University of Winnipeg alum Charlie Eau received the 2SLGBTQ+ Student Award during their last year of Women’s and Gender Studies in 2021.
(The 2SLGBTQ+ Student Award) pushes back against the barriers we experience as queer students.
The award was created in 2018 by the UWinnipeg Alumni Association, with initial support from the Alumni Association’s Past Presidents’ Legacy Fund.
It’s now awarded annually to an undergraduate student who’s active in community service and/or demonstrates academic promise in research on topics with particular relevance to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“Receiving it was a really big deal for me, because I’m a single parent,” Eau said. “During my last term of school, that scholarship money that came in really made the difference for me to be able to have literally enough childcare and food on the table, and to focus on my school programs and get it done.”
Outside of the financial assistance, Eau says the 2SLGBTQ+ Student Award is extremely important because it “pushes back against the barriers we experience as queer students.”
Since starting their studies at UWinnipeg in the early 2000s, Eau says the University has come a very long way in becoming a more inclusive community. However, they added that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Eau is one of the founding members of Trans Manitoba, which is a grassroots group that filed a series of human rights complaints against the Province of Manitoba to address systemic inequities faced by Trans people.
Currently, the group is working to obtain an X marker for provincial IDs. They have already successfully obtained the X gender marker for drivers’ licenses through Manitoba Public Insurance.
“Right now, you can walk into MPI and say, ‘I’d like the following gender marker on my license,’” Eau explained. “But if you go Vital Statistics, they will tell you that you actually need to go ask your doctor to sign a piece of paper. So, there’s little details in legislation we still need to pull a part and change.”
During the start of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout last year, Eau and Trans Manitoba worked with Lorie English and Melissa McGregor from the West Central Women’s Resource Centre to provide a safe place for people of all genders to get vaccinated.
That eventually led to a partnership between the Centre and Trans Manitoba. And after working for the Centre for a few weeks, Eau was asked to join permanently as assistant director of community services.
“I am bringing my gender equity lens now to the work I’m doing in community services,” they said.
“I realized that graduating university was putting together all of the pieces of all of the work that I have been doing for nearly my whole life, so it’s important to myself and my family and my community that non-binary people have the opportunity to go out and work and make a living wage.”
To support the 2SLGBTQ+ Student Award, visit the UWinnipeg Foundation’s webpage.