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Researcher Profiles


Michael Robidoux, PhD Folklore

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Michael Robidoux works with a multidisciplinary team of researchers
focusing on local dietary and physical practices in remote First
Nations communities in northern Canada and other international
settings. Increasingly local land based (traditional) dietary
strategies are being influenced by global forces, resulting in more
western based, prepackaged, store bought diets. The common goal of our
research is to understand how local dietary strategies may contribute
to improved health and how local diets can thrive within this global

François Haman, PhD Biology

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François Haman expertises focuses on energy metabolism as it relates to
nutrition and substrate utilization. Using indirect calorimetry and
metabolic tracer methodologies, his research team has been able to
quantify the contribution of different macronutrients during
environmental perturbations (i.e. cold and heat exposure, high
carbohydrate intake). Over the year, his discoveries have opened new
avenues for research in the field of human survival in cold
environments. In addition, the methodologies employed by Dr. Haman have
been used to quantify the risk/benefits of off-the-land sustenance in
two First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario.

Alexandra Arellano, PhD Sociology

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Alexandra Arellano works for a partnership with the Organisation Right
To Play that is implementing the Promoting Life-skills for Aboriginal
Youth program in eight First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities (FNMI)
from Ontario. The research team aims at further refining the PLAY
program to the disadvantaged sociocultural context of FNMI youth. This
research analyzes community mobilization and engagement throughout the
implementation to identify critical success factors towards the
program’s sustainability, transferability and capacity to efficiently
promote life-skills. Dr. Arellano also works with similar issues in
South America.

Jules Blais, PhD Biogeochemistry

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Jules Blais is an environmental toxicologist who co-directs the
Laboratory for the Analysis of Natural and Synthetic Environmental
Toxicants (LANSET). For the past fifteen years, he has been
coordinating and participating in northern research projects dealing
with the behavior and fate of environmental contaminants and their
impacts on northern communities. He is currently leading an NSERC
Strategic Grant to study the effects of thawing permafrost on
freshwater resources in Canada’s western Arctic. He and his colleagues
are also working closely with Health Canada to investigate risks to
northern populations by exposure to environmental contaminants from
northern traditional diets and contaminated soils.

Sonia Wesche, PhD Geography
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Sonia Wesche is an Assistant Professor in Geography at the University
of Ottawa. Over the past eight years she has worked with several First
Nation communities in the Yukon and Northwest Territories to better
understand their vulnerability and capacity to adapt to environmental
change. She also has experience working with the National Aboriginal
Health Organization on a range of Metis health issues. She is
particularly interested in links between environmental change,
traditional food use, food security, and health in Aboriginal

Stephen Stuart, PhD Social Marketing
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Stephen A Stuart is an assistant professor of Social Communication at
Saint Paul University, and an adjunct professor at the University of
Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics. He has a broad background in
communication and social marketing. His research interests lie in the
domain of social communication. In particular, his work seeks to
understand the capabilities of youth to comprehend and assimilate
government health messaging around food nutrition, particularly the
information contained on food labels, into decision-making about
physical activity and food consumption.

Courtney Mason, PhD Physical Education


Courtney Mason completed his PhD at the University of Alberta studying
the exclusion of Nakoda peoples from the Rocky Mountain National Parks.
He considered how the displacement impacted subsistence practices and
the health of local Indigenous communities. He held a SSHRC
Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Indigenous Health Research Group where
he examined the dietary and exercise benefits of land-based food
strategies, food security and health in Indigenous communities of
Northern Canada. He currently is an Assistant Professor at Thompson
Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia and an Adjunct
Professor in the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Graduate Students

Heather Thompson                                                                                                                               

Heather is currently in her second year of a MA degree under the supervision of Dr. Michael
Robidoux and co-supervision of Dr. Courtney Mason. Her research focus is on issues
of food insecurity in the North, and local subsistence practices. Heather has an interest
in traditional food diets, and has been working with the Wapekeka First Nation to
develop local gardening initiatives.


Corliss Bean

Corliss was the former Research Coordinator for the Indigenous Health
Research Group at the University of Ottawa. She is currently completing
her PhD in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa under the
supervisor of Dr. Tanya Forneris. her research focuses on examining the
processes and impacts of youth sport programs on positive youth
development, particularly with marginalized youth.

Meagan Ann O’Hare

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Meagan is a former Research Coordinator of the Indigenous Health
Research Group. With her undergraduate degree in Development Studies
and her roots in Northern Ontario, Meagan was drawn to the IHRG as it
combines her interests in health promotion, community development and
Northern populations. Meagan is doing her MA degree under the
supervision of Dr. Michael Robidoux, looking at traditional food diets,
food-sharing and inter-generational knowledge exchange in Fort
Providence, NT.

Michael Leibovitch Randazzo


Michael Leibovitch Randazzo is an Undergraduate Student in Psychology
and Aboriginal Studies. He spends his summers coaching football in
James Bay Eeyou Communities. He wants to continue his education in
health promotion as preventative measures. He plays football for the
University of Ottawa and is very involved in the school community.

Janice Cindy Caudet


Janice Cindy Gaudet is a Metis scholar from Saskatchewan currently
living in the Ottawa region. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in General
Studies and a
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Masters in Canadian Studies. Her PhD research with the Moose Cree First
Nations community focuses on Indigenous stories to foster understanding
of Cree conceptions of wellbeing and the importance of land-based
initiatives designed to strengthen connection to the land. She is
passionate about renewing Indigenous knowledge and ways of learning at
the center of youth, women and community wellbeing initiatives.

Desiree Streit


Desirée is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of
Physical Education and a Bachelor of Education (Minor in Native Studies).
She is currently working on her Masters of Education at the University of
Ottawa, with the guidance of supervisor Dr. Rebecca Lloyd, where she is
investigating the lived experiences of teacher candidates as they engage in
promoting physical activity through a community service learning project.
Desirée’s research incorporates an Indigenous research methodology, which
informs her other research interests such as culturally relevant curriculum
for Aboriginal youth and land based/experiential learning.

Shinjini Pal


Shinjini completed her M.Sc. degree with the Indigenous Health Research
Group in 2009, studying the effects of Persistent Organic Pollutants on
Type 2 diabetes in First Nations communities. She also worked with the
group as a research coordinator after that, assisting with research on
local food consumption and distribution. She is now working as a
postdoctoral scientist at the Environmental Health Science and Research
Bureau at Health Canada.

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