The University of Winnipeg Alumni Association is proud to recognize Tina Keeper as the recipient of its highest honour, the Distinguished Alumni Award. She will be recognized at the 2020 Autumn Convocation celebration, which is taking place virtually on October 22 & 23.
Keeper is from the Inninuak of Norway House Cree Nation in the Treaty 5 territory and of the Muskrat Dam First Nation of the Treaty 9 territory. She is a film, television, and theatre producer; actor; advocate; and former Member of Parliament.
Her passion for the arts was influenced by her culture, and she explored theatre at the Winnipeg Indian & Métis Friendship Centre back in 1980, and through the acting program at The University of Winnipeg. She has a BA in theatre from The University of Winnipeg and trained at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, the Banff Centre, and the Sundance Institute.
Keeper won a Gemini award for acting in 1997 for her portrayal of RCMP Officer Michelle Kenidi in the long-running television series North of 60. She was the first Indigenous person to win a Gemini for a leading role on a TV series in Canada.
As an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Keeper co-produced the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s highly acclaimed ballet Going Home Star, guided by Indian Residential School Survivors.
Keeper served as a Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Churchill from 2006-2008. She was the first Indigenous woman to serve as a Member of Parliament from Manitoba. In 2008, she introduced a Private Member’s Bill into the House that would ensure Canadian laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and introduced a Private Member’s Bill regarding Jordan’s Principle to address First Nations children’s healthcare in Canada.
She serves on the board of directors for the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television; is an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and is a member of the Manitoba Coalition for MMIWG & 2SILGBTQ, the Order of Manitoba, and Canadians for a New Partnership.
Keeper is a recipient of an Aboriginal Achievement Award, a Gemini Award, a Canadian Civil Liberties Association Award for Public Engagement, a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal, and the Earl Grey Lifetime Achievement Award.
Judith Neumann, President of The University of Winnipeg Alumni Association said, “With her lifetime of work in the arts, politics and community activism, Tina Keeper is a role model and source of inspiration to Indigenous youth and all Manitobans. She exemplifies the very best of the spirit of The University of Winnipeg. In acknowledgement of her many impressive accomplishments, The University of Winnipeg Alumni Association is proud to recognize Tina Keeper as the recipient of its highest honour, the Distinguished Alumni Award.”