People

Community Action Initiative represents a varied cross-section of interest and experience in mental health/illness and substance use.

Our collective expertise stems from lived experience, research, advocacy, volunteer and work practice. Our members represent community social services, Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis nations and organizations, government, and labour.

Click any staff photo below to access their contact information.


Staff

Melinda Markey – She/Her

Secretariat Director

Melinda holds a master’s degree in Public Health from Simon Fraser University where her graduate work focused on the contribution mental health promotion can make to social justice as well as the importance of community inclusion for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness. She has considerable experience working in community-based, participatory and peer-led health research as a Program Evaluator with the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education at the University of British Columbia, and as a member of the national qualitative research team with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Melinda strongly believes that collaboration, innovation and collective impact can make our communities better places to live – where all people have a chance to thrive.

Janine Stevenson – She/Her

Director of Strategic Initiatives & Special Projects

Janine’s heritage is of Orkney and English descent. She has raised her daughter, worked and played in the unceded and occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) people for the past 29 years.

Janine was with the BCCDC as a street nurse for 16 years throughout BC and in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during which she worked with street youth, sex workers and people who struggle with addiction. She has been involved in creating and teaching workshops for public health nurses and healthcare professionals and peers regarding sexual health, harm reduction and addiction throughout BC including First Nation communities for over 2 decades. Most recently, Janine was at the First Nations Health Authority in the role of the STBBI and Harm Reduction CDC Nurse Specialist, manager of the Indigenous Wellness Team and Lead for the Compassion, Inclusion and Engagement Team (CIE), a FNHA & BCCDC initiative. The teams were part of the FNHA response to the overdose crisis throughout the province.

These days when not at work, during Covid times she and her partner enjoy biking, gardening and spoiling their cat, Tom.

Mira Farrage – She/Her

Program Manager - Grants & Community Funding

As the Grants and Community Funding Manager, Mira is responsible for providing analytical data support for CAI’s grant funding, training and capacity building programs to help convey the impact CAI has on a provincial-scale. Mira holds a Bachelor of Science from Simon Fraser University in the public health discipline and is keen on better understanding and reporting on the needs and gaps of individuals and families experiencing mental health and substance use challenges within the community sector.

Andrea Derban – She/Her

Clinical Lead, Episodic Overdose Prevention Sites (e-OPS)

Andrea Derban is a seasoned Public Health Nurse with over 30 years of experience in 3 of BC’s 5 Regional Health Authorities, BCCDC, FNHA and the Ministry of Health. Driven by a passion for social justice, Andrea is a dedicated team member striving for systemic changes required to better serve people who use substances. Andrea is a graduate of the University of British Columbia with a baccalaureate degree in nursing and has been working towards a Masters degree in Theology at Regent College. When not at home in Coal Harbour, Andrea is walking the seawall with her partner or hiking with her puppy in the mountains.

Jennifer Alsop – She/Her

Manager of Policy and Evaluation

Jennifer is responsible for leading, planning and implementing research and evaluation projects at CAI. Jennifer brings a background rich in in program evaluation and policy research gained from experience with federal and territorial departments, and non-profit organizations. Born and raised in the Lower Mainland and educated in public policy at the Masters level in Ottawa, Jennifer works to generate knowledge and research about the community sector to help inform CAI’s grant funding, training and capacity building programs. Jennifer is grateful to be working closely with communities in developing unique ideas and creative solutions to local concerns.

Prairie Chiu – She/Her He/Him

Project Manager - OPEN

Prairie is responsible for the management and support of special CAI granting initiatives activating community-based organizations across BC to tackle mental health/substance use issues through collaborative and innovative projects. Prairie earned her Masters of Social Work degree from Smith College in Northampton, MA, and spent 7 plus years providing psychotherapy to diverse clients in community mental health settings. Most recently, Prairie worked in Seattle, WA as Equity and Inclusion Project Manager for a non-profit mental health agency. Prairie is excited to be back in her native Vancouver, and to contribute to local change efforts.

Emily Wagner – She/Her

Community Grants Manager - Registered Supportive Recovery ALR & Community Wellness Harm Reduction Grants

Emily’s current portfolio includes coordination of two mid-sized projects: a province-wide training bursary program and community of practice for the supportive recovery home sector and a harm reduction granting stream for BC municipalities. She holds a Master of Science degree from SFU and has over 15 years experience working in various health research, education, and advocacy roles in the academic and non-profit sectors. She is passionate about information equity as a path to transformative individual, family, and community health and wellness and grateful to be a part of the CAI team.

Noah Chalifoux – He/Him

Project Coordinator - Municipal Harm Reduction

Noah recently graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Human Geography. He is passionate about community health and has been involved in a number of community-focused research projects and organizations. He is particularly motivated by work in queer health, harm reduction and food sovereignty.

He believes that change is a collective process and that it should be led by communities themselves. Grounded in queer ethics of solidarity, Noah is committed to supporting community-led harm reduction across BC. Outside of work, Noah loves hiking, camping and gardening.

Peter Hoong – He/Him

Project Manager - Community Action Teams

Peter has a Master of Public Health from Simon Fraser University. His background in public health research has given him the opportunity to work with diverse stakeholders living with HIV, mental health issues, and/or substance use issues. He is especially passionate about LGBTQ/2S health and capacity building. Equity is the guiding principle behind his work, and he hopes to aid and facilitate communities in driving change.

Tanis Rose Oldenburger – She/Her

Peer Project Coordinator

Tanis Rose Oldenburger was born, raised and currently residing here in the Fraser Valley, on the unceeded territories of the Stó:lō peoples.

When I am not cooking, doing yoga or taking care of my many plants, you can find me in the forest amongst the firs, fungi and ferns. I identify as a person with lived experience having been navigating Mental Health, Addictions and Criminal Justice for much of my life. In my recovery I am very passionate about giving back to my community of peers by helping to create systems that are easier to navigate. I am dedicated to positive policy and practice change, and willing to do whatever it takes to address and change systemic issues and harsh stigma that face all people with mental illness and those who self-medicate with substances.

Debbie Li – She/Her

Accountant

Debbie is responsible for ensuring effective and efficient working of accounting functions in CAI.  She holds the Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified General Accountant (CPA, CGA) designation and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Adelaide, Australia.  She has experience in auditing and corporate accounting.   When not at work, she enjoys gardening and is a volunteer gardener of the green streets program in Vancouver.

Marnie Scow – She/Her

Peer Project Lead (e-OPS and Municipal Harm Reduction Education)

Marnie Scow is from the traditional territories of the Kwakiutl and Namgis First Nations that are a part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Peoples on Vancouver Island. She currently resides on the unceded territories of the Katzies First Nations.

Marnie has a Post Secondary Education in Criminology/Restorative Justice. She is returning to University to pursue a Masters in Public Health Science. Marnie identifies as a person with lived experience with substance use and the Criminal Justice system. She has worked in Public & Indigenous Health in a variety of capacities including being the first Peer hire with the Indigenous Wellness Team (IWT) at First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and the first Indigenous woman to work with the grassroots organization Culture Saves Lives bringing personal connections, stories, with low barrier access to culture for both residents of Vancouver’s downtown east side and BC First Nations Communities. While working with FNHA’s Indigenous Wellness Team Marnie facilitated many dialogues about Indigenous Harm Reduction & Decolonizing Addiction throughout First Nations Communities in British Columbia. Marnie has a passion and often specializes in Indigenizing harm reduction, Housing First, alcohol harm reduction, advocacy for changes in the health care system for Indigenous People & low barrier access to safe supply. Marnie has a love for sports and tacos! One of her true passions is slow pitch and when Marnie isn’t working you can often find her playing baseball or golfing with her boyfriend & spending time with their rescue dog Amelia

Adrienne Yeung – They/Them She/Her

Community Grants Manager - Community Counselling

Adrienne manages a portfolio that increases access to quality, publicly funded, community-based counselling across BC. She comes to CAI with a MPH in Social Inequities and Health from SFU and a BSc. in Neuroscience from the University of Winnipeg. Her diverse background of experiences includes counselling, project management, qualitative research, workshop facilitation, education, entrepreneurship and the arts. Adrienne is excited to do work that highlights the importance of mental health and the inseparability of health equity and social justice.

Anna Harcourt – She/Her

Project Manager - Alcohol Activation Project

Anna is responsible for the coordination of CAI initiatives offering training, capacity-building and grant opportunities to community-based organizations across the province. Anna has an international background in project coordination in the private and non-profit sectors, and recently completed a Master of Public Health to fulfill a long-standing interest in health promotion and the socio-ecological determinants of health. Anna appreciates having the opportunity in her work to address mental health and substance use challenges in BC.

Jane Piasecki – She/Her

Administrative Support Coordinator

Graduating from Queen’s University with a degree in political science, Jane has a keen interest in enacting change through policy work. This interest grew into passion in Kelowna, where she spent time volunteering with Canadian Mental Health Association on a project that prioritized housing and nutrition through crisis. Making a recent move to Vancouver Jane continues to be an active participant in her community by working with CAI where she upholds the importance of equity-oriented approaches, dissemination of knowledge and overall community development. Her focus is to develop a better understanding of the role of stigma in substance use and having a hand in building up healthy communities through the non-profit sector. When she’s not working Jane is counting down the days until she can get amongst the powder and ski her local mountain.

Dakota Fayant-McLeod – She/Her

Communications Coordinator

Dakota is responsible for CAI’s internal and external communications, including website and social media administration, identity systems and implementing administrative systems and policies. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, her home communities are Peepeekisis First Nation and the Qu’Appelle Métis community. Dakota holds Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies, and has over a decade of experience working and volunteering in community based non-profits across Canada.

Board of Directors

Shelagh Turner

CAI Co-Chair

Executive Director – CMHA Kelowna Branch

View the profile ofDustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson

Board member

Project Manager, Opioid Overdose Response at First Nations Health Authority

Dawn Dunlop

Board member

Executive Director – CMHA Shuswap/Revelstoke