COVID Symposium Discussants -part 2

Opening Ceremony:

Denise Bladwin Headshot

Denise Baldwin

is a Black-Anishinaabe citizen from the Chippewa’s of Nawash First Nation located within the beautiful Bruce Peninsula. She is of the Turtle Clan. She has over twenty years of experience working on the front lines in prevention, supervision, mentorship, and community service for vulnerable populations specifically Indigenous people affected by the war on drugs. Denise is dedicated to community building and providing services to diverse communities, both socioeconomically and culturally. Denise is currently developing the Indigenous Harm Reduction Network that will be the leader in Indigenous Harm Reduction philosophy and practices. To learn more about Black-Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island please go to Proclaiming Our Roots

Closing Ceremony :

Joanna Meawasige-Vautour headshot

Joanna Meawasige-Vautour

is an Anishinaabe Kwe (Ojibway Woman) from Serpent River First Nation. She is of the Turtle Clan, which comes from her maternal Grandmother. Joanna was raised by her Anishinaabe mother (Meawasige). My Anishinaabe family names are Meawasige (& Naogabow from Manitoulin Island) and Bissaillon (& McCoy & Mathias from the Algonquin Nation Maniwaki Quebec). As a registered Social Worker, she works through an intersectional and trauma-informed lens and integrates her Anishinaabe teachings into her role as a ‘Helper’ in the Indigenous Community. In carrying the Anishinaabe original instructions, Joanna’s mother taught her the ceremonies of the Purification (Sweat) lodge, fasting, and pipe.

Joanna has her Bachelors’s in Social Work, and she is currently completing her Masters of Social Work in the Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency program at the University of Toronto. Joanna has 20 years of Social Work experience working in the Toronto Indigenous (i.e. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) community in the areas of family & community development, youth recreation, child welfare, mental health, cancer care and palliative care. Her experience includes direct client care and system-level planning, where she was the Lead for First Nation, Inuit and Métis Engagement building relationships at the local, regional and provincial levels. Currently, Joanna resides in her First Nation community Serpent River and been engaged in community health-based research with First Nation communities and organizations.

Part 2: Session 1 June 4th, Thursday 7-9pm EST

llana James Headshot

LLana James

is a public intellectual and scientist. Her career spans two decades in the private sector and public service. She examines how AI disrupts the practice of health care, and medicine, while increasingly redefining rehabilitation, public health and health care systems. Her interests lie at the intersection of race-ethnicity, health, data privacy, AI and the law. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, in the Faculty of Medicine.

naomi klien_headshot

Naomi Klien

is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. She is Senior Correspondent for The Intercept, a Puffin Writing Fellow at Type Media Center and is the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University.

Part 2: Session 2 June 5th, Friday 2 – 4pm EST


Dr. Pat O’Campo

is internationally renowned for her scholarship and methods development in social epidemiology, and has received career-excellence awards from the US Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and the US Institute of Medicine. Her research focuses include mental health, intimate-partner violence, children’s wellbeing, HIV prevention, infant-mortality prevention and homelessness. Dr O’Campo is a Canada Research Chair in Population Health Intervention Research, Tier 1.

Sam Tecle Headshot

Sam Tecle

 is an Assistant Professor of Community Engaged Learning at New College, University of Toronto. His work focuses on Black and Diaspora Studies, Urban Studies, and Sociology of Education. His forthcoming work: Black Grammars: On Difference and Belonging focuses on the experiences and perspectives relating to blackness and Black identification of East African Diasporas across the UK, Canada and the US. He has held graduate student fellowships at both Harvard (2016) and Northwestern University (2014) in their respective African & African American Studies Departments. A former middle school teacher, Sam is a community advocate who has worked on a number of community projects concerned with the wellbeing, social lives, schooling experiences and educational outcomes of Black students.


Laura Rosella, PhD, MHSc

is the Principal Investigator and Scientific Director of the Population Health Analytics Lab. She is an Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Faculty Member in the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and holds scientific appointments at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Public Health Ontario (PHO). She also holds a Canada Research Chair in Population Health Analytics. Her research interests include population health, population based risk tools to support public health planning, and public health policy.

Part 2: Session 3 June 6th, Sat 10am -12:30pm EST


Jo-Ann Osei-Twum

is a founding member of the Black Public Health Collective. The Collective is committed to critical public health work and practice that is rooted in principles of social justice, systems transformation and Black well-being. Jo-Ann’s work lies at the intersection of race-ethnicity, GIS, spatio-temporal patterning of health and inequities.


Gbolahan (GB) Olarewajuis

is a first-year medical student at the University of British Columbia. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate education at the University of Guelph in Biomedical Science (BSc) and Human Health and Nutritional Science (MSc). As a queer Black immigrant, he has a keen interest in health access and equity for marginalized people including youth, immigrants, queer, Black, Indigenous and other people of color. This interest has been cultivated into interdisciplinary advocacy work and research experience as the Coordinator of International, Multi-Faith and Refugee programs at the University of Guelph, and more recently as the Vancouver coordinator for the national gay, bisexual and queer men’s health study Engage, and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS’ Momentum Health Study. While completing his medical education, he continues his advocacy work as vice-chair of the YouthCO HIV and Hepatitis C Society in British Columbia, and as inaugural Chair of the Black Medical Students Association of Canada.

Ciann Wilson Headshot

Ciann Wilson

is an Assistant Professor in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Ciann is of Afro, Indo, and Euro- Jamaican ancestry. She has over a decade of experience working within Indigenous, African, Caribbean and Black communities in Canada, first as a youth programmer and now as a researcher. Ciann is the Director for the Access and Equity Research Interest Group and a Co-Director of the Centre for Community, Research, Learning, and Action (CCRLA) at Wilfrid Laurier University. Ciann has a proven track record of work with Indigenous and Black communities, having published pieces such as: Narratives of resistance: (Re) Telling the story of the HIV/AIDS movement – Because the lives and legacies of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour communities depend on it. Ciann works with LLana James on the Research, Evaluation, Data Collection, and Ethics (REDE) Protocol for Black Populations in Canada

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