Staff Biographies

Elaine Wiersma, Ph.D.

  • Director
  • Phone: (807) 766-7294
  • Email:

Elaine Wiersma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, completing an MA and PhD from the University of Waterloo.  Having spent many years working with older adults in practice and research, particularly individuals with dementia, Elaine's research aims to tell people's stories in ways that challenge stereotypes and misconceptions of older people, particularly persons with dementia.  Advocacy, inclusion, and rights form the fundamental values underlying her work with people with dementia.  Using critical qualitative methodologies, her research spans community and long-term care, exploring aging and dementia care, contexts of rural and northern communities, and quality of life issues.  Originally from southern Ontario, she has been living in Thunder Bay since 2004.  When Elaine is not working, she can be found in her garden or hiking with camera in hand, and spending time with her family.


Ruth Wilford, HBA

  • Education Planner
  • Phone: (807) 766-7298
  • Email:

Ruth Wilford is a Knowledge Translation Lead/ Education Planner with the Centre. As such, she helps to plan and facilitate educational programs for formal and informal care providers of older adults with mental health needs.  This work is done in collaboration with many local, regional and provincial partners of CERAH.  Ruth is also the project manager for the CIHR grant "Developing a Self-Management Program for People Living with Dementia" as well as the  project coordinator for the Thunder Bay Age Friendly Project.  She played an active role in the Alzheimer Society of Canada-funded project exploring the dementia context in rural northern Ontario, and the Ontario Research Coalition of Centres/Institutes on Aging-funded pilot project on self-management and dementia and was the project lead for the Age-Friendly Thunder Bay.


 Stephanie Hendrickson, HBSW, MSW, RSW

  • Education Planner
  • Phone: (807) 766-7182
  • Email:

Stephanie Hendrickson HBSW, MSW, RSW, completed her masterÙs in social work practicum at CERAH on the Quality Palliative Care in Long-Term Care research project in 2011. Her masterÙs project was based on an adult learning experience entitled "Improving Communication around Death and Dying for Personal Support Workers in Long-Term Care Using High-Fidelity Simulation." Stephanie has also worked as a research assistant on the Improving End-of-Life Care in First Nations Communities project. Currently, Stephanie is the lead palliative care education planner at CERAH. 


Jessica Wyatt, BEd, MA

  • Education Planner
  • Phone: (807) 766-7263
  • Email:

Jessica Wyatt completed a Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts with a specialization in Women's Studies at Lakehead University.  She began working at CERAH as a Palliative Care Education Planner in 2008.  She has a keen interest in curriculum development and using technology to deliver education to local regional health care providers. When she is not at work Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, hiking with her two golden retrievers, and documenting her experiences with her Canon DSLR.


Deb Riddell

  • Educational Initiatives Assistant
  • Phone: (807) 766-7271
  • Email:

Deb is the Education Initiatives Assistant and she has been working at the Centre since 2001.  She is responsible for all office administration and provides assistance to all full and part-time staff.  Deb is an integral part of the daily activities at the Centre and a key contributor to all educational events.


Holly Prince, MSW

  • Project Manager and Co-Investigator
  • Phone: (807) 766-7274
  • Email:

Holly Prince is the Project Manager and a Co-Investigator on the Improving End-of-Life Care in First Nations Communities project. She has a MasterÙs degree in Social Work from Lakehead University and a Native Mental Health Worker Diploma from Confederation College. She is married and is the mother of three beautiful children. She is also a member of the Red Rock Indian Band.

HollyÙs research expertise is in community-based and applied health services research using participatory methods. Her research focus is on palliative and end-of-life care, health and aging with Indigenous people and improving access to end-of-life care with First NationÙs people by creating culturally relevant health programs and policies.


Kim Ramsbottom

  • Education Planner
  • Phone (807) 766-7297
  • Email:






Melody Wawia, BA, BEd, MEd.

  • Project Coordinator
  • Phone: (807) 766-7273
  • Email:

Melody Wawia, MEd., is an Ojibwe woman from Red Rock Indian Band, Lake Helen Reserve. Melody is a three time graduate of Lakehead University, recently completing her Master of Education where her studies focused on issues in Aboriginal Education. She is employed as a Project Coordinator at Lakehead UniversityÙs Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health on this 5-year CIHR Aboriginal Health Intervention grant, focusing on improving end-of-life care in First NationÙs communities.