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Group photo of people wrapped in star blankets.

2021 and 2022 Indigenous Awards of Excellence winners.

Sixth annual Indigenous Awards of Excellence celebrates 2021 and 2022 recipients in-person

June 22, 2022 — 

Each year, Indigenous Engagement and Communications, and the Office of the Vice-President (Indigenous) (OVPI) honours students, staff and faculty in the categories of community builder, trailblazer and outstanding achievement at the Indigenous Awards of Excellence. The awards acknowledge members of the Indigenous community at UM and their effort and commitment to making the institution a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.

Vice-President (Indigenous), Dr. Catherine Cook hosted the event and shared these words: “It’s really important to celebrate the ways Indigenous students, staff and faculty are engaging the university. We’ve been having more and more conversations. We’ve been providing education and research that betters our understanding of Indigenous peoples and ways of knowing. Our staff and faculty do this while creating a culturally rich, safe and supportive learning and work environment. All of the work that supports Indigenous students, all the events and workshops on Indigenous matters, all of the research with Indigenous communities and all of the advocacy for policy and structural changes that ensure that Indigenous rights are honoured – all of these things that take place on campus are because of the exceptional people who make up the Indigenous community at UM.”

Two women wrapping one woman in a star blanket.

Laura Forsythe receiving her star blanket.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, the OVPI recognized the 2021 winners in a virtual campaign by releasing daily videos of each recipient on the Indigenous Student Centre’s Facebook page over the course of two weeks. These winners chose to wait until 2022 to celebrate in-person, along with this year’s winners, receiving their star blankets and being celebrated by the Indigenous community.

“The blankets are a special gift and it’s a great honour to both give and receive one. Being wrapped in a star blanket is an honouring experience and a showing of gratitude from the community,” says Dr. Catherine Cook

Prior to awarding the recipients, President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Michael Benarroch shared stories and his gratitude to the Indigenous community while recognizing the hard work that the Indigenous community does in order to continue moving forward: “Here [at the UM], we are led by members of the Indigenous community that have been working to bring real structural change to the institution and I want to recognize that this work is demanding for Indigenous scholars, staff and students and I recognize that Indigenous community members are leading the way and fixing problems that others created. They are breaking down systems and barriers and rebuilding frameworks based on Indigenous values and perspectives, and I want to sincerely thank you. The UM cannot move forward without leaders such as those that we celebrate today.”

Congratulations to the 2021-2022 Indigenous Awards of Excellence Recipients!
Please click on each individual’s name to view their video.

Student Trailblazer Award
This award recognizes two students for serving as a mentor, outstanding leadership, and visionary thinking that has resulted in advancing Indigenous engagement at UM with a continuing impact.
2021
Kayla Lariviere
Jenny Moose
2022
Charisma Castel
Sydney Levasseur-Puhach

Student Community Builder Award
This award recognizes two students for serving as a role model, building relationships and community, and demonstrating initiative in advancing Indigenous engagement at UM.
2021
Kaitlin Fosseneauve
Dylan Kensick
2022
Trechelle Bunn
Adam Kowal

Student Outstanding Achievement Award
This award recognizes two students for excelling academically, promoting a positive learning environment, and advancing Indigenous engagement at UM while walking with integrity and humility.
2021
Jesse McGreggor
Alexandra Philipott
2022
Kathleen McKenzie
Zoe Quill

Staff and Faculty Trailblazer Award
This award recognizes one staff member and one faculty member for breaking down barriers, demonstrating leadership and visionary thinking that has resulted in advancing Indigenous engagement at UM while walking with integrity and humility.
2021
Staff – Laura Forsythe
Faculty – Dr. Kyle Bobiwash
2022
Staff – Marc Kruse
Faculty – Dr. Melanie Morris (video unavailable)

Staff and Faculty Community Builder Award
This award recognizes one staff member and one faculty member for strengthening connections with Indigenous communities, creating spaces that are culturally rich, safe and supportive, and going above and beyond to advance Indigenous engagement at the UM through programs and initiatives.
2021
Staff – Dr. Moneca Sinclaire
Faculty – Elder Margaret Lavallee
2022
Staff – Melody Muswaggon
Faculty – Dr. Mandy Buss

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