to the Region’s progress.
Thomas lives in Alusulue’katik (Lower Sackville) with his family.
Jenna Marr is the Health Partnership Coordinator at APC, where she is responsible for coordinating the Health Partnership and its four committees. Jenna strives to improve the health and wellbeing of Atlantic First Nations through coordinatingthe meeting and participation of First Nations in the devising, management, and delivery of programs and services funded or delivered by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, in support First Nations in pursuit of self-determination.
Prior to her position at APC, Jenna has worked for First Nations on and off the front lines in Mi’kma’ki and on Coast Salish Territory in Mental Health and Addictions, Finance, Indigenous Homelessness, and Urban Indigenous populations. She also attended studies at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her past work experience, education, and professional development aregeared towards First Nations families, health, mental health, and addictions.
Jenna was born, raised,and resides in Sipekne’katik First Nation. When she is not working, Jenna is found raising her two little brothers, chasing waterfalls, being a local tourist, binging Netflix, and surrounding herself with family and friends.
Miranda is from Wagmatcoook First Nation, she is a proud mother of one son and has resided on and off reserve. Miranda has 15 years of experience working with First Nations communities and organizations and has worked in the urban indigenous community for many years in different advocacy roles. She brings lived experience and heart to her role as the NIHB Navigator for APC.
In her role as the NIHB Navigator here at APC, Miranda will be responsible for advocating on behalf of and supporting Atlantic First Nations clients, communities, and organizations to help navigate non-insured health benefits (NIHB) issues.
Miranda is available to assist those having difficulties understanding and accessing the NIHB services that are currently available. She can also assist in the appeal process with NIHB programs.
Brenda Christie is a Resolution Health Support Worker (RHSW) for the Atlantic region, where she offers emotional support to Indian Residential Schools Survivors, Indian Day School applicants, and the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Through individual and group sessions which incorporate healing through cultural workshops such moccasin and mitten creation, drum making and healing circles, she offers support to various communities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
As a certified Social Service Worker currently finishing her Bachelor of Indigenous Studies with Laurentian University, she has 14 years of experience which allow her to emotionally support Survivors in a respectful and culturally informed manner. She is formerly from Ontario, where she most recently worked as a Family Violence Counsellor with Habitat Interlude.
A mother of two, with two grandchildren, she is happy to be back with her family in Nova Scotia. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, meditation, and yoga and actively participates in cultural activities including a Women’s Hand Drum group in Kingston.
Connie Francis is the New Brunswick Resolution Health Support Worker (RHSW) and is based out of Elsipogtog First Nation, where she was born and raised. Connie’s passion is helping people as they continue with their healing journey, and, for the last ten years that is exactly what Connie has been doing at the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat.
Specifically, in her role, Connie provides emotional and cultural support to Indian Residential School (IRS) survivors and their family members, those affected by National Inquiry of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and Indian Day School (IDS) claimants. Connie also provides mental health referrals and arranges cultural workshops throughout the Atlantic provinces. Please note that Connie is a fluent Mi’kmaq speaker and offers all services in English and Mi’kmaq.
After completing an associate degree in Social Work at St. Thomas University, Connie continues to keep her skills up to date by participating in mental health training. She has numerous training certificates including: Suicide Prevention/Intervention and Crisis Interventionand the Justice Institute of British Columbia Aboriginal Trauma. Connie also attended the Memramcook Institute for Life Skills Coach training.
In 1986, Connie started working in the mental health field as a Child and Family Services counselor and childcare worker. Also, Conniehas worked as a probation officer, an Elsipogtog Alcohol and Drug Prevention Supervisor and as the female counselor at Lone Eagle Treatment Centre.
Connie has been happily married to William Nevin for 27 years and has a wonderful family that she adores.
Emily Kirk Health Policy Analyst
Dr. Emily Kirk is a specialist in public health policy and is extremely passionate about health equity and accessibility. She holds a BA (Hons.) from Dalhousie University, MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Nottingham. Her research has been published widely, including the publication of three books. In addition to her scholarly research, she has worked as Researcher and Health Policy Analyst for a wide verity of national and international bodies, including, among others, the Nova Scotia Legislative House of Assembly, Global Affairs Canada, and the Washington Office on Latin America. She is very excited about starting her new position as Health Policy Analyst for the APC and learning from her knowledgeable and experienced APC colleagues. In particular, she is looking forward to working with First Nations Communities and the diverse APC partners.
Originally from Halifax, she is an avid traveler and has lived across four continents. She returned home in 2016 to teach at Dalhousie University and to spend more time with her family. Outside of professional commitments, she spends a lot of time outdoors, and especially enjoys going on extended camping and canoe trips with her husband.
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Wanda Ralph Administrative Assistant
Wanda was born and raised in Newfoundland and moved to Nova Scotia in 2003. In 2004, she trained as a volunteer firefighter and completed a Paralegal Diploma from Nova Scotia Community College. Wanda joined APC in 2011 to assist with the Economic Development Department but then transitioned to the Health Department in 2017. In her position, she works with the Director of Health and the entire Health Department providing administrative and logistical support for the Elder Care Working Group, Mental Wellness, Health Partnership, and Health Directors’ meetings. Wanda also assists with health-related conferences and other health initiatives and is the central finance administrator for the department.
Chris Walker is the Health Legislation Policy Analyst with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. As a settler, he grew up on Ktunaxa First Nations land in the West Kootenay Region of British Columbia but has resided on the Mi’kmaw territory of the Halifax peninsula for the past 14 years.
He has over 11 years experience as a global health researcher, editor, author, and university instructor (at both Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie). These experiences often explored complex policy challenges such healthcare/health access, medical education, international development, bilateral and triangular cooperation, conflict, activism, structural violence, as well as social justice. A significant focus of his doctoral research and past projects, have included creative health policy solutions for low-income, rural, and oppressed populations-particularly those most impacted by colonialism.
He is both humbled and grateful for the opportunity to learn from as well as work alongside of his APC colleagues and the First Nations communities they serve.