The University of Winnipeg congratulates Elder Ruth Christie, one of 12 outstanding Manitobans recently inducted into the Order of Manitoba.
Christie is a distinguished community-based scholar, knowledge keeper, and storyteller who has influenced generations through her important work in public history and as a mentor.
She has a wealth of knowledge, she is generous with her time and her knowledge, and she unfailingly responds to curiosity.
Dr. Mary Jane McCallum
In 2019, The University of Winnipeg recognized Christie with an Honorary Doctor of Laws for her enduring commitment to sharing Indigenous history, for her support of Indigenous communities, and for mentoring scholars and young adults through her role as an Elder and historian.
“I am very proud that her work is being recognized,” said Dr. James Currie, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor. “She is a remarkable Elder and historian who has dedicated her life to supporting Indigenous communities and mentoring others.”
Christie’s fundamental work has been forms of healing, not only as a licensed practical nurse, but in the setting of public history. Her love of history and storytelling began from her early experiences while growing up in the small community of Loon Straits on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
Descended from Selkirk settlers as well as Indigenous ancestors, Christie has a formidable command of northern Cree and Ojibwa cultures and is well-versed in nineteenth-century material culture and social relations. Her family history is a key resource of her stories, including that of her great-great grandfather Joseph Monkman, who was involved in the signing of Treaty One. She is also the great granddaughter of John Ramsay, who was Cree, an expert hunter, and canoe-maker. Christie uses her scholarship and her storytelling to address ignorance and racism, and to honour her ancestors.
Her talent for story telling was an asset at Lower Fort Garry, where she worked as a historical interpreter at the Parks Canada National Historical Site, portraying her own great-great grandmother, Isabella Monkman. Over time, she brought history to life for more than 500,000 visitors.
Christie’s expertise has been called upon by scholars and she has influenced many academics — such as when she presented at the University of Oxford as part of the Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies colloquium in 2002, and when she traveled to Iceland in 2003 as part of the Icelandic National League’s International Visits Program. She received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal in 2002, awarded in Canada to nominees who contributed to public life.
“The work Elder Ruth Christie has done in her love of local and Indigenous history, and in her generosity in teaching others, is well-deserving of an Order of Manitoba,” said Dr. Mary Jane McCallum, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous People, History and Archives. “She embodies what I admire most about educators: she has a wealth of knowledge, she is generous with her time and her knowledge, and she unfailingly responds to curiosity.”
The Order of Manitoba was established in 1999 to honour Manitobans who have demonstrated excellence and achievement, thereby enriching the social, cultural, or economic well-being of the province and its residents.
The University also extends congratulations to Ava Kobrinsky, who graduated from The UWinnipeg Collegiate in 1965. She is a force in the cultivation, nurturing, and flourishing of contemporary folk music in Manitoba and Canada, and is one of the founding directors of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Visit Order of Manitoba for a full list of recipients.