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Three of Canada’s most powerful and influential women: U of M's Joan Durrant, Joanne Keselman and Samia Barakat.

Three of Canada’s most powerful and influential women, awarded in 2013: U of M's Joan Durrant, Joanne Keselman and Samia Barakat.

Impressive women

Meet 16 of Canada's 'most powerful women'

March 7, 2019 — 

Did you know that the University of Manitoba has more of Canada’s Most Powerful Women than any other university in the country?

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at the 16 amazing U of M women who have won the prestigious award as selected annually by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).

Most recently, in November 2018, Dr. Marcia Anderson was named one of the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders for her role in bolstering Indigenous medical education and health care delivery in Northern Manitoba. A Cree-Saulteaux women with roots in Norway House Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation, Anderson is the executive director of Indigenous academic affairs in the Ongomiizwin Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing at the U of M, a professor of community health sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and medical officer of health with the Winnipeg Heath Region.

Past winners of the award include current Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Janice Ristock in 2012 and President Emeritus Dr. Emőke Szathmáry in 2004 — president from 1996 to 2008 and the first female president of the U of M. Ristock, a professor of women’s and gender studies, Faculty of Arts, was recognized for her ground-breaking work on gender, sexuality and domestic abuse; and Szathmáry, now a professor emeritus and senior scholar, was recognized for her innovative research in her field of anthropology and as the first woman to be named editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Vice-President Emeritus Dr. Joanne Keselman was awarded the honour in 2013 for her academic leadership and research. A psychology professor in the Faculty of Arts, she was recognized for her long administrative service in 2018 with the Manitoba Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration. 


Dr. Catherine Cook and Dr. Samar Safi-Harb took honours in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters category in 2017. Born and raised on Matheson Island, located at the narrows of Lake Winnipeg, Cook plays an important role in shaping the nature and scope of Indigenous health care and research in Manitoba. She currently serves in a joint role with the U of M as vice-dean Indigenous at the Rady Faulty of Health Sciences and with the WRHA as vice-president of population and Indigenous health. In addition to her position as associate professor of community health sciences, she is also associate dean, First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health at the Max Rady College of Medicine.

Safi-Harb is one of three Canadian astronomers whose research teams are part of an international science working group that launched a satellite into space in 2016. She is a professor in the department of physics and astronomy, Faculty of Science, and a former Canada Research Chair in Supernova (Remnants) Astrophysics.

Another impressive duo was awarded the previous year. The U of M’s Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst and Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie were Sun Life Financial Trailblazers & Trendsetters in 2016. Farenhorst is one of North America’s leading experts in the environmental fate of organic chemicals in soil and water and holds the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) Prairie region. She is a professor of soil science and associate dean (research), Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.

Marrie is internationally known for her innovative work in epidemiology and her pioneering discoveries in about multiple sclerosis (MS). She is a professor in the departments of internal medicine (neurology) and community health sciences at the Max Rady College of Medicine where she holds the Waugh Family Chair in Multiple Sclerosis, in addition to being a Don Paty career scientist and director of the MS Clinic at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre.


Other previous winners were:

  • Dr. Sabine Mai in 2015, physiology, biochemistry and medical genetics, human anatomy and cell science at the Max Rady College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, and a scientist with the Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology who established and directs the Genomic Centre for Cancer Research and Diagnosis, a cutting edge and unique molecular imaging facility;
  • 2014 recipient Tracy Dahl, Desautels Faculty of Music, Canada’s premiere coloratura soprano and one of Canada’s finest voice teachers, who has appeared throughout her career with the Metropolitan Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Teatro alla Scala (Milan) and the Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), among many others;
  • 2014 recipient Dr. Zahra Moussavi, biomedical engineering, Faculty of Engineering, and Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering, known for her research and novel treatment technologies in two major diseases: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and Alzheimer’s. Her work has not only resulted in novel technologies, but are also directly applied and practiced for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Dr. Joan Durrant in 2013, a child clinical psychologist and professor of family social sciences in the Faculty of Human Ecology and an adjunct professor with the Arthur V. Mauro Center for Peace and Justice, known for her research and community work focus on the prevention of violence against children;
  • Dr. Samia Barakat also in 2013, a professor emeritus of psychiatry and associate dean of professionalism and diversity in the Max Rady College of Medicine–and the first female chair of psychiatry at U of M in 1996, making her the first woman in Canada to hold such a position–for her contributions to her field and the areas of professionalism and diversity;
  • Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg in 2012, distinguished professor and clinical and metabolic geneticist in pediatrics and child health, Max Rady College of Medicine, and a scientist in the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, best known for advancing and translating scientific discovery into new treatments and novel approaches for genetic neuromuscular and skeletal disorders;
  • Dr. Wanda Wuttunee in 2011, a professor of Native studies, Faculty of Arts, and long-time director of the Aboriginal Business Education Program (now known as the Indigenous Business Education Program), for her work to train future Indigenous business leaders for the benefit their home communities, Indigenous business efforts, as well as the mainstream business community; and
  • U of M alumna Jan Polak Scowcroft, who won the award when she was an undergrad engineering student in 2007. (Not pictured.)


Launched in 2003, the WXN awards celebrate and honour women who are proven achievers in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. To date, over 1000 women across Canada have received the Top 100 Most Powerful Women Award.

The network advocates for the advancement and recognition of professional women based on the principle that equity and inclusion make industry stronger and society better



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