Conference Speakers

Margaret Augustine
Assistant Professor, UPEI Faculty of Indigenous Knowledge, Education, Research, and Applied Studies 

"Indigenous Foodways of Turtle Island"

Participants will gain an understanding and awareness on the relationship that the Mi’kmaq have with Mother Earth and food; learn about efforts to reclaim traditional Indigenous foodways and resist the impact of colonization; and, learn about traditional Mi’kmaq foods and the stories behind particular recipes.

Dr. Catherine L. Mah
Canada Research Chair in Promoting Healthy Populations, Dalhousie University

"Consumer Food Environments, Healthy Diets, and a Healthier Society: An Introduction to Food Environments Research From a Social Perspective" 

Dr. Catherine L. Mah MD FRCPC PhD is an internationally recognized scholar in nutrition and food policy and is appointed to Health Canada’s Nutrition Science Advisory Committee. She has published widely in health and social science, including critical and empirical studies on the consumer food environment and its role in social equity in population diet, food access, and food affordability. In 2022, Dr. Mah was the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal from Nova Scotia for her service as an educator.


  • Canada Research Chair in Promoting Healthy Populations
  • Associate Professor in the School of Health Administration at Dalhousie University
  • Affiliate Scientist (Research), Nutrition & Food Services, Nova Scotia Health
  • Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Adjunct Professor, Saint Mary's University


The consumer food environment has a critical role in shaping food access, food affordability, and social equity. It is also a sociocultural determinant of population diet and individual dietary behaviour. Assessing consumer food environments can show us patterns of who holds power, how resources are distributed, and the scale and path of the challenge to achieve justice, because most of the policy levers to enact lasting change for healthier diets, healthier populations, and inclusive societies lie well outside of food. 

Following this presentation, participants will define the food environment and the consumer food environment; identify concepts from social theories as a framework for assessing and critically analyzing the social world and how it relates to population nutrition and diet; and, apply concepts from social analysis to expand our understanding of population nutrition and dietary determinants, particularly food affordability. 

Dr. Sukhinder Kaur Cheema
Pofessor of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUN)

"Maternal Nutrition and Future Generational Health"   
Dr. Cheema held the CIHR New Investigator Award (2001‐2006) and has received several other awards for  her research. She has served on the Advisory Board for the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes. She is currently the Vice-President (Research), and President-Elect, Canadian Nutrition Society. Her research focuses on how maternal diet influences pregnancy outcomes, the regulation of metabolic pathways associated with metabolic disorders, and the brain health of offspring. Her research incorporates both basic science and clinical research; she collaborates with clinicians on the importance of maternal nutrition, breast milk composition, and the future health of the newborn. She has received funding from SSHRC, CIHR, NSERC, CFI, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, hospital foundations, and industry for her research. She has served on CIHR, NSERC, and HSFC grant review panels, and is on the editorial board of international peer-reviewed journals. She has played a key role to establish collaborations between MUN and several universities in India, where she is promoting nutrition research and community outreach programs on healthy eating in order to improve outcomes of impoverished and vulnerable communities. As a scientist who is a racialized woman, she is dedicated to highlighting the barriers faced by historically excluded or marginalized groups working both within the field, and most impacted by nutrition‐based discrimination.  


  • Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador, St. John’s, NL, Canada  
  • Adjunct professor, Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 
  • Cross-appointed, Basic BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador, St. John’s, NL, Canada   


The concept of “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)” suggests that environmental exposures during early life, especially during the “in-utero” period, have permanent effects on the health outcomes of the offspring. This presentation will focus on the importance of maternal omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids intake on pregnancy outcomes, brain development/function, and metabolic regulation of the offspring. The translational aspects in relation to human breast milk composition and its association with the health outcomes of the newborn will also be presented.

Following this presentation, participants will understand the concept of “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease”, and why to focus on dietary fats; learn the importance of maternal omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids intake and its influence on pregnancy outcome, brain development, and offspring metabolic regulation; and, learn about the translational aspects of this work in relation to human studies.  

Dr. Ruth Harvie
Department of Human Nutrition, St. Francis Xavier University

"Using the gastrointestinal microbiome to personalize nutrition advice: are we there yet?"

Dr. Harvie has practiced as a clinical dietitian in her native New Zealand for ten years before commencing her PhD. Her master’s research examined the clinical effectiveness of a low FODMAP diet in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Her PhD, which was also completed through the University of Otago, extended this further by looking at IBS, dietary intake and the microbiome. She spent time at the Canadian Centre for the Human Microbiome and Probiotics in London, Ontario under the mentorship of Jeremy Burton and Gregor Reid. She recently received a Research Nova Scotia New Health Investigator Award to evaluate the impact of including virtual dietary education within an electronic irritable bowel syndrome pathway. She researches in the dietary management of IBS and IBD and is interested in foodservice solutions for clinical nutrition problems.


  • Assistant professor, Human Nutrition, St Francis Xavier University


This presentation will introduce the gastrointestinal microbiome as a highly individual ecosystem which can modulate the effect of food via metabolizing fibre and other food components. While currently we are unable to personalize dietary interventions based upon knowledge of the gastrointestinal microbiome, this is a potential application. Dietitians can prepare themselves for working in this area by having a detailed knowledge of food, and especially of fibre containing foods and understanding biochemical pathways. Clinical areas where this could be incorporated include inflammatory bowel diseases and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Following this presentation, participants will describe the gastrointestinal microbiome as an ecosystem; explain that it is more valuable to understand the function of microbes within the microbiome than their names; discuss why it is important to have a diverse range of fibre sources; and, describe how knowledge of the gastrointestinal microbiome might lead to personalized nutrition recommendations.