On Friday, May 12, The University of Winnipeg was pleased to recognize and celebrate its Indigenous students, faculty, and community at the 2023 Honouring Indigenous Achievement event.
The ceremony highlighted the academic success and community contributions of Indigenous community members and more than 40 Indigenous graduating students. UWinnipeg looks forward to presenting degrees to more than 100 Indigenous graduates in both undergraduate and graduate programs at the 122nd Convocation in June.
“Through this event, we hold our language, culture, and academics high and are honoured to celebrate the achievements of graduates and award recipients as a community,” said Angeline Nelson, Acting Lead, Indigenous Engagement, and Director of Community Learning and Engagement, Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre.
The program featured fiddling by Jason Lepine, an honour song performed by Kyle Copenace, and a blessing and smudge led by Elder Sharon Pelletier. Each honoree was wrapped in a star quilt. Graduates’ quilts were made by Tricia Dano Crafts and award recipients’ quilts were made by Chantal Daniels.
“Always remember that your Indigenous voice is important, not only to your University of Winnipeg community but also within the greater community in which you are rooted,” said Tanis McLeod Kolisnyk, Coordinator, Aboriginal Student Services Centre.
Jason Parenteau received the Wii Chiiwaakanak Community Collaborator Award, which is given to a facilitator or volunteer who supports the Centre’s work. Parenteau, a member of the Moravian of the Thames Delaware Nation Band in Ontario and a Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu, is a self-defense instructor at the Centre and leads the Women’s Self-Defense program.
Ashton Hassan received the Ewaaskoziig Anongoonhs (Bright Star) Award, which is presented to a Model School student who demonstrates academic excellence and leadership, and a commitment to language and culture, during their time at the Collegiate. Hassan is a 2023 Collegiate graduate who will begin a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology this fall. He aspires to become a clinical psychologist and research neurodiversity.
Christy Bird (2022) and Daniel Richard (2023) received the Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew Scholarship for Culture, History, and Language, which was established in memory of the respected Anishinaabe leader and Elder, teacher, and healer to recognize students who demonstrate academic achievement, cultural activity, and leadership.
Bird, Anishinaabe and Cree from Peguis First Nation, recently completed her Master’s Degree in Indigenous Development at UWinnipeg. Richard, who is from Traverse Bay and grew up in Winnipeg, is working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a career working with youth in care.
Dr. Chantal Fiola was announced as the 2021-2024 recipient of UWinnipeg’s Distinguished Indigenous Scholar’s Chair, which promotes scholarly research by Indigenous faculty. Dr. Fiola is an award-winning author and Associate Professor in the Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies. In July, she will begin an appointment as Interim Associate Vice-President, Indigenous.
Dr. Todd Mondor, President and Vice-Chancellor, congratulated the award recipients and all graduating Indigenous students.
“The success demonstrated by this year’s Indigenous honorees is as impressive as it is inspiring,” Dr. Mondor said. “The University of Winnipeg is committed to the ongoing work of ensuring Indigenous knowledge and perspectives are honoured and celebrated.”