Heart Fit Clinic Biographies

Kuira Jackson – Kinesiologist

Kuira graduated from the University of Calgary in 2020 with a Bachelor in Kinesiology (Honours). While in school she was generous with her time by volunteering at the Sports Medicine Clinic at U of C, the Autism Asberger’s Friendship Society, the Thrive Center and Wellspring Calgary. Her own personal health journey peaked her interest in holistic health and wanting to get to the root cause of her issues. Now working at Heart Fit, she is able to share her passion for learning by educating patients about their heart health. She specializes in providing patients with External Counterpulsation (ECP), one of our leading treatments here at Heart Fit. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling and spending meaningful time with her friends and family.
Favorite Quote: “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are” ~Max Depree

Jenny Saunders- Registered Nurse and Holistic Nutritionist

Jenny graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing from Mount Royal and Athabasca University in 2009. She has 9 years of experience working as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency room and the Cardiorespiratory Unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. She is also a Certified Holistic Nutritionist. She is passionate about educating patients on how to incorporate food as medicine into their diet and optimizing health holistically with the purpose of preventing and reversing disease. Working at Heart Fit is a perfect opportunity to provide patients with the education and treatments in a comprehensive and sustainable way. She strives to understand her clients goals and unique health challenges in order to help them embrace healthier habits. Jenny loves being outdoors and spends many weeks in the mountains hiking and biking with her family.
Favorite Quote: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today. Let us begin”. ~ Mother Teresa

Zain Velji – Registered Nurse

Zain graduated from the University of Calgary in 2015 with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and then in 2018 with a Bachelors of Nursing. After recognizing the lack of public education on heart disease she began working at Heart Fit Clinic, where she enjoys being able to provide people with comprehensive education about cardiovascular disease. She works closely with patients to understand their health journeys, helping them achieve their health goals, and watching them improve their lifestyles.
Zain also works on an acute cardiology unit with Alberta Health Services which highlights the importance for her to address cardiovascular disease with proper diet, exercise, and education. She is now working on a Masters in Public Health as she is passionate about health inequalities and identifying gaps in the healthcare system. In her free time, Zain volunteers with the Prostate Cancer Center at The Man Van. She also enjoys climbing and can often be found bouldering at The Calgary Climbing Center.
Favorite Quote: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light” ~Albus Dumbledore

Diamond Fernandes- Founder & Owner

Diamond graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Science Health Physiology in 1997. He is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He has since completed Cardiology Module (2019) and the Fellowship in Advanced Metabolic Cardiovascular Certification (2020) from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine/ Metabolic Medical Institute. He is also completing his Fellowship in Anti-Aging, Metabolic and Functional Medicine.
He started at Total Cardiology in Calgary (Formerly the Cardiac Wellness Institute of Calgary) in 1999. From there he was recruited to Dubai to start a cardiac rehabilitation program in 2005, then moved to Kelowna in 2006 to manage their cardiac rehabilitation program.
When his father had a heart attack at 38 years old, Diamond made it his personal mission to help his father along with thousands of others living with cardiovascular disease. This inspired him to live out his passion and start the Heart Fit Clinic in 2007.
He serves as an executive board member for the Canadian Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation (CACR). He also is a member of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP), and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
He is the author of Beating Heart Disease – 5 Powerful Pillars to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and is excited to complete his upcoming book Death of the Stress Test.
Favorite Quote: “Arteries are a muscle, not a pipe” ~Diamond Fernandes

Tanya Kurich – Nurse Practitioner & Medical Director

Tanya has been licensed as a Nurse Practitioner in Alberta since 2015. Her career journey started in 2006 as a Registered Nurse in Cardiology which quickly led to her work in the Coronary ICU for 6 years. She later moved on to the role of Cardiac Navigator at the Mazankowski Heart Institute, where she honed her ability to look at the bigger picture in healthcare; here she realized how complex navigating the system can be for patients who need specialty cardiac care. Prior to coming to the Heart Fit Clinic, Tanya developed a strong clinical acumen as part of the South Health Campus’ Internal Medicine team for the past 5 years. Her experience working with chronic disease was rewarding but also revealing, as she recognized the limits of working within a traditional and reactive setting. This inspired her to educate herself further on prevention, nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle management that could ultimately change the way health care is delivered and improve the day to day sense of well-being for her clients. At Heart Fit, the goal is to “get to the heart of the problem”, making this truly a heart fit for Tanya personally and professionally.

Tanya’s research interests have included the unique symptom presentation of South Asians with coronary artery disease which was inspired by her own father’s journey living with heart disease. Outside of work, Tanya finds joy in cooking, gardening, yoga, hiking, exploring the world, and has a voracious appetite for lifelong learning.

Favorite Quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” ~ Gandhi

Michelle Jopek

Prior to joining the Heart Fit Clinic, Michelle previously worked in administration for an investment office. Now as the face of our Calgary clinic, she enjoys being part of an environment that helps people live a better quality life, while making new connections everyday. As the Client Care Coordinator, Michelle pays great attention to detail to ensure every client is well taken care of. Her contagious smile, positive attitude, and effortless style make everyone feel welcome! Outside of work, Michelle has a passion for making people feel their best through the art of makeup. She also loves hiking, yoga, and fishing!
Favorite Quote: “Wake up every morning and choose love” ~ Jay Shetty

Vancouver Team

Dr. Collette Melo

I am the Nurse Practitioner Medical Director for the Heart Fit Clinic in Burnaby. I had the unfortunate but life-changing experience as a young child of having my step-father pass away suddenly from a heart attack when he was in his 40s. However, I believe that experience was the driving force behind achieving higher education in cardiovascular care and preventative medicine. I have specialized in cardiovascular care, along with having a secondary passion for reversal of type II diabetes, for over 20 years now.
There are so many things I love about working at Heart Fit! It is a real pleasure to work with a team so dedicated to improving health, a team that focuses on the whole person and not just the disease! But, if I had to choose one main “perk” it is that I get to play a role in supporting, educating and motivating patients to be proactive in taking charge of their own health… the positive outcomes are amazing!
When I am not doing what I love at the clinic you can find me outside landscaping or doing home renovations. I am a results oriented person, so anything that gives me a “before” and “after” brings me joy (Can you see why I love my job!).
I look forward to being a part of your life changing experience.

Catherine Taino

I’m Catherine and I’m a professional nurturer of hearts of all shapes and sizes or in short, a registered nurse. I am entrusted with the responsibility of learning what makes each individual heart beat, becoming acquainted with the person behind it, then caring for it based on its own unique needs. Being naturally driven by my own love muscle, the Heart Fit Family allows me to do what I truly love, which is taking the time to really get to know you and ensuring that you always feel comfortable and cared for (while of course adding my share of humour and laughter while we’re at it!). Having exposure to the most innovative technology and specified practices accounts for continuous learning and exciting, unpredictable work days. Outside of the clinic, what keeps my blood pumping is being a full time mom to my two fur babies: a Pomeranian and a Collie/Shitzu cross and religiously monitoring the scores of all sports from football to tennis. You can find me taking my dogs on a stroll, exploring a new cuisine or on the courts shooting hoops!

Katie Lister

I am a Program Nurse at the Heart Fit Clinic in Vancouver. I have been a Registered Nurse for seven years with wide ranging experience prior to joining the Heart Fit team in November 2020. I am passionate about preventative medicine, improving people’s vitality and reducing the risk of detrimental health outcomes. It is so rewarding to be part of the innovative, holistic, and individualized approach we use that positively impacts patients’ quality of life.
I love outdoor activities and spending time in nature. In my free time you will find me biking (including commuting to work), running, climbing, swimming, paddling, skiing, hiking, and camping. I also love travelling, learning new things, reading, and spending time with my partner and friends.