The University of Winnipeg Chapter of the Canadian Region of AISES (.caISES) has been recognized with the 2020 Stelvio J. Zanin Distinguished Chapter of the Year award.
This award recognizes work the student group has done over the past year to support fellow UWinnipeg Indigenous students studying science to excel in their studies.
Evan Loeb and Melissa Anderson launched .caISES at UWinnipeg in 2019, forming the first chapter on campus after learning about the program from alumnus Mark Abotossaway, who spoke at an Indigenous Students in Science event at UWinnipeg in 2018.
Leadership and mentorship recognized
Both Anderson and Loeb have now graduated from UWinnipeg. Anderson is moving on to graduate studies while Loeb is heading into dentistry. Loeb’s involvement in helping form the UWinnipeg chapter led to his being honoured with a Lifetime AISES Sequoyah Fellowship, recognizing his leadership, mentorship, and acts of service.
We aim to offer our services as a chapter to volunteer opportunities and to be visible to the community as Indigenous people thriving in STEM
Sharissa Neault (President), Josh Swain (Vice-President), Mo Crossman-Serb (Secretary), and Sidney Leggett (Treasurer) have taken on 2020 executive positions.
Physics professor Dr. Melanie Martin provides mentorship to the group, working as a faculty advisor as they establish themselves on campus.
“Evan and Melissa started this chapter in 2019. Less than a year later, I am not surprised these amazing students won chapter of the year,” she said. “Sharissa and Josh are keeping the students connected and making everyone feel welcome with traditional and science activities. I’m very proud of all they have done.”
The group is thrilled with the national recognition they’ve received.
Strengthening relationships while promoting STEM
Through UWinnipeg’s .caISES chapter, students have opportunities to take part in community events, attend leadership summits, and participate in .caISES gatherings and leadership conferences. They have been hosting monthly Zoom meetings to discuss STEM, as well as connecting socially with virtual Netflix parties and a virtual beading session.
“We are staying connected to each other in a fun way that strengthens relationships within the group, and we are working on having Zoom presentations where we talk about how science and Indigenous traditions come together,” said Neault. “This will include discussions on traditional foods, medicines, astronomy, and archaeology.”
“We aim to offer our services as a chapter to volunteer opportunities and to be visible to the community as Indigenous people thriving in STEM,” said Swain. “In doing so we can help inspire the next generation of Indigenous youth and provide students with volunteer experiences that will help connect them with their community.”
The group created an informative video to showcase some of the work they are doing to keep Indigenous students inspired and connected.
“As Indigenous students, we may feel that we have to choose between being academics and being traditionally Indigenous, but.caISES aims to show Indigenous students that they can be both. Indigenous people have always been scholars, we have always been scientists,” said Neault.
The University of Winnipeg is committed to supporting Indigenous students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), providing opportunities to grow their research and leadership skills through personalized programs such as Pathway to Graduate Studies and Indigenous Summer Scholars.
For more information about the UWinnipeg chapter, please contact: UW.caISES@gmail.com