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Board of Directors



Elaine Dicken - I was diagnosed with IBM in 2014 after searching for reasons why I was not walking properly and falling more than I should.  Within in a year I became a Director of Myositis Canada.  I recently became President when Gael James resigned.  Starting a charity for a rare disease is challenging, so my focus for the coming year is to establish how many members we have and attempt to establish support groups in each province.



My name is Barb Power and I have been living with dermatomyositis since 2017 and feel very fortunate that I was diagnosed quickly which has allowed me to receive good treatment. I have recently retired from owning and operating a retail establishment after 30 years. I have sat on a couple of boards in the industry. I hope that my experience will help to bring awareness of myositis as well as offer support to those living with the disease. Contact Barb at


Gael James was diagnosed with Polymyositis in 1995 and is eternally grateful for modern medicine and that she has lived in countries with medicare (Canada, the UK, Australia and Taiwan). Gael's goal for Myositis Canada is to provide a safe and welcoming space for the newly diagnosed; to continue to support (online and in local groups) those living with and supporting those with myositis; and to raise awareness of myositis, particularly within the medical profession.


My name is Bernadette Simms, sister of Barb Power.  I sat on a Community Theatre Company Board for 30 years, including 4 years as President.  I was also a member of a Downtown Board for retail. With Barb, I ran a retail store for 30 years and am newly retired. I hope to be of some help to Myositis Canada and bring this little-known disease to the foreground. Contact Bernadette at


­­Shannon Venance, MD PhD, FRCPC received her PhD from Queen’s University and completed medical school and Neurology residency at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa.  Dr Venance is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. Her clinical expertise is in disorders of muscle. She maintains an active clinical practice and is interested in patient-centered qualitative research in muscle diseases. Dr Venance is a member of the Canadian Neuromuscular Group, a site investigator for the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry and is a certified electromyographer through the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists.


Sheldon Freelan. I’m a retired Doctor of Podiatric Medicine and have served on the Canadian & Ontario Podiatric Medical Associations during my career while maintaining practices in Mississauga, Brantford, & Whitby, Ontario.  I’m married with five adult children, five granddaughters and three grandsons.  I love to travel, attend the theatre, sports & pleasure reading.  I was diagnosed with IBM in 2018 and hope to bring my knowledge and expertise in working with Boards and other organizations to Myositis Canada.


Thomas Wood is a retired engineer who was diagnosed with IBM in 2018 after several years of concerns addressed as other medical issues.  He worked in the Ontario government and petroleum & petrochemical industries specializing in environmental issues and auditing, & served on various industrial organizations’ environmental issues groups as a company representative.  Once retired, he used that experience and training to review safety guidelines for various charities, & help new Canadians and recent graduates to develop job search skills.  He brings public relations and leadership abilities to Myositis Canada to assist in raising awareness of our disease that is unfamiliar to the general public and our medical community.

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