SASKATOON — Kayla DeMong and Jason Mercredi will be taking on new roles at Prairie Harm Reduction and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, MN-S announced Tuesday.
DeMong will replace Mercredi at PHR after being promoted from associate director to executive director while the latter will be the new Homelessness Manager of MN-S.
PHR board chair Sheena McCallion thanked the service of Mercredi at PHR and his excellent stewardship of the organization then welcomed the permanent appointment of DeMong.
“Under his [Mercredi] leadership, we have experienced unprecedented growth and development, offering vital new programming through the most challenging times for Saskatoon’s at-risk citizens. We wish him the best as he applies his considerable skills and energy in his next endeavours. We are pleased to have Kayla step in as executive director and anticipate continued success for PHR,” said McCallion.
DeMong is thankful for her appointment as PHR’s new head.
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead [PHR] and to continue to support the incredible work of PHR in our community. This is a time of immense growth and change for PHR and I am excited to take on the challenge,” DeMong added.
Mercredi says he is pleased with the gains made at PHR and also expressed satisfaction with DeMong’s appointment as his replacement.
“Seeing how Saskatchewan has embraced [PHR] over the last nine years: the policy, programming, awareness and advocacy we have developed and implemented, I am content with my time at the organization. Kayla is the right person to lead this organization into the future and I look forward to donating to PHR and purchasing their next line of clothing,” said Mercredi.
He expressed excitement in taking on new challenges at MN-S as they try to address homelessness in rural, remote and northern settings.
MN-S president Glen McCallum greeted the addition of Mercredi to their organization with enthusiasm.
“Addressing homelessness is a priority for our [MN-S] government, and we have a great team in our Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. [Mercredi] is an excellent addition with his 17 years of experience in community-based organizations, and during that time, he has shown great leadership, ideas, ability and compassion. We are pleased to welcome Jason to work within our Métis government. We are determined to engage with our Métis citizens to accomplish great things together for our Métis communities,” said McCallum.
DeMong, who earned a diploma in addictions counselling in 2008 at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, has been provided support to families, youth and children in Saskatoon for the past 15 years.
She has spent the last nine years with PHR focusing on harm reduction programming with families and youth. She is on the board for Quint Saskatoon, Station 20 West and the Community-University Institute for Social Research.
DeMong, a mother of two, has spent her entire life in Saskatoon and has also been in recovery from substance use disorder for 18 years.
Mercredi, meanwhile, is the co-founder of Canada's National HIV Testing Day (2018) and wrote the policy to introduce safer smoking supplies into Saskatchewan needle exchanges (2018). He successfully advocated for the provincial expansion of the take-home naloxone program (2019) and opened Saskatchewan's first safe consumption site (2020).
He also wrote the policy to increase earnings exemptions for people on social assistance (2019), was the project lead for Canada's first Indigenous language condom campaign (2017) and worked in partnership with the Saskatchewan provincial government to establish drug checking services in Saskatchewan.
Mercredi is of Denesuline, Métis and Scottish ancestry and is a member of the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation. He was born and raised in Treaty 6 Territory and the traditional homelands of the Métis.
PHR is a national harm reduction organization that is focused on improving the quality of life for all members of the community, emphasizing local action with national impact.
MNS is the recognized government of the Métis Nation in Saskatchewan that is built on a foundation of Métis identity, culture, values and language. MN-S works to advance Métis rights and recognition.
MN–S represents the political, socioeconomic, cultural and educational interests of more than 80,000 Métis in the province through an elected representative system at local, regional and provincial levels.