Top stories of 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to lead news coverage across the globe for a second straight year, including here at the University of Manitoba, but moments of light shone through 2021.
Members of the UM community achieved incredible successes, and many students, faculty, staff and alumni came together to face significant challenges and find innovative solutions.
Here are just a few of the UM Today stories that drew attention in 2021.
Respiratory therapy students join workforce early
Students in the final year of the respiratory therapy program at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences met their licensing requirements and officially completed the program four weeks early this year in order to assist with the need created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All 13 students in the bachelor’s degree program this year were eligible for graduation and were hired early, mostly in Winnipeg where demand has been high for several months.
Students made awe-inspiring accomplishments throughout this year. For a look at more of their stories, see this student success story.
Full-dose blood thinners decreased need for life support and improved outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in international trial
Full dose anti-coagulation (blood thinner) treatments given to patients hospitalized for COVID-19 reduced the requirement of vital organ support in a large clinical trial conducted worldwide, with findings announced in January 2021.
Three clinical trial platforms spanning five continents in over 300 hospitals, had been working together since May 2020 to urgently test whether there is a greater benefit of full doses of heparin (blood thinners) to treat adults hospitalized for non-critical COVID-19 illness compared to the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients.
Seven professors named Most Powerful Women in Canada
A record seven professors at UM were named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2021, by Women’s Executive Network (WXN).
The winners range from rising stars to top of their fields to advocates to champions for others to community leaders to teachers and students.
The seven join 20 previous UM recipients named Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 since the awards began.
UM researcher honoured for bringing unique app to communities
Alumnus Dr. Moneca Sinclaire, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and a researcher in the department of environment and geography at UM, helped develop a unique mobile app that empowers Indigenous communities to survey their populations about key health and social issues.
For this work, she was honoured with the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation—Indigenous, which is given by Mitacs, a non-profit national innovation organization that works with academic institutions. The app was originally created to help communities address COVID-19 and has since grown to cover other pressing social concerns.
Rainfall in the Arctic will soon be more common than snowfall
More rain than snow will fall in the Arctic and this transition will occur decades earlier than previously predicted, a new study led by the University of Manitoba (UM) reported in November.
Projections from the latest models, published by an international team of researchers led by UM in the journal Nature Communications, show a steep increase in the rate and range of precipitation expected to fall in the Arctic, and that most of these future events will be rain. This shift is occurring due to rapid warming, sea ice loss, and poleward heat transport in the Arctic.
UM to Tokyo and Bisons alumna Desiree Scott captures Olympic gold
Already a legend among Bisons alumni, Desiree Scott [BA/16] added another title to her incredible resumé — Olympic gold medallist. The University of Manitoba community was absolutely thrilled for Scott, who had an illustrious five-year career playing midfield for the Bisons and was inducted into the Canada West Hall of Fame in 2019. She previously won Olympic bronze medals with the Canadian national team in 2012 and 2016.
Scott was part of a contingent of athletes, coaches and officials from UM who headed to Olympic Games, including students, staff and alumni.
UM alumnus Dr. Ernest Rady receives 2021 IDEA award
UM alumnus and visionary Dr. Ernest Rady [BComm/58, LLB/62, LLD/15] received the 2021 International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA) from The Associates of the Asper School of Business at the RBC Convention Centre in November.
The international business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist was recognized and celebrated at the IDEA gala for his entrepreneurial achievements and significant contributions in both in Canada and the United States, including his transformative gift in 2016 to UM. Dr. Rady’s impactful philanthropic and volunteer work has advanced medical education, the health and well-being of children, and scientific research.
Faculty of Arts introduces Indigenous content requirement
New students who entered the Faculty of Arts in Fall 2021 now include at least three credit hours of Indigenous course content in their studies in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The new requirement, passed by Senate in November 2020, aims to provide students with an understanding of the place of Indigenous people in Manitoba’s and Canada’s history, and gives future graduates more tools to understand how that history is woven into many aspects of contemporary society.
NCTR reimagines what its archives can be, and Land Blessing Ceremony held for the future home of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is re-imaging what its archives can be, and do, as it undertakes an ambitious project to restructure and decolonize its data, thanks to funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund, announced in March. The project will create a new international benchmark in cultural heritage policy, Indigenous rights management, Indigenous research and education methodologies, and Indigenous perspectives on IT development.
In August, a Land Blessing Ceremony was held at the University of Manitoba, which is the first step in envisioning the new permanent home for the NCTR. It is currently located on the Fort Garry campus in a historic building on the Red River. The NCTR’s future site will remain on the river in the newly acquired Southwood lands, which is also part of the Fort Garry campus.
The new site will provide NCTR with the space it requires for the work mandated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Survivors.
Construction begins on Desautels Concert Hall
The concert hall is the grand finale of the multi-year Taché Arts project. With its striking architecture, superior acoustics, optimal sightlines and a configurable stage for a variety of performances, the hall is set to transform UM’s facilities for the performing arts and will be the Desautels Faculty of Music’s showpiece venue.
UM and UMFA representatives began negotiating a new collective agreement on Aug. 5 – and after 18 meetings, both parties agreed to move to mediation. UMFA set a bargaining deadline and mediation ended today without an agreement. UM is willing to continue with mediation, however UMFA has indicated that it will proceed with a strike on Nov. 2.
Our shared commitment and the path forward
In December, classes resumed following the UMFA strike that started in November. “This has been a very challenging time for our entire community,” said President Michael Benarroch in December. “I regret the impact of the labour disruption on our students and recognize there is a great deal of work ahead in setting the academic year back on course. We now have an opportunity to learn from this experience and recommit to the exceptional work and learning environment to which we all aspire.”
The Manitoba 150 Women Trailblazers announced
On Jan. 28, the Nellie McClung Foundation introduced the 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazer Awards to salute the contributions that Manitoba women have made to social justice, arts, sports, politics, education, community activities and promoting democracy while developing this great province.
The awards honour Nellie McClung’s trailblazing spirit by recognizing these incredible women leaders, so many of whom are University of Manitoba alumnae, faculty and friends.