Cameron Adams won a Young Humanitarian Award in 2019 for his work developing a Cree language app and his multiple volunteer trips with Habitat for Humanity. Now, he is on a mission to encourage his peers to become blood donors in a campaign that runs April 1 to June 30.
We can’t study our people, we have to be part of the community of our people.
A student in The University of Winnipeg’s Integrated Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts, Adams is on track to be the first UWinnipeg student to graduate with a minor in Indigenous Languages. This newly created program provides him with the tools and knowledge to propel his commitment to Indigenous language revitalization.
For Adams, whose family is from Norway House First Nation and Berens River First Nation, this program is a perfect fit. He has been passionate about learning Cree since high school when he began connecting with Cree literacy resources online and his Nana bought him a Cree dictionary on a trip to the city.
As his understanding of Cree language and history increased, so did his strong sense of kinship and empathy for others. In his first semester of university, Adams began volunteering with Bear Clan. The experience made him realize how closely connected Manitobans are.
As he walks downtown Winnipeg between classes, he no longer sees strangers, he sees people and wonders how many degrees of separation there is between them and someone he knows or is related to.
“We can’t study our people, we have to be part of the community of our people,” he said.
The more he learned Indigenous language and connected with Elders to hear their stories, the more Adams wanted to give back to the community. Since 2018, he has funneled some of this passion for community service toward giving blood.
“This is a very easy way to give back to the broader community,” he said.
Assignment Saving Lives
Adams has joined a group of volunteers across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta in an initiative called Assignment Saving Lives. Participating students need to recruit a minimum of 15 unique blood donors to become eligible for a chance to win a $1,250 bursary, as well as other prizes.
While this provides a fun challenge for Adams, he says that his drive to raise awareness goes beyond the competition.
“My goal is to recruit approximately 200 people to join my team,” he said. “Blood donation is very important because so many people need blood each day across Canada. Less than four per cent of eligible donors sustain Canada’s national blood system but 100,000 new donors are needed each year to help meet the needs of patients in Canada.”
For anyone feeling anxious about giving blood for the first time, he encourages them to think about the purpose of donating.
“Every 60 seconds, someone in Canada needs blood,” he said. “And it’s a very easy process. I watch everything and right when the needle goes in, I just take a quick look away.”
“Once you’ve downloaded the app, click on the Partners tab, Join Existing Team. Choose ‘Adams’ and join ASL-MB-Cameron Adams,” he said. “If you do not have the app, you can go onto myaccount.blood.ca and after you create an account, select Partners on the left side of the screen and type ADAMS to join my team.”
Adams also encourages his classmates to join the challenge by signing up at Assignment Saving Lives and creating their own team. Donors can donate at any Canadian Blood Services Donor Centre or Mobile Donation Event in Canada. Visit Canadian Blood Services for a list of donor centres in Winnipeg.