Meet Bruce Miller, winner of the University of Manitoba Community Leadership Award
A leader forging a new path forward, using tradition as his guide
A generous listener, a gifted conversationalist, born to lead. Bruce Miller [BRS/99] has combined his natural gifts and his greatest passions—his Indigenous heritage, inspiring youth, sports and education—to become a champion of community building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada and across North America.
A member of the Matachewan First Nation, Miller enrolled at the University of Manitoba in the early ’90s. Transitioning to life on campus was a big adjustment, and Miller had to deal with these challenges first-hand. But what he took from this experience was an opportunity to help others.
After graduation, Miller became an academic advisor with the university’s Access programs, which offers holistic support (academic, financial, personal counselling, tutoring and advocacy) to university students who, for social, economic, cultural or geographical reasons have not been able to access opportunities to pursue university studies. Years later, he served as chair for a $6.7 million capital campaign supporting construction of Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge, which today is a culturally-rich, welcoming home for Indigenous students, and an open learning environment for all.
From his earliest student days, Miller sought opportunities to build community, to share the story of his culture and traditions and to empower his fellow Indigenous students. He has done so through volunteerism (among Miller’s many volunteer roles at the U of M he was president of the university’s Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Governors); education and outreach; and through his love of sports.
As a student and researcher in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, Miller raised awareness around Indigenous sport and recreation. He later became involved with the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in 2002, helping coordinate a research complement to the athletic competition and working to establish a legacy fund that will ensure the success of the Games going forward. He will continue to build on this success as chair of the planning committee for Team Manitoba for the upcoming 2014 event in Regina.
A proud father who seeks opportunities for young people in everything he does, Miller has helped thousands of Indigenous youth realize their athletic dreams. In 2002 he authored a book that issued an open invitation for all people to celebrate the history of sport and athletics among Indigenous peoples in Canada—Our Original Games: A Look at Aboriginal Sport in Canada.
Today, Miller heads up the Aboriginal Relations Strategy for the United Way of Winnipeg. Through this role, combined with his work on the federal government’s Urban Aboriginal Strategy, and as a founding board member of the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, Miller is applying an Indigenous lens to a world of charitable giving, promoting the traditional values of sharing, caring and giving that he holds closest, and helping create a meaningful new understanding of philanthropy in Canada.
In 2014, the Distinguished Alumni Award has grown to include four new categories. The new awards recognize University of Manitoba graduates who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their professional and personal lives, and who have been inspirations to fellow alumni, current students and the community.
Bruce Miller [BRS/1999] will receive the University of Manitoba Alumni Community Leadership Award, which recognizes graduates who have significantly contributed to their community at home or abroad, making a difference to the well-being of others. Throughout his career, Miller has sought opportunities to build community and to share stories of his culture and traditions with Indigenous students through education and Aboriginal sport programs.