About Us/À Propos de Nous

The Canadian Association for Health Humanities exists to promote the exchange of ideas and critical dialogue among scholars and practitioners, as well as foster collaborative explorations nationally and internationally. Through meetings, publications and related activities, CAHH seeks to facilitate initiatives as well as interdisciplinary, cross-professional inquiry into research and educational practices relevant to the health humanities.

L'Association canadienne des sciences humaines en santé vise à promouvoir l'échange d'idées, à instaurer un dialogue critique entre chercheurs, enseignants et cliniciens, tout en facilitant les initiatives de collaboration tant à l'échelle nationale qu’internationale. Au moyen de rencontres, de publications et d'activités, l’ACSHS s’engage à soutenir les initiatives de collaboration interdisciplinaires et interprofessionnelles tant en matière de recherche que d’enseignement qui visent l’intégration des sciences humaines et sociales au sein des professions de la santé.

Current Officers/Dirigeants Actuels

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President: Sarah de leeuw

Sarah de Leeuw is currently President of the Canadian Association for Health Humanities and the Past President of the League of Canadian Poets. De Leeuw holds a Canada Research Chair in Humanities and Health Inequities and is a Professor in the University of Northern British Columbia’s Northern Medical Program, a distributed site of the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine.

A creative writer (poetry and literary non-fiction) and cultural-historical geographer, de Leeuw is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research, teaching, and activism focus broadly on colonial violence, marginalized peoples, and overlooked geographies. A member of the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health for more than 15 years, de Leeuw was appointed to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2017. Author of more than 105 peer-reviewed publications, from book chapters to journal articles and scholarly entries, de Leeuw was nominated in 2017 for a Governor General’s Literary Prize in non-fiction holds a Western Magazine Gold Award, two CBC Literary Prizes for creative non-fiction, and the Dorthey Livesay BC Book Prize for poetry. 

De Leeuw divides her time between Lheidli T’enneh/Dakelh Territory (Prince George) and Syilx Territory (Okanagan Centre), British Columbia.

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Treasurer: Ebru Ustundag

Ebru Ustundag is a critical feminist geographer interested in intersections of health/care and social justice as these relations unfold in various urban spaces. In St. Catharines, Ontario, she collaborates with various community partners and social agencies to facilitate radical collective action by building solidarities and alliances.

She is an Associate Professor of Geography at Brock University and a graduate faculty member in the interdisciplinary Master of Arts program in Social Justice and Equity Studies. Ustundag is also a member of the executive board of the Graphic Medicine International Collective (www. graphicmedicine.org) where she collaborates with other academics, health carers, patients, care givers, and comic artists to explore the interaction between the medium of comics and the discourses of healthcare. 

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Tracy Moniz is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has a PhD in Communication & Culture and a Master of Arts in Journalism.

As a researcher, she explores the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of arts and humanities in medical education. She considers how writing can advance patient- and family-centred care, focusing on (1) the uses of reflective writing to foster professionalism, communication, and empathy and (2) the lessons learned from the narratives that health professionals, patients, and family caregivers write about their experiences of illness and care. Her research has been published in JAMA, Academic Medicine, Medical Education, and Medical Humanities, among others.

As an educator, she coaches writers in various genres—from creative non-fiction to academic. She has expertise in narrative and life writing and facilitates workshops on arts and humanities teaching as well as writing for reflection and resilience across the health professions.

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Secretary: graham mccaffrey

Graham McCaffrey is an Associate Professor in Nursing at the University of Calgary. He joined the faculty in 2012 after completing a PhD dissertation that examined the role of nurses on mental health units using concepts from Zen Buddhism.

McCaffrey completed a history degree and then trained as a nurse at St Mary’s Hospital in London, England, in the 1980s. He worked for most of his clinical career in mental health and, after immigrating to Canada in 1995, specialised in older adult mental health. He is drawn to the role of language in therapeutic communication in mental health nursing and seeing how social, historical, and cultural pressures shape, and show up, in individual stories.

McCaffrey has written a book about the relationship between nursing and humanities and, in current research, is continuing with that theme and investigating how trauma-informed care is influencing practice in different mental health settings.

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Communications Officer: Benjamin Gagnon-Chainey

Benjamin Gagnon Chainey is a postdoctoral fellow in comparative literature and medical humanities at Dalhousie University, author, and physiotherapist. In 2022, he completed a doctorate in French-language literature, in joint supervision between the University of Montreal and Nottingham Trent University (UK), in which he explores the queer aesthetics of the embodied experiences of syphilis at the end of the 19th century, and of AIDS at the end of the 20th century, by comparing the literary works of Joris-Karl Huysmans and Hervé Guibert. Since 2020, he has been coordinating RéCITS, the International and Transversal Creation Network on Care. His research and creation texts, focusing on the experiences of illness and the relationships between literatures, arts, and cares in all their forms, have been published in the journals MuseMedusa, Fixxion, Interférences littéraires, Mœbius, SYNAPSIS: A Health. Humanities Journal, Lettres françaises, Corps et Spirale, as well as in three collective books: Hervé Guibert: L’envers du visible, published by Créaphis in 2022; Culture and Medicine: Critical Readings in the Health and Medical Humanities, published by Bloomsbury in 2022; and Infected Stories: Memory of a Suspended Time, published by XYZ Editions, in 2022. His first novel, Candy, was published in September 2022 by Éditions Héliotrope. 


Current Advisory Council/Conseil Consultatif Actuel

Past President: Tom Rosenal

Tom Rosenal is a critical care physician, retired from clinical practice after 27 years, who has been involved in research, education, and consulting in several related fields: health humanities, critical care, clinical informatics, and change management. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Critical Care Medicine, and Director, Arts & Humanities in Healthcare and Medicine, at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. He believes that physicians and other health professionals can see and feel and act their best towards patients and society when they understand their world in ways that artists and humanities scholars have grappled with for centuries.

Rosenal’s commitment to health humanities led him to develop the interdisciplinary group at the University of Calgary and to become the inaugural president of the Canadian Association for Health Humanities. When not falling off his bicycle, he likes watching oddly coloured visual binaries and reading poetry.

Clinical Health Professions Representative: Shane neilson

Shane Neilson is a poet, physician, and critic who originally hails from New Brunswick (territory of the Wolostoquey) but who now lives in Cambridge, Ontario and practices medicine in Guelph. Shane is the author of many books of poetry, non-fiction, and short fiction. He published The Suspect We, a collaboration with Roxanna Bennett, with Palimpsest in 2023, as well as the memoir Saving: A Doctor’s Struggle to Help his Children with Great Plains, also in 2023. With Alan Bleakley, he published the first scholarly book to consider the role of poetry in clinical medicine (Poetry in the Clinic: Towards a Lyrical Medicine, Routledge, 2022) and later in 2023 he will publish the first scholarly work considering the intersection of Canadian medicine and Canadian literature (Carelanding, Routledge, 2023). Shane identifies as a Maritimer, mad, and autistic.

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Clinical Health Professions Student Representative: rANDIP dHALIWAL

Randip Dhaliwal is a Doctor of Philosophy student at the University of Calgary. Her research centres around understanding the experience of grief through creative expression among individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness. As a registered nurse, Randip has worked in a multitude of different settings, including acute care, public health, and community health. She is most passionate about working alongside palliative care patients. Randip firmly believes in the importance of art and the role that it can play in understanding illness experiences.  

Randip is also passionate about equity, diversity, and inclusion and volunteers with organizations to promote adequate representation of equity-deserving groups within academia. Additionally, she has been recognized by the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services as an advocate and champion for mental health initiatives. In her free time, Randip enjoys painting, yoga, hiking, and watching reruns of The Office.  

Self-portait of Candace Couse

Arts & Humanities Representative: Candace Couse

Dr. Candace Couse (she/her) is an Interdisciplinary Humanities scholar and artist. Her research investigates Westernized thought in relationship with sickness through autobiographical accounts of illness narratives in visual art; interested in what these works do for the artists, viewers and broader understanding of health towards humanistic medicine. As an artist (MFA, University of Calgary), Couse brings her knowledge of art as a site of entanglement between rhetoric, poetry, and event to her research. Her practice has long been rooted in the materiality, and history of fibre-based work, which she integrates with video, large-scale installation, interactive sculptural works, collage, painting and more.

Couse has shown across Canada, the USA, UK, Switzerland, Italy, Trinidad, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Iceland, and she is an Assistant Professor in the School of Creative arts at the University of the Fraser Valley, located on unceded Stó:lō territory, where she has the honour of living and creating.

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International REpresentative: Sarah Nelson

Sarah Nelson is a health and medical geographer working across the social sciences and humanities. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in the traditional treaty lands of the UmoNhoN and Otoe-Missouria tribal nations, in the department of Geography & Geology and the Medical Humanities and Native American Studies programs. Her research spans Indigenous governance and community health, non-Indigenous allyship, teaching the social determinants of health, and cultural safety in health care. Nelson is originally from eastern Ontario, unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples, where she continues to do research and community advocacy with Algonquin communities. She has also lived and worked in Dakelh territory, in northern British Columbia, with Indigenous-led health organizations exploring their role in urban Indigenous communities. She is constantly inspired by the ways in which health humanities open up new perspectives on health, disease, health care, and how we understand one another at our most vulnerable moments.

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Public Representative: Jen Sebring

Jen Sebring (they/them) is a queer and chronically ill artist-researcher. Previously, Jen worked as an intern at Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art and at the greenhouse artlab while completing coursework in feminist theory, disability studies, and rhetoric. These experiences piqued an interest and regard for the arts and humanities and their power to inspire self- and social transformation.

In their academic work, Jen harnesses arts-based methods to explore the healthcare experiences of multiply-marginalized folks living with chronic illness/es. Academically and artistically, Jen’s work has been featured at venues such as Akimblog, Platform Gallery (Winnipeg, MB), Sociology of Health and Illness, and Still Living the Edges: A Disabled Women’s Reader. Jen lives as a white settler on Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, MB) with their wife, and spends most of their spare time tending to their ragtag band of critters, including 3 accident-prone guinea pigs and a cat appropriately named Lucipurr.

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Ex-Officio: Allison Crawford

Allison Crawford is a founding editor of Ars Medica, a literary journal of medicine, the arts, and humanities, published open access in Canada.