Community Partners

Photograph of CRaNHR Executive Director, Dr. Chris Mushquash.

Dr. Chiachen Cheng

NorthBEAT Project

Dr. Cheng completed her Psychiatry residency at McMaster University, a clinical fellowship in Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) at McMaster University, and a Master’s of Public Health at Harvard University. Dr. Cheng’s primary research interests are early intervention for youth mental health, evidence based practice as it interfaces with paediatric mental health policy, and models of care for vulnerable populations in rural/remote settings. Her research has examined program implementation and development, fidelity to practice standards, evaluation of specialized mental health care training for healthcare workers, delivery of specialized services in rural and remote regions, and pathways to care among vulnerable populations (e.g., youth, Indigenous people). Dr. Cheng was awarded a 3-year New Investigator Research Award from the Sick Kids Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research for The NorthBEAT Project in 2012. In 2017, Dr. Cheng and the NorthBEAT team received an Ontario Trillium Foundation Youth Opportunities Fund grant to support the NorthBEAT Collaborative. This diverse collaborative will improve coordination of care, build capacity to detect psychosis symptoms early, and enhance access to appropriate services for youth with psychosis who live in Northwestern Ontario.

Photograph of trees near the water's edge.

Mae Katt

Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School

Mae is a Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner in Thunder Bay Ontario and holds a degree in nursing and Master of Education (Curriculum Specialty).

Her nursing career has been diverse and includes Primary Health Care, mental health and addictions, adolescent health, maternal and child health and community health. She has a strong health policy and research background in community development, youth suicide, early psychosis, cancer care, health human resources and acquired brain injury.

She coordinates a Mobile Treatment Team that provides opiate-agonist treatment with Suboxone in remote and rural First Nations and at a First Nations high school. The onsite Suboxone program has been successful in eliminating high opioid prevalence at the high school.

She was appointed by the Ontario Minister of Health to the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Council responsible for the implementation of Phase 2 of the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.

She has worked as senior administrator responsible for First Nations health programs, both as Regional Director (Ontario) for Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health, and as Health Director at Nishnawbe Aski Nation, representing 49 First Nations with a total population of over 50,000 Ojibway and Cree living in the rural and remote north. Mae is a member of Temagami First Nation (Ojibway).

Photograph of Cynthia Olsen.

Cynthia Olsen

Thunder Bay Drug Strategy

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Cynthia has worked for 17 years in the areas of Child & Youth Mental Health, Adult Mental Health & Addiction, and most recently coordinates the City’s municipal 5-Pillar Drug Strategy. The Thunder Bay Drug Strategy is the City’s official plan to reduce the harms associated with substance use, and is a multi-sector collaboration of over 35 organizations and community members, including individuals with lived experience. Cynthia co-chairs the Thunder Bay Housing & Homelessness Coalition, is the Vice Chair of the Thunder Bay Drug Awareness Committee, and Past-Chair of the local Pride Organization, Thunder Pride. Cynthia has a Diploma in Child & Youth Work from Confederation College, and a Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Degree from Carleton University. Cynthia is a recipient of the 2016 Northern Ontario Visionary Awards for the top 20 young professionals under 40. She was actively involved in the Supervised Injection Services Feasibility Study conducted in her community, and is a co-author on the report from the research conducted in Thunder Bay. Cynthia is also a co-author on a submission to the Canadian Journal of Public Health entitled Opioid Use in Pregnancy and Parenting: An Indigenous-based, Collaborative Framework for Northwestern Ontario. Her research interests are in the areas of drug policy, housing and homelessness, harm reduction, and substance misuse prevention.

Photograph of Dr. Kelly Skinner.

Dr. Kelly Skinner

School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo

Kelly Skinner is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo where she leads and teaches in the new online Master of Health Evaluation program. Kelly’s research and evaluation interests focus on the health and well-being of First Nations populations and northern communities in the areas of chronic disease prevention, evaluation of health programs, youth health, and community capacity development. Within these areas, Kelly has expertise in nutrition and food security issues and her work covers the areas of social justice and social policy for improving food security, advocacy for food sovereignty, and building resilient and sustainable northern food systems. Because of the community-based nature of this work, Dr. Skinner has extensive experience with stakeholder engagement and working with communities as an evaluation consultant. Recent evaluation and research projects cover the topics of food costs, food quality, northern retail food environments, and community food initiatives.

Photograph of Brianne Wood.

Brianne Wood

North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)
Thunder Bay District Health Unit
School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa

Brianne is an Epidemiologist with the North West LHIN, as part of the Health System Strategy and Innovation team, and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. She is currently completing her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa. Along with providing epidemiologic support for respective organizations, Brianne brings expertise in research methods, knowledge synthesis, and statistical analysis to the organization. Examples of projects that Brianne has co-led include the “Integration Evaluation Framework," an evidence-informed model that will measure progress of health care integrations in the region, and a primary care capacity assessment and forecasting model, a series of models that examine and predict population need, care utilization, and workforce supply of primary care in the region. Currently, Brianne is working as a knowledge broker between both organizations to improve the use of research evidence and engagement with research community. Brianne’s research interests  include health equity (with a focus on measurement), primary health care planning, decision-making, and knowledge translation. Collaboration with the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research is important so that the North West LHIN and TBDHU can translate local research findings into action and can help guide future investigations that could improve health outcomes for northwestern Ontario residents.