The University of Winnipeg



UWinnipeg presents 2024 Honouring Indigenous Achievement Awards

People stand in a line, wrapped in colourful blankets

Members of the UWinnipeg Indigenous community being honoured at the May 24 Honouring Indigenous Achievement event.

On Friday, May 24, The University of Winnipeg honoured several members of our Indigenous community at the 2024 Honouring Indigenous Achievement event.

This important annual event is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous students, faculty, and staff, as well as to gather and honour this year’s award recipients.

Staff and Faculty Awards were newly established this year, and given to three outstanding individuals. The Staff and Faculty Awards were created to acknowledge, uplift, and celebrate the efforts of Indigenous members of the University Community.

Congratulations to all the 2024 Honouring Indigenous Achievement Award recipients.


Holly Plouffe in front of Star blanket

Holly Plouffe

Holly Plouffe – Staff Award

Holly Plouffe is an Office Assistant in UW Printing & Parking Services, who started working at UWinnipeg in 1990.

“I feel blessed to have connected and felt welcomed with a sense of belonging in the UW Indigenous and Aboriginal community through Pow Wow Club; Feasts at ASSC, Cultural classes at Wii Chiiwaakanak and most recently the MMF Beading club and the new friendships that are gained.”



Karen Froman in front of Star blanket

Karen Froman

Karen Froman – Faculty Award

Karen is of mixed Kanyen’keha:ka (Mohawk) and Irish/English/Dutch ancestry, is a registered member of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (Ontario), and was born and raised in Winnipeg. Her father and his siblings were survivors of the Mohawk Institute and struggled to pass on their language and culture.

“My research interests include urban Indigenous histories such as migration to urban areas, labour, and education, and my dissertation focussed on imagery and representations of Indigenous Peoples via the National Film Board in the mid-twentieth century.”


Yvonne Vizina in front of a Star blanket

Yvonne Vizina

Yvonne Vizina – Faculty Award

Yvonne is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at The University of Winnipeg, where she teaches Introduction to Indigenous Education (an Indigenous Course Requirement for Education) and Teaching for Sustainability.

Over the past several years, she has been researching traditional Indigenous teachings about human relationships with the Earth, including how those relationships affect our personal and collective well-being.



Ruby Maria Shirley Bruce in front of a Star blanket

Ruby Maria Shirley Bruce

Ruby Maria Shirley Bruce – Undergraduate Award

Ruby Bruce (She/They) is an acclaimed Red River Métis and Anishinaabe artist, art educator, proud mother, and aspiring teacher. Ruby is from the Métis community of St. Laurent, Manitoba, and is also known by her spirit name, Zhaawenoodin (Southern Wind).

Ruby has made a lasting presence in both the art world and UWinnipeg academic circles. Ruby teaches people of all ages through their explorations and understandings of themes surrounding Indigenous identity, resilience, and environmental reverence. Ruby conducts a plethora of art workshops on and off campus, including those that foster cultural awareness and engagement.


Julie Hiebert in front of a Star blanket

Julie Hiebert

Julie Hiebert – Graduate Award

Julie is an Anishinaabe woman—a daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, learner, and scholar. Her mother is of English descent, and her father is from Peguis First Nation. It is through this mixed Indigenous ancestry that she has come to reside in Treaty 1 territory.

She embarked on the path of higher education to enhance her skills and knowledge, aiming to contribute more to her community. In 2020, she was accepted into the Criminal Justice graduate program at the University of Winnipeg, with a goal to make space and pathways for future Indigenous individuals pursuing similar goals.


Daniel Nychuk – Graduate Award

Daniel Nychuk is a Métis (Citizen of the Manitoba Métis Federation) man born the youngest of three siblings. He comes from rural Manitoba on a family farm. He has an undergraduate degree in accounting and finance and is graduating from The University of Winnipeg’s Masters in Development Practice-Indigenous Development (MDP) program in the fall of 2024.

“I hope to use the foundation of knowledge and relationships I have developed through my undergrad and the MDP program in my future career in development practice. I am grateful that I have been nominated for such a prestigious award. It is truly an honour.”


Mohamed “Mo” Crossman-Serb in front of a Star blanket

Mohamed “Mo” Crossman-Serb

Mohamed “Mo” Crossman-Serb – Graduate Award

Mohamed “Mo” Crossman-Serb is a Red River Métis on his mother’s side and Libyan on his father’s side. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Mo graduated in 2019 from The University of Winnipeg with a double major in Kinesiology and Chemistry.

“After graduation, three friends and I founded Waterways, a non-profit that runs land-based programming for Indigenous youth across Manitoba. I am currently finishing my final year of the University’s MDP program, and hope to continue working with communities in community development, recreation, and the environment.”



Ryleigh Todd-Moore in front of a Star blanket

Ryleigh Todd-Moore

Ryleigh Todd-Moore – Ewaaskoziig Anongoonhs (Bright Star) Award

Ryleigh Todd-Moore (Red Buffalo) was born and raised in Winnipeg on Treaty 1, with family roots from Kinosao Sipi (Norway House Cree Nation) in Treaty 5. Ryleigh is a sundancer, jingle dress dancer, activist, and an entrepreneur.

“I plan to attend The University of Winnipeg in the upcoming year and begin my three-year BA in Anthropology. Eventually, I would like to attend the University of Manitoba to obtain my Master’s in Nursing, becoming a nurse practitioner, and work with Northern communities. One of my biggest goals in life is to inspire and uplift Indigenous youth.”


Kate Binesigichidaakwe McDonald in front of a Star blanket

Kate Binesigichidaakwe McDonald

Kate Binesigichidaakwe McDonald – Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre Award

Kate Binesigichidaakwe McDonald is a Red River Metis citizen who grew up away from her family & community. Her great-grandparents were the last first language speakers of Anishinaabemowin and Michif in her family. Learning Anishinaabemowin has been Kate’s way of finding her way back home.

She first started her language learning journey at Wii Chiiwaakanak and is happy to be able to give back now as an instructor. She believes passionately in helping learners become speakers through creating a safe and fun learning environment where everyone feels welcome.


Shane Patterson in front of a Star blanket

Shane Patterson

Shane Patterson – Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew Scholarship for Culture, History and Language

Shane Patterson is an enrolled member of the great Ihanktowan Nation (Yankton Sioux Tribe), with ancestral lands hailing in the southeastern corner in the state of South Dakota.

“I represent the Ocheti Sakowin-Seven Council Fires of the great Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Nations. I was born and raised on my ancestral lands learning a plethora of ancestral and traditional knowledge under the guidance of my parents, extended family and relatives that took the opportunity to mentor me. There are numerous relatives that taught me, and I stand in gratitude for the transference and passing on of our ancestral knowledge.”


Myla Held – Weweni Future Scholar Award

Myla Held was born and raised on Treaty 1 territory, completed undergraduate (Classics and CJS) and graduate studies in CJS at The University of Winnipeg. Myla’s PhD studies are in Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

“As a queer, Indigenous person, LGBTQ+ and Indigenous discourses play a role in my research interests. I am grateful for the Weweni Future Scholars award and the opportunities it has provided to further my education and research. When I complete my doctoral studies, I hope to be a lecturer and researcher, continuing research in the intersectional discipline of dis/ability, accessibility, subcultures, decolonization, and LGBTQ+ discourse.”

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