On this Louis Riel Day, The University of Winnipeg is proud to celebrate the achievements of the 113 Métis students who were awarded Louis Riel Bursaries during the 2022-23 academic year.
Since 1999, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and its educational arm, the Louis Riel Institute (LRI), through funding from Employment and Social Development Canada, have provided millions of dollars in bursaries to Métis students attending UWinnipeg.
“Congratulations to all of the future change makers who were awarded a Louis Riel Bursary,” said Angeline Nelson, Acting Lead of Indigenous Engagement and Wii Chiiwaakanak’s Director of Community Learning and Engagement. “On behalf of Indigenous Engagement, we are proud of the important connections with partners like the MMF that support so many Indigenous students on their academic journeys.”
Approximately 10 per cent of UWinnipeg students self-identify as Indigenous, and half of those students are Métis — among the highest participation rates across Canada.
Dominique Carrière – International Development Studies
Dominique Carrière wants to make a difference in her community.
Carrière, who’s been majoring in International Development Studies with a minor in Indigenous Studies since 2018, says the Louis Riel Bursary is extremely important for post-secondary Métis students.
“For Métis students, it allows us to perhaps learn more about our culture and build community through classes, services, clubs, events, and peers, as the University offers great opportunities and safe spaces for that,” she said.
The financial support that comes with this recognition is something that will also make a big difference for her on her academic journey.
“It allows me to focus more of my time on my classes and truly immerse myself in the material without having to be stressed out about having to work in order to pay for my tuition,” she said. “Therefore, it enriches my learning and helps me for my future.”
And that future, Carrière says, is one where she hopes to give back.
“I plan to work within a non-profit or grassroots organization in Winnipeg that promotes Indigenous and Métis wellbeing.”
Joy Makarchuk – Integrated Education Program
Joy Makarchuk says the Louis Riel Bursary is extremely important because it “provides motivation for Métis students to pursue a post-secondary education and shows that the University is here to support Métis students on their educational journey.”
This was the first time Makarchuk, who is a third-year student, applied for the bursary. She’s currently enrolled in the Faculty of Education’s Integrated Program, pursuing Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees.
She says the funding that comes with this recognition will help support her continued success at UWinnipeg.
“Receiving funding for school takes so much stress off me as a student, and it takes much financial stress off my family,” she said. “It also helps take the stress off of worrying about working extended hours to pay for schooling, so I can apply more effort to my academic success.”
When she finishes her undergraduate degree, Makarchuk hopes to start her career by teaching in the Interlake School Division.
She also has plans to pursue further studies down the road.
“I want to teach in the Interlake because I went to school there and I have worked in that school division, and I loved it, so it would be a pleasure to continue my career there,” she said. “After some time, I do plan on going back to school for my master’s degree and hopefully become a higher-class teacher.”
Brooke Buchan – Indigenous Studies
Brooke Buchan wants to break the many barriers Indigenous Peoples face in Canada.
“I want to advocate for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit land rights and educate people about Canada’s true history,” she said. “I especially want to work at a federal level fighting against Indigenous identity fraud that is taking Canadian institutions and parliaments by storm. I have a passion for advocacy and I want to use my voice to change Canada for the better.”
A first-year student majoring in Indigenous Studies, Buchan says the Louis Riel Bursary has a special meaning for her.
“For the longest time, I thought I was not Indigenous enough and I deeply internalized comments from people that said I wasn’t. There is so much beauty in being Métis and I want Métis students to love who they are and take pride in their heritage,” she said. “Having this support for Indigenous students is so important. It recognizes our shared history as Métis people and will encourage students to excel in their studies and give back to their communities and kin.”
In addition, she says the financial support that comes with the bursary will help her put more time towards her studies and less time worrying about tuition, textbooks, and additional fees.
“The University’s support is so wonderful because it tells me that Indigenous students have a place here and that we are supported.”
After finishing her undergraduate studies, Buchan plans on pursuing law school and becoming an Indigenous rights lawyer.
Cierra Bettens – Political Science
Cierra Bettens arrived at UWinnipeg in 2018 after graduating high school.
After initially enrolling in the Joint Communications Degree/Diploma program, she found a permanent home in the Department of Political Science.
Bettens says in addition to receiving the Louis Riel Bursary this academic year, she’s also been supported throughout her studies through the Louis Riel Institute and Manitoba Métis Federation’s Post-Secondary Education Support Program.
“It’s safe to say that my post-secondary experience would look very different without this continued support,” she said. “Offering the Louis Riel Bursary signals a demonstrated commitment from the University to support Métis students.”
Thanks to the financial assistance she’s received through awards and bursaries over the years, Bettens was able to complete her degree without any student debt.
“With my tuition covered, I’ve been able to take on opportunities related to my degree while not having to work as many hours or needing to apply for student loans,” she said. “It’s comforting to know that other Métis students will be able to study at The University of Winnipeg with fewer financial barriers.”
It’s also allowed her to pursue many exciting opportunities outside of her studies, including working for The Uniter. She also had an “incredibly rewarding” internship with the Winnipeg Free Press, where she had the opportunity to spotlight the work of Indigenous artists, curators, and leaders.
Bettens plans on taking the next year off, while also continuing to work as a writer, editor, and research assistant, before pursuing graduate studies.
“I’m hoping to further my career in journalism or work in academia.”
Rielle Miller – Human Rights
Rielle Miller is passionate about human rights.
After arriving at UWinnipeg in 2015 and initially studying environmental sciences, Miller became more intrigued by the broader political happenings of the world and found her home in Global College’s Human Rights program.
“(The program) has nourished my interests and allowed me to progress my own research regarding the intersection of technology and human rights,” she explained.
This academic year was the second time Miller received the Louis Riel Bursary. She says the ability to re-apply each year shows the LRI is committed to helping Métis students achieve their academic dreams.
“The LRI is important for recognition of Métis culture and history, and the recognition is particularly important given the location of UWinnipeg,” she said. “The ability to access higher education and sharpen skills in turn nourishes the surrounding community while the values of dialogue, cooperation, and cultural awareness are promoted through the LRI and the contributions both by the MMF and UWinnipeg.”
Miller says the funds from the Louis Riel Bursary have allowed her to reduce working at part-time jobs, limit external stress, granted her the space to excel in her studies, and allowed her to spend more time with the Aboriginal Student Services Centre, where she is a writing tutor.
After she completes her undergraduate degree, Miller plans on pursuing graduate studies in international relations.
The Louis Riel Bursary is available to Métis students attending participating Manitoba universities. Students are eligible to apply for this award every year they are at UWinnipeg.