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CBC: Future 40 Under 40

November 19, 2018 — 

CBC is doing its annual Future 40 under 40 and like always, U of M community members are a part of it. 

Group 4

  • Delaney C.T. Coelho, BA (Adv)/11 
  • Melinda Fowler-Woods – U of M staff, director, Ongomiizwin (Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing)
  • Saroj Niraula – assistant professor, department of internal medicine
  • Meaghan J. Pauls, B.Env.D/10, MLArch/16 
  • Desiree Scott, BA/16

Delaney Coelho

Delaney Coelho would be very happy to shut down the Manitoba organization she founded.

But for now, she says, there’s a distinct need for Equal Voice Manitoba. It’s the provincial chapter of a multi-partisan national network focused on supporting the participation of women in politics.

“There’s a study out there … that says if things continue to go as they are, it’s going to be another 50 years before we see anything remotely close to [gender] parity,” in politics, Coelho said.

“I’m far too impatient for that. So the hope is that Equal Voice and organizations like Equal Voice can speed that up. I don’t want to be 70 or 80 before parity is achieved.”

To that end, Coelho, 30, founded Equal Voice Manitoba in 2016. It offers a range of programming for women interested in politics — either running as candidates themselves or working in roles such as campaign management. That includes full-day “campaign schools” that focus on tangible skills as well as networking.

The idea is to counter the under-representation of women in all levels of politics — something Coelho saw herself when she worked as a staffer for Manitoba’s previous NDP government.

“In my experience, I’d often be … the only woman in the room, or be at events with ministers from across the country where there were no women or people of colour represented,” said Coelho, who now works with Manitoba’s Human Rights Commission.

“It definitely feels isolating — like maybe your perspective isn’t being presented  or if it is [kind of the burden is on your shoulders to be the only one to speak for all women.”

That’s a problem, she says, when “obviously, women are pretty diverse in their perspectives and ideas, and if you’re kind of the spokesperson for all women, that’s maybe not the greatest fit.”

Equal Voice, she says, also has a role to play in fighting the harassment of women in politics — many instances of which have come to light in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do is create a community in Manitoba, and more broadly, where people can speak up about these situations that are happening, and bring them … to the forefront. They’ve always been happening and continue to happen, but they maybe haven’t been talked about,” she said.

“And then also just creating a greater conversation about how, as the electorate, we’re just not going to accept that any more. It’s completely unacceptable to have an environment where … 51 per cent of the population is made to feel that they don’t belong.”

There are some signs of progress. In the most recent Manitoba municipal elections, for example, the number of female elected officials grew three per cent over 2014. Nevertheless, women fill just one-fifth of roles in Manitoba’s municipal governments.

“The political institution was created without thinking of women’s participation, because women could not run at that time,” Coelho said.

“So there needs to kind of be a change in the system, but also just around the general conversation.”

That can take time — but she hopes Equal Voice will help spur those conversations and speed the progress.

“Ideally, in five to 10 years, I would love to be able to dissolve Equal Voice because our mandate has been achieved,” she said.

“But political institutions have been … male-dominated for a long time and they’re slow to change, so it’s obviously important that we stick around and kind of push to speed change up a little bit.”

Melinda Fowler-Woods

Melinda Fowler-Woods, a Métis-Mi’kmaq woman who grew up on Canada’s  East Coast, is the director of Ongomiizwin education at the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing.

She received her bachelor of nursing and then her doctor of chiropractic degrees, and finally her medical degree and family medicine residency when studying at McMaster University. Now, she holds multiple appointments on boards, such as the U of M’s department of community health sciences and the department of family medicine, and is active in clinical teaching at the Mount Carmel and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation clinics.

Dr. Fowler-Woods also enjoys surgical assisting and has hospital privileges across Winnipeg to allow her to help in the operating room.

She has also helped to organize and host a three-day “medical school entrance interview” workshop for Indigenous medical school applicants when she joined the University of Manitoba faculty in 2016.

Along with the support of the Ongomiizwin Institute of Health and Healing, Dr. Fowler-Woods plans to host this event annually as a tool for supporting and encouraging Indigenous students who are applying to medicine at the University of Manitoba so that they can be successful in their interviews, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of Indigenous medical students. 

Currently, she is in her fourth year of traditional medicine studies.

Meaghan Pauls 

Meaghan Pauls strives to create a community that is loving, accepting and one that creates space for otherness and difference.

Five years ago, she founded the Bell Tower Community Café. She describes the café as an urban food bank wrapped in a community café. By combining a food bank with a coffee house, she has helped create the most human food bank experience possible.

Every second Friday at Westminster United Church, Pauls and a team of volunteers provide a hot meal and live music for upwards of 150 people. Some come to receive a food hamper, and others come for a shared meal. To Pauls, the café is a way to tackle the issue of food and hunger within an open and welcoming environment.

In addition to running the Bell Tower Community Café, she also volunteers at Madison House, St. Benedict’s Church and on the board for the housing co-op through All Saints Church, and is a successful professional designer.

Desiree Scott 

Winnipeg-born Desiree Scott is well known as one of the most decorated Canadian soccer players of her generation.

She played for multiple youth Canadian national teams before coming to the University of Manitoba to play as a member of the Bison women’s soccer team, having an illustrious five-year university career (2005-2009). She proved her fierce determination as a midfield asset and earned the nickname “The Destroyer.

In 2010, Scott was named to the Canadian women’s soccer national team and since then has appeared in 135 international matches. She has demonstrated her outstanding skills, earning back-to-back Olympic bronze medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics. She has also attained the highest level of women’s professional soccer playing for various international clubs.

An outstanding ambassador of our city, province and country, she has been an athlete ambassador for the Homeless World Cup and KidSport Winnipeg for several years and also makes frequent visits to clubs, schools, and other sports organizations. 

Additionally, she has taken several volunteer assistant coach positions for the clubs and teams she was a part of growing up. She also served as the honorary chair of the 2017 U Sports women’s soccer national championship, which was hosted by the University of Manitoba for the first time in our province since this prestigious tournament launched nearly three decades ago.

Saroj Niraula

A medical oncologist originally from Nepal, Dr. Niraula’s potential was recognized with an International Development and Education Award a few years ago from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the largest organization of cancer physicians globally, offering him the opportunity to spend time in a cancer centre in San Francisco.

This led him to recognize the unfortunate global cancer health disparity — whereas in Nepal, many people were dying due to lack of the basics of cancer care, millions of dollars were spent in low-value health care in North America.

He decided to equip himself with advanced training in cancer research, examine strategies to minimize the harms and maximize the value of cancer treatments, and play a role in improving access and outcomes for cancer patients globally.

Currently, Dr. Niraula serves Manitoban cancer patients as a practising medical oncologist with a focus in breast cancer treatment and as a scientist at CancerCare Manitoba and the University of Manitoba. He holds major leadership roles, including chairing the committee responsible for review and approval of new cancer drugs in Manitoba.

He has volunteered as a virtual mentor to cancer doctors from low- and middle-income countries, and serves in ASCO’s international wing as a member of the IDEA awards selection committee, which funds about 25 young oncologists annually from resource-deprived countries. His research articles and opinions appear frequently in international medical journals.

Group 3

  • Kobra Rahimi [JD/17]
  • Derrick Sanderson [BSc(Pharm)/08]
  • Dayna Steinfeld [BA(Hons)/09, JD/12]

Kobra Rahimi

Kobra Rahimi lived the first 14 years of her life in a refugee camp in Iraq. Since arriving in Canada, she has committed herself to turning her family’s struggles into opportunities to be a positive addition to the Winnipeg community. 

Passionate about higher education, Rahimi completed a degree at University of Winnipeg and then moved on to study law at the University of Manitoba. She received the Emerging Leaders Award for displaying exceptional leadership qualities within the university community.

In the past few months, she has become both a lawyer and mother, receiving her call to the bar in June following articles at Legal Aid and celebrating the birth of her daughter in October. 

Rahimi sits on boards including the Social Planning Council and Islamic Social Services. In 2014, she co-organized a rally of over 1,000 people to demand clean drinking water for Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

In 2016, she co-ordinated student placements at Welcome Place to assist asylum seekers, a program that continues. 

She regularly speaks at community events about her family’s story of displacement, loss and finding home and stability in Manitoba. Through her accomplishments, advocacy and daily work, Rahimi is an inspiration to young newcomer refugees.

Derrick Sanderson

Derrick Sanderson demonstrates exemplary leadership within the pharmacy profession.

As the regional pharmacy director of the Northern Health Region, he is one of only five pharmacy directors in the province and has many responsibilities looking after the large region. He has been in this role since April 2016 and he tirelessly advocates for health equity in the north.

He is a part of many provincial groups, including the group that helped to equalize the services received by care homes in the north, and the group that monitors and manages critical drug shortages for hospital patients. In 2014, he was elected to the board of the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba. He works diligently with the other board members to ensure that the mandate of public protection through safe pharmacy practices are met.

In an effort to decrease the opioid epidemic in Manitoba, Sanderson and the board made exempted codeine products (for example, Tylenol 1) available by prescription only and were awarded the Patient Safety Award in 2018.

He returned to his hometown after completing his pharmacy degree at University of Manitoba and has worked at The Pas Health Complex since 2008.

Dayna Steinfeld 

Dayna Steinfeld is a lawyer at Fillmore Riley LLP who uses her legal knowledge to give back to the community and to champion human rights. She practises in the areas of regulatory and administrative law and civil litigation, but she also makes the time to do pro bono work.

She’s currently acting as legal counsel for a coalition of organizations representing persons living in poverty, urban Indigenous people, persons living with mental illness and persons experiencing homelessness in the Supreme Court of Canada case R v. Le.

As a law student, Steinfeld was involved in the organization of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s first national event. Her brilliant legal mind led her to being chosen in the highly competitive process to work as a law clerk to a justice of the Supreme Court.

She now teaches a course on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at the University of Manitoba law school.

Her passionate commitment to human rights and social justice issues will have a far-reaching impact for individuals in our community.

Group 2

  • Janilyn Arsenio [BSc(Maj)/04, PhD/12], assistant professor, department of internal medicine and immunology, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Derrek Bentley, master’s student in Peace & Conflict Studies
  • Pamela Delisle [BFA/04, BSW/06]
  • Angeline Nelson [BSc/09]
  • Alex Singer, associate professor, department of family medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Amy Tung [BHEcol/07]

Janilyn Arsenio

Janilyn Arsenio is a scientist, Filipino-Canadian, devoted mom and wife. After completing her PhD at the University of Manitoba, she pursued post-doctoral training at the prestigious University of California San Diego, before returning back to the University of Manitoba. She is now an assistant professor in the university’s departments of internal medicine and immunology.

Her scientific expertise is with a cutting-edge technology that can investigate gene expression in a single cell. As the first person in Manitoba to use single-cell genomics, she is using her skill to study the function of immune cells and how they develop into specialized cell types like immune memory cells or the killer cells that attack cancers.

Her research will help to develop new strategies for vaccine design and in the treatment of infections, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. She is already having a broad impact on biomedical science in Manitoba. She has garnered recognition in the form of many local and national awards she has won as a young investigator.

Recognized as an emerging leader, Arsenio has been nominated for a prestigious Canada Research Chair. She is also passionate about diversity and inclusion in science. She is the vice-chair of the initiative WISDOM: Women in Science, Development, Outreach, and Mentorship, at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. She is a member of the Association for Women in Science (U.S.A.), and the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology. Through these venues, she works to promote greater engagement of women in science. 

Derrek Bentley

Derrek Bentley has devoted his life to social justice, education and helping others. While growing up francophone in Manitoba, he has dedicated his free time to bringing awareness to important causes. He founded the project A Homeless Night, which raises awareness of homelessness in Manitoba.

He continues to volunteer in many grassroots organizations, such as Conseil Jeunesse Provincial, and as a board member for Canadian Parents for French National, all while completing his master’s degree in peace and conflict studies. He works full-time at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as an assistant manager, further educating the public on crucial social issues.

Bentley has accomplished all of this while trying to heal after the murder of his brother in 2014. Long before that, and ever since, he has dedicated his life to promoting peace and social justice.

Bentley’s passion for others truly fits the definition of perseverance and selflessness. He is just getting started.

Pamela Delisle

More than 1,700 gifts ago, Pamela Delisle founded You Can’t Spoil a Baby — a 100 per cent volunteer-operated project that provides custom-made gifts to Manitoba families in need after the birth of a baby. It started small — with giving away her own children’s outgrown clothes — and has grown into a team of over 75 volunteers co-ordinated by Delisle who collect, create and deliver beautiful custom gifts to new parents.

These gifts are not just newborn items — they include clothing and items for the first year of a baby’s life. Delisle saw a gap and she has worked tirelessly since 2011 to help close it to the benefit of those 1,770 babies.

Not only is she an innovator, an advocate and an inspiration, she is also warm, kind and compassionate. Her background as a social worker in the women’s health field, her commitment to environmentalism and her determination to help marginalized families feel valued and cared for was the perfect combination to grow YCSAB into the dynamic volunteer network it is today.

She is proof that one simple idea acted upon can create countless opportunities for an entire community.

Angeline Nelson

Angeline Nelson is a Muskego Anishinaabekwe from Bigaawinashkoziibiing, Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation. Her interest in science, specifically in chemistry, from a young age led her to earn a bachelor of science in chemistry and zoology.

She has always wanted to create opportunities for other Indigenous youth to be engaged in science, have an opportunity to practise hands-on experiments and recognize their own potential. 

She considers herself a lifelong learner of Midewiwin teachings, Anishinaabemowin and cultural knowledge and the strength, resiliency and humility of Indigenous people who have a strong connection to who they are as Indigenous people. This has helped her to focus her efforts on language revitalization, creating opportunities for learning about culture, learning and teaching regalia making, and ensuring that programming for Indigenous youth is “Indigenized.”

Today, both her cultural connection and fascination with science have led her to her current role as the new director of community learning and engagement at the University of Winnipeg.

Nelson ensures that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth have multiple opportunities to be engaged in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programming from a young age, and that Indigenous people have opportunities to learn Indigenous languages and have a space to call their own on a university campus. Last year, she developed free women’s self-defence programming to create change for Indigenous women, especially for those who may be experiencing or have experienced violence. 

Dr. Alex Singer

Dr. Alex Singer is an associate professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Manitoba, where he leads the quality improvement and informatics curriculum. He trained at McGill University (Montreal) and University College Dublin (Ireland) before being recruited to Manitoba in 2010. 
Singer is Manitoba’s leading expert in electronic medical records (EMR). He is director of the Manitoba Primary Care Research Network, where his team is developing new ways of using EMR data to improve health-care delivery and advance health research in our province. For example, his team is using EMR data and cutting-edge machine learning technology to better define and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans, families of military service members and the general population. He is also using EMR data to track and study chronic disease, and to support the Choosing Wisely campaign for responsible testing and prescribing patterns. 
Since 2014, Singer has served as the Manitoba eHealth Family Physician Champion, representing the needs and interests of all Manitoba family physicians and reporting directly to the chief medical information officer of Manitoba. 
Singer is known among his colleagues for his boundless energy and “out of the box” approach to tackling big problems and hard questions in health care. Through his multiple roles and tireless dedication as a practising physician, clinician-teacher, eHealth Champion and director of the MaPCReN research program, he is paving new ways to improve health for all Manitobans. 

Amy Tung

Amy Tung is an inspiring young woman spreading love throughout Winnipeg.

Through her volunteer work at West Broadway Youth Outreach and Big Brothers Big Sisters Winnipeg, she found many non-profit organizations lack funding, awareness and engagement. In early 2018, she took matters into her own hands and started a business that will sustain itself and support Canadian charities — the I Am Love Project.

Every month, volunteers come together to create crystal intention bracelets in support of a charity that is making a big impact in the community. They select a new charity on a monthly basis. The I Am Love Project hosts pop-up yoga classes featuring different local teachers and venues and at the end of the month they deliver all proceeds to their chosen charity.

Within the last four months, we’ve raised over $10,000 for the Women’s Health Clinic, Turning Pages of Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, Make Music Matter and Westman Dreams for Kids Foundation.

“We create the chain of love with no beginning and ending. Love and support is continuous.”

Group 1

  • Lyle McKinnon [PhD(MedMicro)/09], an assistant professor in the department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases
  • Nathan Nickel, an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences 

Lyle McKinnon

Dr. Lyle McKinnon, born and raised in Winnipeg, is an assistant professor of in the departments of medical microbiology, infectious diseases and community health sciences at the University of Manitoba. He has made significant contributions to HIV-transmission research, including an assessment of HIV risk and incidence in male and female sex workers. He has published on specific immune responses to HIV crucial to HIV vaccine and disease progression research.

His body of research represents over 10 years of contributions to HIV immunology, particularly relevant to initial HIV infection with important implications for HIV prevention. Dr. McKinnon has published several research manuscripts in prestigious research journals in his field. He is currently studying HIV prevention and inflammation which has implications for inflammatory bowel disease.

While working in Kenya and South Africa, Dr. McKinnon engaged key populations around HIV research and prevention activities and as a result increased awareness of HIV risk and prevention measures. These outreach activities have brought international students to Manitoba, which increases the profile of medical microbiology research in Manitoba at the global level.

As a new investigator, Dr. McKinnon has already made leaps and bounds in our understanding of HIV risk and prevention and is rising star in the Canadian and international medical microbiology field.

Nathan Nickel

Dr. Nathan Nickel is an internationally recognized expert in population health research. As a scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy within the University of Manitoba, he uses big data to understand what works to promote health and well being among Manitobans. Dr. Nickel is the Population Health co-lead for the Manitoba DEVOTION Network, a team of researchers dedicated to understanding how early-life experiences shape lifelong health.

He developed an innovative new system to monitor and study infant feeding practices across Manitoba. He is a lead researcher for the Pathways to Health and Social Equity for Children (PATHS) program, studying over 600,000 children born in Manitoba over the past 30 years to understand the impact of social programs like full day kindergarten, social housing, and the Healthy Baby program.

Dr. Nickel is directing groundbreaking studies on substance use disorders and addiction. He led a 25-year study to inform Manitoba’s new mental health and addictions strategy, and is the Manitoba lead for the Canadian Student Tobacco Alcohol and Drug study.

He is currently leading a study of the health and social impacts of cannabis legalization. In 2017, Dr. Nickel was recognized as one of North America’s leading population health researchers with the Chipman Award for Health Research from the University of North Carolina. He serves on the executive council of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s health equity committee.

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