Our Leadership Team
Dr. Shannan Grant (Principle Investigator) Shannan is a settler from Unama’ki, living in K’jipuktuk with her family, who are from a Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario called Moose Cree First Nation. She has ~20 years of experience working with, for and in Indigenous communities on community-led projects. One project, the Sandy Lake Health and Diabetes Project, is internationally known for its community leadership and sustainability. Shannan has been an active member of the CIHR- funded Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network since its inception and works daily to answer the various calls to action put forth by our Indigenous people(s). She is an Assistant Professor and Registered Dietitian in the Department of Human Nutrition, at Mount Saint Vincent University, Affiliate Clinical Scientist at the IWK Health Centre and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Obestetics and Gynaegcology, Dalhousie University. On paper, she is the principal investigator for this work, but stresses that her leadership team and partnering communities are equal partners on all aspects of this work.
Ann Sylliboy (Co-founder) is the Post-Secondary Consultant with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, a unified team of chiefs, staff, parents and educators who advocate on behalf of and represent the education interests of communities, while protecting the educational and Mi’kmaw language rights of the Mi’kmaq people.
Velvet Paul (Co-founder) is the Director of Education, Sipekne’katik First Nation, holding a Master’s of Education (Curriculum Development, 2019) from MSVU. She is a key contributor to curriculum development for the pilot project (2017-19) and is passionate to continue and expand the project in the coming years. Velvet is invaluable to this team, due to her experience, education and rich relationships within and beyond Sipekne’katik First Nation.
Dr. Shane Theunissen (Co-founder) is an Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Youth Study, MSVU, and a specialist in youth programming and experiential education, with experience working with Indigenous communities. He and his colleague Eamonn Doorly (Master Boat Builder, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic) have been key contributors to Teaching With Small Boats in Nova Scotia and have existing relationships with Pictou Landing First Nation.
Chelsey Purdy (Program Coordinator) is a graduate of MSVU’s Applied Human Nutrition Program (2020), member of Acadia First Nation, and a Masters of Science student in Applied Human Nutrition at MSVU. Chelsey is interested in programming that supports learning through relationships, and that builds on existing community strengths. She is also interested in arts-based, participatory approaches to research that center community voice in identifying and reclaiming cultural values and practices around food.
Pictured left to right: Chelsey Purdy, Ann Sylliboy, Dr. Shannan Grant
Students and Interns
Each year we hire students to help develop and implement programming. Florence Blackett has been working with us since 2017 and is an undergraduate Applied Human Nutrition student from Millbrook First Nation. Florence is a valuable team member who shares her guidance and her lived experience with the team, supporting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Alyssa McIntyre of Georgina Island First Nation in Ontario started work with us in 2021, with a focus on in-community cultural wellness programming. Alyssa has a particular interest in in Indigenous midwifery and has played an important role in supporting the team with integrating Indigenous perspectives into programing.
Lia Chin-Yet (Communications and Social Media Support Staff) is a recent graduate of MSVU’s Applied Human Nutrition Program (2021). Lia is from Halifax, Nova Scotia and identifies as having mixed Jamaican, Chinese, and European heritage. In her role, she supports the program with social media, event recruitment, videography, photography, and other multimedia. Lia is trained in food photography and videography and has a background in business and accounting. Her interest in nutrition and health, particularly public health, led her to pursue a degree in Applied Human Nutrition at MSVU.
We have also supported dietetic interns through the Internship Education Program at MSVU. Past interns, Kate Braddon (Settler woman from Ontario) and Winta Tesfastion (African woman from Eritrea) have successfully completed their population and public health placements with our program.
We’ve also had other students who have since graduated or wrapped up their work with us. These students include Jaclyn MacNeil (Applied Human Nutrition, MSVU), Shannon Ledger (Education Student, MSVU), Kwaku Agyare (Biology student, MSVU), Iain Caldwell (Education student MSVU), and Ashley Copage (Sipekne’katik First Nation, Applied Human Nutrition MSVU).
Pictured: 2019 students who worked as part of the development and implementation team. From left to right: Shannon Ledger, Kwaku Agyare, Shannan Grant, Jaclyn MacNeil, Florence Blackett, Chelsey Purdy.
Pictured: 2018 students who worked as part of the development team. From left to right: Chelsey Purdy, Ashley Copage, Florance Blackett, Iain Caldwell.