The past year was an exciting one at The University of Winnipeg! We kicked the year off with our first Open House since 2020 – just one of many great events we were happy to have back this year. We were also thrilled to see the return of the Graduation Pow Wow after a four-year absence. For the first time ever, the University’s Eagle Staff, a sacred symbol representing traditional Indigenous culture, led the way into the Graduation Pow Wow.
Several milestones were also celebrated this year, including the five-year anniversary of the Pathways to Graduate Studies program, which has opened the door for dozens of Indigenous students to gain valuable research opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Three-Minute Thesis Competition turned 10, while the University of Winnipeg Collegiate celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Some very special guests visited campus in 2023, including world-renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Sylvester James “Jim” Gates, Jr., Elder David Daniels, a respected Anishinaabe Knowledge Keeper and Elder, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who held a special public town hall.
Commitment and action
From Pride Week to World Refugee Day to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and more, UWinnipeg honoured, celebrated, and amplified the voices of all people through campus events and concrete commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and reconciliation.
UWinnipeg became an official signatory of the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education. We also received the inaugural Tri-Agency Robbins-Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity, as well as Stage 1 – Foundation recognition from their Dimensions program, which recognizes post-secondary institutions seeking to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus and across the research ecosystem.
In April, UWinnipeg participated in a re-signing ceremony for the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint, an official partnership dedicated to advancing 10 commitments informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.
The UWinnipeg 2SLGBTQ+ Solidarity Collective organized the successful Building Trans Solidarity event series, which brought academics, educators, students, and artists together to unpack contemporary issues facing transgender, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming communities; celebrate their resiliency; and work toward an inclusive, discrimination-free future.
Praise for students and alumni
Many of our talented and inspiring students and alumni are working for a better world and making major contributions in their fields, and we are so proud of the important work they’re doing in our communities. Here are just some of our all-star students and alumni.
Indigenous Languages student Cameron Adams was one of 20 Canadian post-secondary students to be named a McCall MacBain Scholar in 2023. Adams worked with Elders and other community members to create the n-dialect language app, nēhinawēwin, which familiarizes users with Swampy Cree words and phrases.
Jenna Allison and Liam Reid were the recipients of the Sir William Stephenson Scholarship this academic year, Adrianna Strempler and Tim Rozovsky were this year’s recipients of the Dr. and Mrs. Roderick Hunter Scholarship, and Maddy Nowosad received the prestigious Mayor’s Medal from Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham.
Five graduate students – Annie Martel, Hassan Abdulkadir, Isabella Lu, Ayomide Fatogun, and Pranav Sadana – received $12,000 Master’s Studentship Awards through Research Manitoba’s 2023 Grants and Awards Competition.
In May, UWinnipeg recognized and celebrated its Indigenous students, faculty, and community at the 2023 Honouring Indigenous Achievement event, which highlighted the academic success and community contributions of Indigenous community members and more than 40 Indigenous graduating students.
Among a multitude of alumni achievements, UWinnipeg graduate Sarah Anderson, received the Change-Maker Award from Neurological Health Charities Canada for her efforts to make campus more accessible to users of wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Anderson’s More Than a Door Campaign led to the purchase 78 automatic door openers for UWinnipeg campus buildings.
The University of Winnipeg Alumni Association recognized John Olfert and Robert Stuebing as the recipients of the Association’s highest honour, the Distinguished Alumni Award, during the June and October Convocations, respectively. Olfert has helped shape Winnipeg’s sports and entertainment community as President and Chief Operating Officer of True North Sports + Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club (True North). Stuebing is a passionate, dedicated, and community-minded entrepreneur whose commitment to giving back has positively impacted the lives of university students and alumni across Canada.
UWinnipeg faculty continued to break new ground and achieve excellence in 2023. Professor Dr. Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk co-authored a new children’s book, Peyton & Charlie Challenge Math, to help kids tackle math anxiety, while Dr. Anna Stokke launched a new podcast exploring the importance of mathematics and effective teaching methods called Chalk & Talk. Dr. Andrew Burke archived and digitized a collection of beloved vintage Kern-Hill Furniture ads.
The research of UWinnipeg’s eminent social psychologist, Dr. Beverley Fehr, was featured this year on CBC’s Nature of Things. In April, the Associate Dean of the UWinnipeg Library, Emma Hill Kepron, became a Jeopardy! Champion.
Faculty publications included Dr. Shauna MacKinnon’s new book, Indigenous Resistance & Development in Winnipeg, 1960-2000, and Dr. Fiona Joy Green’s eighth book, Coming Into Being: Mothers on Finding and Realizing Feminism. Dr. Mary Jane Logan McCallum’s book, Nii Ndahlohke: Boys’ and Girls’ Work at Mount Elgin Industrial School was shortlisted for an Indigenous Literature Award, and Dr. Sarah Heath received the Best Article of the Year Award from the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation.
In March, Dr. Chantal Fiola was one of five women honoured at the Âpihtawikosisân Iskwêwak: Honouring Métis Matriarchs event in Ottawa. In April, Dr. Félix Mathieu was awarded the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal, one of Canada’s most prestigious academic prizes. In June, Dr. Mary Jane Logan McCallum was honoured by with the 2023 Public History Prize for her ongoing work on the Manitoba Indigenous Tuberculosis History Project, which helps Indigenous families and communities searching for loved ones who never returned from Indian hospitals and sanatoriums in Manitoba.
Learning and discovering
Whether they were building a compact satellite to learn how space conditions affect the appearance of the surfaces of asteroids and the Moon, playing an integral role in the development of a next-generation intraoperative MRI system, or helping to develop innovative, socially-informed energy storage solutions to help Canada advance towards the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, UWinnipeg faculty and students were at the forefront of many cutting-edge research projects this year.
Dr. Renée Douville and collaborators received a $125,000 Discovery Grant from the ALS Society of Canada and Brain Canada in March for research studying ALS from a viral perspective, which could have a significant impact on therapeutic treatments for patients with ALS.
Funding also came in for several other UWinnipeg research projects in 2023, including $130,344 in funding for a new lab to conduct cutting-edge neuroscience research, a three-year, $2,100,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Subatomic Physics Project Grant to Dr. Jeff Martin, more than $1.3 million in Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada funding, and $199,000 each to Dr. Chantal Fiola and Dr. Mirjana Roksandic in Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grants.
The Faculty of Graduate Studies celebrated the largest-ever cohort of the Indigenous Summer Scholars Program, which engages Indigenous students in their third or fourth year of undergraduate study in a variety of mentored research projects while they explore the possibilities of graduate studies. This year’s research projects delved into topics as diverse as urban planning, lunar and Martian exploration, Inuit language practices, and the effects of carbon dioxide on fish.
UWinnipeg was once again a leader in sustainability and environmental research this year.
Preliminary results from Dr. Darshani Kumaragamage and her research team could have positive implications for nutrient-overloaded Lake Winnipeg and other local bodies of water. They are studying how agricultural soil amendments may help to significantly reduce phosphorus runoff during the annual spring melt.
The Hudson Bay Lowlands are experiencing some of the most rapid climatic change in the world and are projected to warm at a rate three to four times the global average in the coming decades. Dr. Nora Casson was one of eight authors of a 2023 paper providing a big picture look at these ecosystems, which offers a better understanding of how climate trends relate to each other in the area.
UWinnpeg also had the privilege to attend, host, or co-host some excellent environmental science events this year, like the 51st annual meeting of the North American Society for Bat Research in Winnipeg, and the annual joint conference for the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution and the Canadian Botanical Association.
Arts on campus
The past year provided ample opportunity for students, faculty and community members to experience UWinnipeg’s thriving arts scene.
UWinnipeg was part of the Planet Love exhibition, a “life affirming, joy generating” exhibition that showcased etchings reproduced on brass plates affixed to public places around Winnipeg, including one on the UWinnipeg campus.
Gallery 1C03 hosted several exhibits this year. The Brings to Light exhibition, created by alumna Jaimie Isaac, shared a personal story of inter-generational Indigenous experiences of trauma, memory, resiliency, and reclamation in response to the legacy of the residential school system and colonial structures. UWinnipeg student Irene Chan, curated Within and Beyond Tradition: Works by East Asian Artists in The University of Winnipeg Collection to celebrate Asian heritage Month in May. Jennifer Still, a former Carol Shields Writer-In-Residence, showcased her collaborative work on grief with legs.
In February, UWinnipeg’s Acting III: Honours class performed in a production of The Secret in the Wings, and senior theatre students designed, crewed, and performed From Up Here in March. In November, the fourth-year Honours Devised Theatre class presented Re-Wire(d): An Evening of Solo Performances, and the Department of Theatre and Film presented Stupid Fucking Bird, directed by Associate Professor Christopher Brauer.
Record year for Wesmen
The Winnipeg Wesmen men’s basketball team had their finest season in nearly 30 years, finishing as runners-up in the Canada West conference, and advancing to the eight-team national championship tournament for the first time since 1994. Shawn Maranan was named a conference all-star and Alberto Gordo was named to the conference all-rookie team after standout seasons.
The Wesmen women’s volleyball team had a breakout year with its best record in nearly two decades, winning 18 of 24 conference matches, their best winning percentage since 2003-04. They beat Fraser Valley in a first-round playoff series and advanced to their first conference Final Four since 2011-12.
Left side Emma Parker was named a Canada West first-team all-star as well as a second-team all-Canadian, the first time in her career. Additionally, head coach Phil Hudson was named the Canada West coach of the year, the first of his career.
Two Wesmen teams put themselves in the discussion of the top teams in Canada early on in the 2023-24 season. The Wesmen men’s basketball and men’s volleyball teams both currently sit in the top 10 in Canada. The men’s basketball team, currently sixth, rose as high as third in the U Sports national rankings, while the men’s volleyball squad currently sits fifth, having gone as high as fourth in the weekly national poll.
Working for the community
In June, UWinnipeg celebrated one of the most successful scholarship campaigns in its recent history and the creation of the Susan A. Thompson Scholarship for Women in Leadership. The new scholarship will support a female student in any area of study who is pursuing or has future aspirations of serving in a leadership role within their community.
The inaugural edition of Pawaatamihk: Journal of Métis Thinkers was launched at UWinnipeg in September. This open-access journal showcases Métis thought inside and outside the academy, with sections dedicated to Community Stories, Poetry, and Visual Culture, as well as Book Reviews and Scholarly Papers.
In November, Knowledge Keepers, academics, community researchers, and students celebrated the launch of AMO, an interactive app and teacher’s guide undertaken as part of The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak (Rocky Cree) language revitalization project. The app and teacher’s guide are based on a picture book, Amō’s Sapotawan, and are intended to reconnect contemporary and future Asiniskaw Īthiniwak (Rocky Cree) to their history, language, and culture.
As the year winds to a close, we extend a huge thank-you to our staff, faculty, students, and community partners for helping us make 2023 another excellent year at UWinnipeg.
We wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, and look forward to another year of learning, growing, and belonging in 2024.