Saving brains, saving lives

Introducing the Heart & Stroke stroke council

A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of your brain, causing damage to the surrounding brain cells which can’t be repaired or replaced. You lose an estimated 1.9 million brain cells every minute after onset of a stroke.

A stroke happens every nine minutes in Canada. When you get the right treatment quickly, the effects of a stroke can be minimized or even reversed. Without treatment, stroke can cause mild to severe disability — even death. 

More than 400,000 Canadians live with the effects of stroke.

Stroke can strike at any age, but occurs most frequently in the elderly. While we have come a long way in prevention and treatment, our aging population means the number of Canadians living with stroke is expected to almost double in the next 20 years.

That’s why Heart & Stroke has identified stroke as one of six disease areas where we see the greatest potential for impact (scroll down to learn more). The opportunities range from developing new solutions to diagnose, prevent and treat stroke, to advancing stroke rehabilitation and helping families living with its effects.

Council will guide action

The Heart & Stroke stroke council — half researchers and half community members — bring a range of backgrounds including lived experience of dementia or other cognitive problems (either themselves or in a loved one), policy, technology, philanthropy, and health care.

The group, led by two co-chairs, also reflects geographical representation (rural vs urban and provincial/regional), cultural diversity and first language (English/French). Additional considerations for research members included career stage, research focus and research/work setting, while occupation and specific skillsets were considered for community members.

Starting in January 2018, they will spend two years considering priorities and opportunities in preventing, treating, managing and recovering from stroke. 

Their knowledge and input will guide Heart & Stroke in determining how we can deliver the greatest impact for Canadians living with stroke, and their families.

Meet our co-chairs

Dr. Michael Hill, research co-chair: Dr. Michael Hill holds the Heart & Stroke professorship in stroke research at the University of Calgary and is director of the stroke unit for the Calgary Stroke Program. He is a renowned stroke researcher and neurologist, and recently led an international clinical trial that has revolutionized treatment for major strokes. 

Mike is dedicated to improving treatment and giving people living with stroke the best hope for a bright future. He is a dedicated mentor for teams working in the field of stroke, committed to reducing time to treatment, to minimize the impact of stroke on Canadian families. Mike brings an incredible breadth of leadership, passion and expertise to the stroke council.

Heather PurvisMs. Heather Purvis, community co-chair: Heather Purvis grew up in rural Manitoba and graduated from Science and Nursing at the University of Manitoba. Unfortunately, she suffered a spontaneous right vertebral artery dissection and stroke in 1999, which kept her from working for two years. During that time she earned her M.Sc. in Health Studies & Gerontology from the University of Waterloo.  

Since her stroke Heather has worked in cardiac care surgery, interventional radiology, geriatrics, healthcare software, and now she is the Patient Representative at CancerCare Manitoba. Her personal and professional background coupled with her lived experience is greatly valued in the stroke council.


Mr. Rick Adams (PEI): executive director - quality and safety, Health PEI; past executive director, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Community Hospitals East; past chief financial officer and director - corporate services, former Queens Health Region 

Mr. Jean-François Bélanger (Que.): chemist; pharmaceutical and medical devices expert; stroke survivor

Dr. Louise Clément (Ont.): Health Standards Organization (HSO), Accreditation Canada, executive director, Health Education Assessment and Clinical Partnerships; member, Canadian Stroke Best Practices advisory committee

Dr. Dale Corbett (Ont.): scientific director, Heart & Stroke Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, researcher, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa

Dr. Thalia Field (BC): stroke neurologist, Vancouver Stroke Program; University of British Columbia; member, Canadians Stroke Best Practice Recommendations writing group

Dr. Barry McLellan (Ont.): executive-in-residence, faculty of medicine, University of Toronto; past president/CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Dr. Patricia Petryshen (Ont.): epidemiologist; health systems executive; nurse scientist; stroke caregiver

Dr. Alexandre Poppe (Que.): Stroke neurologist, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal; clinical researcher and neurovascular fellowship director, Centre de recherche du CHUM (CRCHUM).

Ms. Pam Ramsay (BC): executive director, Lower Mainland Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Provincial Health Services Authority

Dr. Annie Rochette (Que.): researcher, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation (CRIR) of Greater Montreal; School of Rehabilitation, Univ. of Montreal; lead,; occupational therapist

Ms. Donna Sharman (Alta.): peer supporter for stroke survivors and their families; stroke survivor

Dr. Andrew Travers (NS): emergency physician, researcher; medical director, Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia

About Heart & Stroke mission critical areas

Heart & Stroke has adopted a new framework that will drive progress in what we are calling mission critical areas or MCAs. These are the six heart and stroke disease states that together represent the biggest burden — on Canadians’ health, on the economy and on society. 

The MCAs are not the only areas where Heart & Stroke works, but they reflect where we believe we can have the greatest impact. The six MCAs are:

The work of our six MCA councils will also feed into a strategic planning process underway at Heart & Stroke, to determine our direction as an organization.

More information