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Indigenous UM students honoured at virtual Manitoba Indigenous Youth Achievement Awards

May 10, 2021 — 

Indigenous youth were honoured by the Manitoba Indigenous Youth Achievement Awards (MIYAA) in a virtual format this year. Although the awards celebrations would normally include a well-attended gala, the MIYAA website indicated that “given the COVID-19 situation, we would still like to provide an opportunity for Indigenous youth to gather and celebrate virtually.”

Indigenous UM students Robyn Chow, recognized for community volunteerism, along with Sondra Flett, and Westin Sutherland, recipients of the cultural awards, were honoured virtually on Feb. 25. UM Today sat down with Chow, a first-year Métis student studying geography at Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources, to learn more.

UM Today: Tell us about your role in Junior Community and Volunteerism.

Robyn Chow

Robyn Chow at her Dakota Collegiate high school graduation in 2020.

Robyn Chow: I have participated with Habitat for Humanity, 30- hour Famine, Manitoba Possible, the Manitoba Marathon and countless hours on other initiatives through my high school career, including as student council president and valedictorian. I am a 2019 alum of the entrepreneurship Shad program, as well as an Encounters with Canada alum after participating in the medicine and health category. At Dakota Collegiate Institute, I was chosen as the student leader representative and participated in the Educating for ACTion conference in 2020.

My goal for the future is to have a lifestyle advocating for environmental sustainability with my continued passion of giving back to the community through community-building, education and volunteerism.


What was your initial response when you found out you were receiving the award?

When I first received the call that I was selected as the recipient of the Community and Volunteerism Award in the Junior category, I was both surprised and excited. It is an extreme honour to be the recipient of such an award. There are many youth leaders in the Indigenous community making such positive impacts for both a better present and future, all the while influencing other youth and serving as mentors. I am just truly grateful and humbled by the recognition.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering a major in geography?

Follow your interests and your passions. Do not follow anyone else’s goals other than your own. This is an area of study that I absolutely love and want to continue learning about for the rest of my life. If you have a passion to grow and be inspired about the beautiful Earth we live in, then without a doubt I recommend this field of study. The faculty is amazing. They have great resources, great communication and absolutely incredible representatives and members. I would definitely recommend the Riddell Faculty.

On April 29, Access Program students Sandra Hart and Mackenzie Chartrand were recognized for their contributions and leadership in the area of health. Read more about their studies.

Congratulations to all the Indigenous UM students who are MIYAA recipients this year:
Community Volunteerism Junior – Robyn Chow, Métis, Red River Valley (Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources)
Cultural Female – Sondra Flett, St. Theresa Point First Nation (University 1)
Cultural Male – Westin Sutherland, Peguis First Nation (Faculty of Arts)
Health North – Sandra Hart, Norway House Cree Nation (Rady Faculty of Health Sciences/Access Program)
Health South – Mackenzie Chartrand, Pine Creek First Nation (Rady Faculty of Health Sciences/Access Program)

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