Our Team

Dr. Francine Darroch, Principal Investigator
Francine Darroch’s research focuses on equity-oriented health promotion with populations experiencing marginalization. Specifically, she examines social determinants of health, Indigenous health, maternal health, and the intersections of sex, race, gender, colonialism, and violence. Her current research aims to address inequities in physical activity for urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous pregnant women and parents with the goal to improve quality of life and overall health. This work addresses individual, systemic, and structural barriers to health. Francine has secondary but active interests in gender and sport, including female distance runners and their experiences of pregnancy as well as examining controversial policies around gender verification in athletics. Overall, her research is committed to social justice and health equity.


Dr. Colleen Varcoe, Co-Investigator
Colleen Varcoe is a professor in the University of British Columbia School of Nursing. Her work aims to decrease inequity and violence including interpersonal and structural forms of violence such as racism and poverty. Her completed research includes studies of risks and health effects of violence and how to promote health for women who experience violence, especially Indigenous women. She has studied how to promote equity-oriented healthcare (cultural safety, harm reduction, and trauma- and violence-informed care) at the organizational level and worked with various Indigenous communities, organizations and issues, including in health care and criminal justice contexts.


Michelle Paquette, Taking Steps Advisory Board and Research Co-Facilitator, Vancouver


Lucy Maria Giron, Taking Steps Advisory Board and Research Co-Facilitator, Vancouver
Lucy Maria Giron is the mother of two boys. She has been working for YWCA Crabtree Corner as Kitchen Coordinator for the last fourteen years. She loves that Taking Steps motivates the women in our community to practice self-care and have a healthy lifestyle. Maria’s positive outlook and big voice always keeps us motivated as we walk around the neighbourhood.


Jessica Webb, Former Aboriginal Infant Development Consultant Crabtree Corner
After graduating from the University of British Columbia in 2013, Jessica spent six years working with women and children in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. She is a co-founder of Taking Steps: Warrior Women’s Wellness program – a coalition projection between YWCA Crabtree Corner and UBC School of Nursing. Jessica is currently in her first year Master of Arts in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr. Francine Darroch and Dr. Audrey Giles studying the role of physical activity and fathers’ wellness in the DTES. In her free time Jessica likes singing karaoke, tending to her plants and all things Beyoncé.


Gabriela Montaner, Taking Steps Project Coordinator, Vancouver Gabriela was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. She completed her BA in Health Studies at the University of British Columbia, Okangan where she became motivated to pursue a Master’s degree in public health. Before heading back to school, she worked in various capacities supporting folks facing challenges associated with mental health, substance use, and housing. Gabriela recently completed her Master’s degree in public health with a focus in social inequities from Simon Fraser University. During her time off she spends time in her garden and biking or hiking in the mountains.