Improve the well-being of people affected by familial ataxia, contribute to research in promising treatments and bring together the community of interest in Canada.


A world where people diagnosed with ataxia can aspire to a fulfilling life thanks to advances in research, support, and inclusion within the Canadian community.


  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Dedication
  • Determination
  • Integrity


  • To advance research on familial ataxias in order to fight their causes and their effects.
  • To provide an association for people suffering from familial ataxias and those working with the disease, either as immediate caregivers or as health professionals and researchers.
  • To make health professionals, political decision-makers and the population in general aware of the disease and of its impact on the physical and psychological health of the victims as well as on the professional and financial aspects of their lives.
  • To inform the members and the partners in activities relating to familial ataxias (research, publications, activities, etc.) by editing a magazine.
  • To generate funds by means of fundraising campaigns, activities, voluntary subscriptions, requests for grants, shares and legacies, in order to realize the goals of the Association.


Claude St-Jean & Dr Barbeau

Dr Barbeau & Claude St-Jean


In 1972, Claude St-Jean, following an evaluation of his symptoms by Dr. Barbeau (a prominent person in the neurological field), was condemned to death. He did not accept it and in response to this diagnosis decided to found a scientific committee in order to begin medical research on the disease named “Friedreich’s ataxia” (as described in books by Dr. Nicolas Friedreich in 1882). During this era, doctors knew almost nothing about the disease and their interest in research was nonexistent. The same year, Claude founded the Canadian Association for Friedreich Ataxia. The holding of fundraisers was necessary to assure the financing of eventual medical research as well as to support a potential group of people presenting the same symptoms.

In 2003, the organization changed its name following the discovery of numerous other types of hereditary ataxia. It was then decided to bring together everyone afflicted with a hereditary ataxia (with an identified form or not) and to extend medical research to them.


Activity report 2023   2023  Financial statements ( French only audit)

Download previous year’s documentations

Activity report 2022   2022 Financial statements ( French only audit)

Activity report 2021   2021 Financial statements ( French only audit)

Activity report 2020  2020 Financial statements ( French only audit)

Activity report 2019    2019 Financial statements ( French only audit)

Board of directors

Jean Luk Pellerin

As the President of Ataxia Canada, Jean-Luk brings a unique blend of professional expertise and personal dedication to the cause of Ataxia awareness and support. Drawing from intimate family experience and extensive collaboration with partners and stakeholders, Jean-Luk possesses a profound understanding of the challenges faced by those affected by...

Sebastien Huynh

Masters Degree in Environment of Bordeaux I University (France), MBA ESG Paris e (France) and graduate of HEC Montréal, title of CPA-CMA. Financial executive with more than 15 years of international experience in Financial Analysis, Corporate Finance and Strategic Planning. Socially involved in several NGOs and interested in international exchanges.

André De Montigny

André De Montigny has been active as Vice-President, Business Development and member of the senior management teams of Via Rail, Téléglobe Canada, Vidéotron, CDPQ and Transat. He has realized numerous acquisitions and divestitures in Canada but mostly in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Moreover, he has been responsible for Transat’s strategic...

Nicolas Parent

Nicolas brings a unique combination of technical expertise and personal experience as a member of the board of directors of Ataxia Canada. With over 15 years of experience in financial and operational management of SMEs, he holds a graduate degree in accounting from UQTR and is a CPA. As an...

Sandy Sadler

Sandy Sadler is a healthcare professional and an experienced manager who has worked in several public and Para public sectors in Quebec as well as internationally. Having worked for many years as a physiotherapist, she has always been passionate about improving the quality of life for people with chronic physical...

Trinidad Ruiz

Trinidad Ruiz is a marketing professional who graduated from the University of Ottawa in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in International Management. Her professional background includes supply chain management and product marketing in various industries ranging from retail to government to electronic components. Trinidad has been a devoted volunteer throughout...

Nicolas Théberge

Nicolas Theberge is a John Molson School of Business alumni with 15 years of sales and marketing experience. Currently living in Calgary with his wife Bri and 2 kids Sebastien and Vincent, Nicolas is the Territory Manager for ResMed, a medical technology company focused on sleep and ventilation products.

Maryse Tremblay

Maryse Tremblay is a board member of Ataxia Canada, a renowned rare disease foundation dedicated to supporting individuals affected by hereditary ataxia. With a wealth of experience in ethics and compliance, Maryse brings a unique perspective and valuable expertise to the organization. Currently serving as the Vice President of Ethics...

Office Team

François-Olivier Théberge

Graduate in Mechanical Engineering from École Polytechnique de Montréal. François-Olivier has a varied professional background: engineering project manager, multidisciplinary team coaching, department director and entrepreneur. He is responsible for bridging the gap between scientists, researchers and other organizations working on ataxias.

Olga Karmanova

Graduated from McGill University and with a career of more than fifteen years in marketing for renowned brands and a few years in consulting, Olga found her passion in philanthropic work. She brought all her expertise to non-profit organizations to foster a culture of philanthropy and increase their financial autonomy.  Having lost...

Francine Lévesque

Francine has been working for more than 40 years as an administrative assistant. She worked for several companies, including a non-profit organization. Mother of a young ataxic, she is well aware of the vagaries of this disease and she has a very great motivation for the advancement of research.

Benoît Angers-Ste-Marie

Passionate about the power of words and the art of storytelling, Benoît Angers-Ste-Marie is a newcomer in the field of web writing. His professional background covers sales, science and finance. Creative and versatile, he excels in creating engaging and impactful content. This was his first experience in the field of...

Advisory committee

Susan Harding

Susan Harding lives in Ottawa and was diagnosed with an unknown SCA in 1992. Her mother and some of her siblings have had it too. In 2017, through a worldwide study called Care4Rare, she was diagnosed with SCA42. She tries to lead an active and healthy lifestyle to slow the...

Sakina Rehmanji

Sakina Rehmanji lives in the GTA in Ontario Canada. She has two teenage boys and one of them has Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA). She brings to the council her almost 10 years of experience dealing and coping with FA. Her son was diagnosed in 2009 and has participated in clinical trial...

Brittany Sommerfield

Brittany Sommerfield live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has Friedreich’s ataxia. Since her diagnosis in 2007, Brittany has taken part in three clinical trials with her sister. She attended multiple NAF conferences ,FARA symposiums , Philly rideATAXIA events and one CAFA symposium in London Ontario in 2013. Other than her volunteer...

Loiq Fortin

Loiq Fortin is a very enthusiastic young man who likes to work in a team. He’s been jovial since I was young and loves helping people. With ataxia, he tries to show people that there are many ways to look at things

Jessica Laneuville

Jessica has Friedreich’s ataxia. She is first and foremost, the mother of Kélyane 10 years who is in perfect health! She is positive and has been involved in the foundation for 10 years already! His goal on the advisory board is to improve the quality of life of ataxics! She...

André Allard

André Allard is a librarian with a master’s degree in public administration. He was chief librarian at Hôpital Notre-Dame and oversaw documentary services at the University Hospital of Montreal until November 2011. Since then, he has been self-employed and semi-retired. André has a member of his family with ataxia. He...

Brenda Dixon

Brenda was born in Montreal and moved to Vancouver, BC in 1968. She has Friedreich’s Ataxia. Brenda knew of Claude St. Jean Foundation in her last years in Montreal, and she had the pleasure of meeting Claude when he visited Vancouver in the 70’s.


Partners and financial supporters



in January 2014 the Canadian Association for Familial Ataxias (CAFA) – Claude St-Jean Foundation became Ataxia Canada – Claude St-Jean Foundation. We will continue to use both names for a period while the new name gradually replaces the old one. It is strongly suggested to use the name Ataxia Canada as follows:

  • Ataxia Canada – Claude St-Jean Foundation
  • Ataxia Canada
  • Claude St-Jean Foundation



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