Patient Partners

Patient Partners

Direct Impact

We believe that engaging patients in research is the cornerstone to building a health care system that is sustainable, accessible, inclusive, and equal for all. In 2014, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) launched its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Research Networks in Chronic Disease. Diabetes Action Canada is one of these networks and focuses on long-term improvements to the management and treatment of diabetes and its related complications. Engaging individuals and caregivers in our work, ensures the projects, research, tools and information Diabetes Action Canada develops is relevant to those that live with diabetes. This initiative reinforces the importance of partnering with the people whose lives are touched by chronic disease to achieve goals of finding real solutions to improve the lives of people and families who are living with these conditions.

At Diabetes Action Canada, Patient Partners are persons living with diabetes or caregivers (including family and friends) that have agreed to collaborate within the Network, bringing their lived experience with diabetes to help inform current and future research within the Network and beyond.

We need your help!

Become a Patient Partner

You will participate in discussions approximately once a month pertaining to research projects and strategic goals of the Network. You can also get involved in a research team! Researchers need your feedback to make sure research projects are relevant for people living with diabetes.

Patient Partners

Click a Profile to See More Information About Our Patient Partners

Mike Alexander

Mike Alexander, an Anishinaabe artist and athlete who has struggled with depression and addiction. He is a Sixties Scoop survivor and recently became a member of Diabetes Action Canada’s Indigenous Patient Circle.

Virtue Bajurny

Virtue is a social worker from Toronto, who has been living with diabetes for over 22 years. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, as well as a BFA in film and video production from York University. She has combined this background with social media to connect with others living with diabetes. She completed her graduate research and has done several presentations about diabetes, peer support, and online communities. She worked for over three years with the Canadian charitable organization, Connected in Motion, which provides experiential and peer support opportunities for adults living with Type 1 diabetes. There, she provided online and social media content, while further providing supportive counselling to individuals and groups of people dealing with Type 1 diabetes. She currently has a private practice in Toronto where she provides therapy and counselling for people going through a variety of mental health difficulties, including those related to living with a chronic illness like diabetes

Tamara and Kenya Beardy

Tamara and Kenya are mother and daughter from northern Manitoba Tataskweyak First Nation. Kenya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 9 in 2010. During this time Tamara says she felt alone, with no resources in the north for supports for families dealing with this illness. They decided to relocate to Winnipeg to be closer to health team, to get educated together. Tamara and Kenya’s goal is to take what they’ve learnt, to support our communities and families to share their story and experience to bring awareness in any way they can, and help educate children about diabetes.

Ron Beleno

Ron is an active advocate for dementia, caregiving, aging, and research communities. As a caregiver to his father who lived with Alzheimer’s for 10+ years to age in place at home until January 2018, Ron utilized technology, community, creative strategies and access to research to support his family’s life to live well and as best as possible. In recent years, Ron has been invited to do presentations locally and internationally for Alzheimer’s Societies, communities, police, educators, innovators and corporations. He shares his knowledge on caregiving as we age, ways to use technology for caring, and living safely with dementia, especially for those at risk of wandering and going missing. He is an active member, advisor, and mentor to numerous organizations and educational institutions such as AGE-WELL NCE, Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) at Baycrest, City of Toronto’s Seniors Strategy, SE Health (formerly known as Saint Elizabeth Health Care) and the Translational Research Program (TRP) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. Further in his past, Ron has a background in Computer Sciences, Space and Communication Sciences, Marine Aquaculture, Life Coaching and Culinary Arts. He was the Founder and Executive Director of a Youth Career and Employment Centre that served over 30,000 young people, immigrants and career changers in the Toronto area during its’ operation.

Denis Boutin

Denis is recently retired and has been living with type-1 diabetes for 35 years. In 2015, he had his first contact with the world of health research. First as a participant in a research project on diabetes and then as a committee member aiming at promoting and involving patients as research partners. Denis is particularly interested and passionate about all measures / ideas / projects leading to participatory and dynamic integration of patients in research. Denis is currently Chair of the Comité stratégique patient-partenaire du Centre de recherche du centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CRCHUS), a member of the Communauté de pratique des patients et citoyens partenaires de la recherche en santé au Québec (CPPCP-RSQ) de l’Unité de soutien SRAP du Québec, and a participant in two research projects with Diabetes Action Canada.

Jean-Marc Chouinard

Jean-Marc has been officially retired since 2011 from the health network. In 1971, at the age of 19 years, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and has lived with this reality for 50 years this year. This change in health led Jean-Marc to change his professional orientation since he was in the armed forces at the time. He resumed his full-time studies and became a specialized educator in 1975. He worked in the health network for a few years and in 1979 became involved in visual impairment rehabilitation services for a new clientele. While working full time, he continued his training in the USA by becoming a visual impairment rehabilitation worker. In 1985, he made the leap into management by obtaining a position of administrator with the teams of specialists. While working full-time, he engaged part-time in management training and obtained his bachelor’s degree from the Université de Montréal in 1995. In 2000, he obtained his 2nd Cycle diploma in Management and Development from the Université Laval. In the 1980s Jean-Marc became involved with the Quebec local diabetes chapter as a member initially and later as President. He became a member of the provincial board of directors of the Diabetes Association and served as Vice-President for a time. The development of local sections was one of its priority objectives in order to support all people with diabetes in Quebec. Throughout these 50 years of life as a person living with diabetes, Jean-Marc has participated in various research projects with researchers from the hospital environment where he is followed in endocrinology. For the past five years, he has been a citizen representative on an ethics committee for population health research and front-line services. He is also a patient partner with Diabetes Action Canada and has been a member of the collective patient circle since the beginning and is also involved in research projects. Jean-Marc remains active by maintaining a good rhythm of daily physical activities while aiming for the best possible control of his condition. Now it is easier with the use of the insulin pump as a new technology. For him, research is essential and, as a patient partner, we must share our knowledge and our experience among ourselves and with research teams. For Jean-Marc, living healthy with diabetes is a daily challenge that must be met continuously because he wants to live as long as possible.

Pascual Delgado

Pascual worked as a community development organizer and human rights advocate in Montreal from 1970 until his retirement in 2014. He worked and volunteered with an organization that strived to improve healthcare services for members of ethno cultural communities residing in Quebec. In 2004, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but believes his condition had gone undiagnosed prior to this. He stresses the importance of interdisciplinary, holistic and culturally sensitive approaches for education, training, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients in the healthcare system – particularly when working with newcomers. Immigrating into a new country is often traumatic, meaning culturally sensitive care and accommodation of diversity should be a priority to reduce barriers to accessing care and treatment. He promotes the importance of self-esteem and training the mind and the spirit to harmonize with all organs of the body. He believes that faith and will power can have healing powers even with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Sasha Delorme

Sasha is a wife and mother of four who is passionate about Type 1 Diabetes advocacy because of her son, Brayson (age 9), who has been living with the condition since the age of 2. She became a patient partner with Diabetes Action Canada in September 2017 and serves as a member of Diabetes Action Canada’s Collective Patient Circle, Indigenous Patient Circle, and Steering Council. She also advocates through Diabetes Canada and JDRF, as well as social media platforms, sharing her family’s Type 1 journey. She has presented at numerous conferences, including the Annual Diabetes Canada Conference in 2019, Society for Medical Decision Making Annual Symposium speaking on “Medical Decision Making Across the Lifespan”, and a Live Well with Diabetes Event. Her family plans support group meetings, parade floats to spread awareness for the Type 1 Community in her city, and other fundraising events. She hopes to help bridge the gap between the research world and lived-experience by sharing her story and first hand knowledge of the condition.

Howard English

Howard is a Patient Partner for the Training and Mentoring Program and a member of the Collective Patient Circle. Howard is retired from the Canadian Military. He is from Winnipeg and has lived with T2D since 2008. He had pre-diabetes for 15 years prior to that. Since retiring, he has been involved in supporting diabetes care and research, including as a subject in two drug research projects, a Board Member of the Youville Clinic Centre of Diabetic Excellence in Manitoba, and a member of one of six Local Health Involvement Groups under the auspices of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. He took part in the Foundational Training Seminar in Ottawa for Patient-Oriented Research volunteers and is enthusiastically providing input for improved care for Canadians living with diabetes.

Kate Farnsworth

Kate Farnsworth is the patient partner co-lead for the Innovations in Type-1 Diabetes Program. Kate has been heavily involved in the Do-It-Yourself #wearenotwaiting movement since her daughter Sydney was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 8. With a background in information technology and graphic design, Kate has lent her skillset to developing diabetes watch faces for remote monitoring used by patients worldwide. Kate has created an online patient-driven support community for people who are exploring DIY closed-loop solutions and continues to advocate for all people with diabetes to have access to the best tools to manage their diabetes.

Diabetes Action Canada | SPOR Network
200 Elizabeth Street
Eaton Building, Room 12E242
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4 Canada

416-340-4800 ex. 2522