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A UM graduate stands between the UM President and Vice-President (Indigenous), holding her diploma, at the graduation pow wow.

Momentum student Nicole Macintosh poses with UM President Michael Benarroch and Vice-President (Indigenous) Catherine Cook.

UM’s Blankstein Momentum Program assists in student success

Now accepting applications

June 23, 2023 — 

The Blankstein Momentum Program, offered by the Indigenous Student Centre, connects Indigenous students to UM resources they may not have known of or actively sought out on their own. Momentum uses a holistic approach that includes biweekly workshops (September – March), advisor meetings, access to tutors, group activities and cultural/spiritual care.

The program uses a “checklist” to help students stay on track, and those who complete the checklist requirements will be entered into a draw at the end of the year for a chance to win one of five $1000 tuition prizes.

ISC student advisor and program coordinator Denise Proulx says that having a program for Indigenous students, such as Momentum, that helps support them beyond their first year of university is important to their success.

“It helps build a community of peers, introduces students to caring staff and fosters a sense of belonging, says Proulx. “The safe and respectful environment of Momentum allows students to grow while becoming familiar with university resources, support and policies. It also aids in reducing the stigma behind receiving academic or personal support. Most importantly, it lets students know that they belong at university and that they are not alone.”

The goal of Momentum is to provide returning Indigenous students access to holistic programming that supports their post-secondary persistence, overall well-being, and personal success in a culturally inclusive environment.

Proulx says the overall concept is supported by the definition of the word momentum: If a process or movement gains momentum, it keeps developing or happening more quickly and is less likely to stop. Whether a student needs help getting back on track, elevating their GPA, or connecting with their Indigenous community, Momentum provides them with the tools they need to succeed.

UM student Nicole Macintosh was a part of this year’s group of Momentum students. Macintosh joined the Blankstein Momentum Program because she needed to increase her GPA before applying to the Asper School of Business.

 After learning some tips and tricks for studying, writing papers and time management skills, she fell in love with the program and returned for a second year.

“I learned some pretty cool things that I often incorporate into my study routine,” says Macintosh. “We did a lot of fun activities that made me feel like a kid again. For example, on Valentine’s Day we made sparkle shaker jars, and we went bowling for our wind-up event. It doesn’t get much more fun than that! I felt like I could just enjoy myself and live life a bit.”.

Macintosh loved connecting with her culture and says it gave her a greater understanding of who she is as an Indigenous human being.

Additionally, the program led her to be accountable for school. By fulfilling the program’s requirements, she built her own support network on campus and a toolbox of resources for support whenever she needed it.

“Denise was like an at-school-mom to me, I genuinely felt like she cared about my well-being and was always there when I needed someone. It’s nice to have that one person you know you can count on”, says Macintosh.

Macintosh was able to achieve her initial goal and was admitted into the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business in the fall of 2022.

“Without Blankstein, I would not have graduated so soon and would’ve struggled for a little bit longer. The program held me accountable and made me want to come to school and do my work.  That’s something I’m proud of,” says Macintosh.

For Proulx, the most rewarding thing about being the Momentum Coordinator is getting to walk alongside Indigenous students on their post-secondary journey.

“I enjoy watching students set goals for themselves, seek support and opportunities, and break down barriers on their way to achieving them. The program is everything I wish I’d had as a first-generation Indigenous student, and I’m honoured to be a small part of the Momentum  students’ experiences at UM.”

And Macintosh has some insight to share for other prospective Indigenous students looking to join the program.

“I say do it. If I was ever overwhelmed with life or having a bad day, I knew coming to a meeting that night would just ground me, and I’d always leave in a way better mood. Additionally, I met some cool people, both in terms of students and support on campus, so I would highly recommend doing it.

This program wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of UM Alumna Dr. Marjorie B. Blankstein. Through her career as a volunteer, Dr. Blankstein continues to advocate for Manitoba’s youth and has been instrumental in establishing many services. She has shared her passion with more than 300 community organizations, served on many boards and committees and received numerous honours for her service. Learn more about the Marjorie Blankstein Indigenous Leadership Scholarship.


Applications for the Blankstein Momentum program are now open and close August 11. To learn more and for details on how to apply, visit the UM website.



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