University of Winnipeg Community Celebrates Louis Riel Day

City of Winnipeg - Downtown - taken from 6500 feet aboard Kasper Air Quest Kodiak
City of Winnipeg - Downtown

WINNIPEG, MB – “We are proud to reflect our community as one of the top universities in Canada for Indigenous participation,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “A whole generation of talented Métis students like Jacob and Francine are graduating to take on leadership roles as a result of our strong and ongoing partnership with the Manitoba Metis Federation.”

An additional 74 University of Winnipeg students with Métis roots have received Louis Riel Bursaries for the academic year 2016-2017. Since 1999, the Manitoba Metis Federation and its education arm, the Louis Riel Institute, have been providing bursaries to Métis students attending UWinnipeg, amounting to just over $ 3.8 million. This is possible because of matching gifts from the provincial government’s Manitoba Scholarships and Bursaries Initiative. The Louis Riel Bursaries offer financial assistance to Certificate, Diploma, Bachelors, and Masters degree students.

As we mark Louis Riel Day on February 20, the UWinnipeg community celebrates our many talented Métis students like Jacob Woodbeck, who is poised to graduate this spring with an honours in psychology and major in criminal justice. Woodbeck grew up in Pinawa with a plan to go into law, but once he discovered social psychology, he changed direction. “I found it fascinating, and now I would like to pursue forensic psychology at the graduate level.”

Woodbeck says he only became aware of his Métis heritage as a teenager because it was not talked about when he was growing up. “One of the things that really clicked for me at UWinnipeg was the welcome I felt at the Aboriginal Student Services Centre, with the friendly staff and lounge area. I came from a small rural school so the smaller classes here are also really important to me.” Woodbeck, who maintains a 4.1 GPA, has received numerous bursaries and scholarships including the Louis Riel Bursary and the Opportunity Fund Bursary.

For student Francine Laurin, her Métis roots were clear to her growing up in Ste. Anne, Manitoba, where her first language was French and Métis history was taught in school. “I was very involved in community events and Métis festivals and traditions,” says the fourth year business administration major who hopes to enter law or pursue graduate studies. “Receiving the Louis Riel Bursary was such a relief to me in helping to pay for student loans. And it also meant a lot in terms of self-esteem, because it is an accomplishment and a recognition by others for all my hard work.”

Located on Treaty One land, in the heart of the Métis homeland, UWinnipeg is surrounded by one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Canada. Approximately 12% of incoming students self-identify as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.

“Over the last 18 years, the Manitoba Métis government has been privileged to help Métis youth reach for and achieve their educational aspirations,” said David Chartrand, President, Manitoba Metis Federation. “This has been accomplished through solid investment by the Manitoba Metis Federation government into bursaries and scholarships designed to help meet their needs. We know education is key to building capacity within the Métis Nation and we are pleased to continue our work and partnership with UWinnipeg.”

For his decades of championing opportunities for youth, Chartrand received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from UWinnipeg in 2012.

In September 2016, UWinnipeg became one of the first universities in Canada to develop and introduce a mandatory Indigenous course requirement for all undergraduate students, in keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

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