Mini-Conference Program and Presenters

SCHEDULE – November 24, 2020 15:00 GMT-6

Time Topic and Speaker
15:00 Welcome – Alexandra King, WIPCVH Chair, and Neal Kewistep, moderator
15:05 Ceremonial Welcome – Elder Leona Tootoosis
15:13 Thanks & Sponsor Message – Neal Kewistep & Government of Saskatchewan
15:18 Introduction of Person with Lived Experience of Viral Hepatitis – Neal Kewistep
15:20 Person with Lived Experience of Viral Hepatitis – Leona Quewezance
15:30 Q&A with Person with Lived Experience of Viral Hepatitis – Everyone (questions via chat box)
15:35 Cultural Interlude – Jingle Dance with Randi Candline
15:40 Introduction of Keynote Speakers – Neal Kewistep
15:45 Keynote Presentation: Indigenous Leadership for Indigenous Health – Indian Country ECHO – Jessica Leston and David Stephens, Project ECHO
16:05 Q&A with Keynote Speakers – Everyone (questions via chat box)
16:15 Cultural Interlude – Tarvarnauramken: Blessings In A Time Of Crisis
16:19 Introduction of Global Panel – Neal Kewistep
16:24 Panelist from Canada – Margaret Kîsikâw Piyêsîs
16:34 Panelist from USA – Brian McMahon
16:44 Panelist from Central/South America – E. Roberto Orellana
16:54 Panelist from Australia – James Ward
17:04 Q&A with Global Panel – Everyone (questions via chat box)
17:15 Update on 2022 WIPCVH – Alexandra King
17:20 Introduction of Ceremonial Closing – Neal Kewistep
17:21 Ceremonial Closing – Elder Leona Tootoosis
17:26 Closing Remarks – Neal Kewistep



Alexandra King, MD, FRCPC, is a citizen of the Nipissing First Nation (Ontario). She is the inaugural Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Saskatchewan. She brings leadership skills in culturally safe and responsive research and care. This includes expertise in Two-eyed Seeing (bringing together Indigenous and Western worldviews or forms of knowledges) and Ethical Space (needs to be created when peoples with disparate worldviews are poised to engage each other). She is a Principal Investigator on various CIHR research grants related to Indigenous people and HIV, HCV and co-infections. Her other research interests include Indigenous wellness and Indigenous research ethics. She is the Chair of the third World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis event, which will be held in Saskatoon, Canada, and was a member of the organizing committee for the previous two events.


Neal Kewistep (Fishing Lake First Nation) has spent most of his career fostering relationships with government, community-based organizations, Indigenous organizations and educators. As the former Interim Director of the Population Public Health (PPH) in the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), his leadership led to increasing the infant and childhood immunization rates to close the gap between the most affluent neighbourhoods and the inner-city neighbourhoods, and to addressing safe housing issues. He was also the strategic lead for cultural competency and Truth and Reconciliation Commission activities for PPH. Neal has served as the Director of Operations for the Native Counselling Services of Alberta, as a Community Development Advisor with Yellow Quill First Nation, and has provided consulting services to the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. He co-founded the Wicihitowin Indigenous Engagement Conference, which he co-chairs each year. In 2017, CBC named Neal one of its “Future 40 under 40” for his work leading change within the health care system. He has a Master of Public Administration from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School at the University of Saskatchewan and a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Studies from First Nations University of Canada. He counts his traditional training from elders as being as relevant in teaching him the role of a servant leader. He is currently an executive in resident with Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.


Leona Tootoosis is a member of Poundmaker Cree Nation. She was born on Thunderchild First Nation to the late Louisa Angus from Thunderchild and the late Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Senator John B. Tootoosis of Poundmaker. Senator Tootoosis was a prominent leader in Saskatchewan and the original president of the FSIN. He passed the oral history of First Nations political organization in Saskatchewan on to his children, including Leona. As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Leona is the matriarch of a large family. She attended Assumpta Catholic Academy in South Battleford and, although she is a Residential School Survivor, having attended Poundmaker Day School in her younger years before going to three different residential schools, Delmas Indian Residential School, Onion Lake Indian Residential School then Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School in Lebret, Saskatchewan, Leona has maintained her language and cultural knowledge as passed on from her ancestors. Leona convocated from First Nations University of Canada with a Bachelor of Indian Social Work and has had a varied career. She has worked on various projects with youth and families in Saskatoon, as a translator at FSIN focused on Cree Nation culture, history and governance, and has served as an Elder at the University of Saskatchewan Kanawayitatan Askiy – Let’s Keep Mother Earth – program and with midwifery programs with various First Nation communities.

Person with Lived Experience of Viral Hepatitis  

Leona Quewezance is a Saulteaux woman from Keeseekoose First Nations. She is a proud mother of two sons and two daughters, and a grandmother of three beautiful grandchildren. Her commitment to her ancestors includes picking up the traditional knowledge of medicines as a traditional knowledge practitioner. She made a lifelong commitment to protecting and having a relationship with the many medicinal plants that are available across Turtle Island. Leona has been working in the field of HIV and hepatitis C for the past 22 years at All Nations Hope Network (ANHN) in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she is currently the Program Director. She has been providing education and training on the frontline and has been very passionate about the work she provides for the community; conducting frontline workshops around the province has kept her grounded and compassionate. Her accomplishments as the Program Director included developing resources such as the Saskatchewan Harm Reduction Guide, the HIV and Hepatitis C Kit and Sharing the Knowledge (Train the Trainers) manual. She has coordinated many events throughout the years including the Annual AIDS Walk and many provincial and national conferences. She is currently the Coordinator of the Kotawe (start a fire) research project for ANHN, which is about integrating wisdom from a variety of completed research projects for used on various aspects of HIV risk and prevention among Indigenous women. The research is about women’s lives and how communities and systems can better work together, with women and one another, to deliver better, sustainable and affordable, integrated care.

Keynote Presenters from Project ECHO

Our keynote presenters are from the Indian Country ECHO. Jessica Leston and David Stephens’ talk, Indigenous Leadership for Indigenous Health – Indian Country ECHO, will explore how the ECHO program, which is aimed at improving hepatitis C care for American Indians and Alaska Natives, has expanded to include responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing its work supporting Indigenous leadership for Indigenous Health. 

Jessica Leston

Jessica’s maternal family are settlers to Turtle Island, originally from Germany, Sweden and Ireland. Her father’s side of the family is originally from Austria, Finland and Tsimshian from Southeast Alaska – originally British Columbia. She grew up in Chicago but spent many summers in Southeast Alaska with her Grandmother’s family – climbing Deer Mountain, picking huckleberries around Ward Lake and watching the salmon make their way to the Ketchikan Creek Falls. She began her public health career working at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2004 and has worked in tribal health since then. Currently, she is employed by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) as the Clinical Programs Director where she focuses on health systems and policy change. She strongly believes in learning from traditional Indigenous ways of knowing to help guide, direct and strengthen public health systems. In her life and work, she honours the Alutiiq cultural value, “We are responsible for each other and ourselves.”

David Stephens

David’s mother’s family are settlers from Sweden, Norway, Holland, and England and his father’s family came from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Haida Gwaii. He is the son of a tribal health director and school bus driver, partner to a neuroscientist, father of a lively three-year-old, and a nurse with a passion for finding creative solutions, with less money, fewer staff and less fanfare while making sure friends live up to their promises. He began serving the 43 tribes of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board 10 years ago focusing on developing and implementing technology-based health interventions.



Global Panellists


Margaret Kîsikâw Piyêsîs is a First Nations Cree woman with family ties to George Gordon First Nation in Treaty Four territory of what is now known as Saskatchewan, Canada. Margaret is the CEO of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, the Finance and Research Director of All Nations Hope Network (ANHN) in Regina and has over 20 years of responding to HIV, HCV and colonial impacts in Saskatchewan’s Indigenous communities through culture, ceremony, humour, and Indigenous ways. Today Margaret stands strong in her Indigeneity, gives gratitude to the Creator for the teachers, healers, lessons, and blessings on her journey, and is humbled by the magic of the Great Mystery. She knows who she is as an Indigenous woman, as a community leader, a pipe carrier, as a medicine carrier.




Dr. Brian J. McMahon is a clinical Hepatologist and the Director of the Liver Disease and Hepatitis Program at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska, and guest researcher at the Arctic Investigations Program of the CDC in Anchorage. He is a fellow in the AASLD and a Master in the American College of Physicians. His program follows over 1200 Alaska Native Persons with chronic hepatitis B and 2400 with chronic hepatitis C throughout Alaska. The hepatitis B program has already met the all WHO 2030 goals for HBV. He conducts research on long-term outcome and management of chronic hepatitis B and C. He was involved in the previous World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis events, sits on the organizing committee and brings expertise in how viral hepatitis impacts Alaska Natives and American Indians.


Central and South America

E. Roberto Orellana, PhD, MPH, MSW, is the Associate Dean for Research and Sponsored Projects at Portland State University’s School of Social Work (PSU-SSW) and an affiliate faculty in Public Health and Indigenous Nations Studies at PSU. His research focuses on the intersecting epidemics of drug abuse, HIV and trauma. He’s been an investigator on several HIV prevention clinical trials in Seattle, New York and Peru. Dr. Orellana is Indigenous Maya, born in Guatemala and as an Indigenous researcher, he has worked with community partners on several epidemiologic and mixed methods studies with Indigenous populations in the Amazon jungle of Peru, the Highlands of Guatemala, and Indigenous Nations in the US. He works with several international Indigenous organizations dedicated to HIV prevention and health promotion among Indigenous populations around the world. He is a member of the Board of Directors of a research and education non-profit organization in Guatemala, and served on the Research Advisory Council of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS. More recently, as part of the national and international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on American Indian/Alaska Natives and other Indigenous populations throughout the Americas, he has worked closely with a group of Indigenous researchers, academics, and community activists to respond to the outbreak.


Professor James Ward has over 20 years’ experience working within Aboriginal health and communities in Australia. He is a descendent of the Pitjantjatjara and Nurrunga clans of central and south Australia. He is presently the Director of the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Professor in the UQ School of Public Health. His research expertise is in the areas of sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses including hepatitis within Aboriginal Health spanning areas of epidemiological, social and health systems research. He is also a member of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis organizing committee and was involved in organizing the first two conferences.