The University of Manitoba has dedicated team working to deliver programs and services offered to Indigenous students. Meet the academic and support staff from the Office of the President, the Indigenous Student Centre, Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs, Asper School of Business, Community Health Services, Engineering, Enrolment Services, and the Student Counselling and Career Centre.
Indigenous Student Centre
Christine Cyr - Director
Christine is a traditional Cree/Métis woman from Winnipeg. She grew up in the north end of Winnipeg in a large family. Christine overcame the obstacles of poverty by focusing on education. After attending St. Mary's Academy for four years, she graduated from high school with honours and then graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor or Arts degree with a major in Native Studies and a minor in Chemistry. She has worked at the U of M for the last 16 years, first in Student Recruitment, and currently as the Director of the Indigenous Student Centre.
In 2014, Christine received the Future Leaders of Manitoba Award as well as the Service Award from the U of M for her outstanding work in the field of Indigenous education as well as her commitment to the community. In 2015, Christine was selected to attend the Governor General's Leadership Conference and spent 16 days travelling across Canada learning about governments, economies, cultures and businesses of other regions.
You can read about Christine's personal journey in her short story, "The Yellow House" which was published in the 2014 book "First Lady Nation."
Christine has been very active in the community and volunteering her time with several Boards and committees, including sitting as Chair of the United Way of Winnipeg's Aboriginal Relations Council, member of the United Way's Board of Trustees, Chair of the Circle on Aboriginal People and Philanthropy's 3rd Annual All My Relations Gathering, and Vice-Chair of Career Trek.
Christine is active on the Red Road - attending, participating in, and leading ceremonies. She lives in Winnipeg surrounded by her husband, four children, and four grandchildren.
Marlene Kayseas - Elder in Residence
Marlene is Anishinaabe and was born in Fishing Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan. She is fluent in the Ojibway language and has extensive knowledge in her culture. Marlene is a residential school survivor, which influenced her decision to create spiritual, cultural and traditional programming in her community.
Marlene stopped going to school at an early age, but returned as a young adult. She has worked in the addictions and health services field for the past 35 years. Marlene most recently worked at the Health Sciences Centre on a program which promoted the necessities and advantage of breast feeding. She also taught parenting skills, educating young mothers in their beginnings of becoming parents. The success of the program was attributed to Marlene's ability to connect with these mothers and led to Marlete working for HSC as an Aboriginal Advisor Counsellor for many years.
Marlene has five daughters, one son, 18 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren who keep her busy when she is not working.
Carla Loewen - Student Advisor
Carla Loewen is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and is a Student Advisor at the Indigenous Student Centre. For her work on campus she has been recognized with the University of Manitoba’s Annual Outreach Award in 2011 and a Team Award from the Annual Awards of Excellence program in 2014. She is the creator and facilitator of the Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program (formerly Promoting Aboriginal Community Together), a U of M Indigenous student peer mentor program at the university, which won an Innovation Award from the National Aboriginal Student Services Association (NASSA) in 2008. Carla completed her Master of Education degree in May 2016 in Adult & Post-Secondary Education and her thesis project was about student retention and student development theory in relation to peer mentoring for Indigenous students and its connection to first-year student success. For her research focus and community involvement she was awarded the Leadership Sustaining Our Ways scholarship from the Aboriginal Circle of Educators and the Part-Time Graduate Students’ Association scholarship in 2012. For volunteer work, she has been a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg since 2006. She would love to have more time for creative writing and her dabbling has allowed some publications in venues like The Manitoban, The Gradzette, Communiqué, and the Dust & Fire Annual Anthology of Women's Writing & Art. She began her studies at the U of M in 1996 and holds degrees in Education and Arts and began working on campus in 2005 at the University 1 First Year Centre.
Norman Meade - Elder in Residence
Norman is Métis - born in Bissett in 1944 and grew up in Manigotagan. He received his early education through his parents and then began his formal education at the Bad Throat School in Manigotagan. He later moved to Bissett where he acquired some of his high school education. He completed his high school by correspondence over the next few years. In the late 1960's, Norman attended Red River Community College in Winnipeg and later enrolled at the University of Manitoba to complete certificate courses in Public and Municipal Administration.
Norman and Thelma, his wife of 47 years, live in Winnipeg. They have two children and six grandchildren.
Norman has worked on many jobs over his 51 plus years in the labour force. Twenty-six of those were with the provincial government in various departments and agencies. Other work consisted of mining, truck driving, heavy equipment operating, pulp cutting, management, and as the Aboriginal Program Co-ordinator of the Mennonite Central Committee of Manitoba for five years.
Norman is a pastor and Anglican Deacon in the Manigotagan area. As a pastor, he does marriage and youth counselling, plus speaking engagements with students young and old alike. He also does cross-denominational teaching and workshops. He does conflict resolution/mediation on a request basis.
Norman earned his recognition as an Elder in the community a number of years ago.
He is an avid curler. Norman has curled for approximately 30 years and had founded and coordinated the Aboriginal Curling League of Winnipeg for the past 22 years.
Justin Rasmussen - Student Advisor
Justin is a student advisor at the Indigenous Student Centre.
He received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand) in 2014. He also graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a B.Sc. (Geography) in 2003 and the University of Manitoba with a B.Sc. (Zoology) in 2006, and a M.Sc. (Zoology) in 2008. He is interested in behavioural ecology and has a particular interest in avian brood parasitism. Justin loves spending time outdoors camping, gardening, and building.
Justin was raised in Ile Des Chênes, Manitoba and is a member of the Métis Nation.
Karen Richard - Assistant to the Director
Carl Stone - Student Advisor
Carl William Stone, BA, was born on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and raised by his Grandmother Eliza Stone. She was a respected Elder and of the Anishinabe Mediwin Society.
For the last 40 years, Carl has been active in the reclaiming of the Anishinabe Spiritual and Cultural ways of his people. In the mid-1970’s, Carl was one of seven young men of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation who played a role in bringing back the Traditional Drum to Brokenhead. After 100 years of silence the Brokenhead Drum sounded its voice once again.
Currently, Carl works as a Student Advisor and Instructor for the Indigenous Student Centre at the U of M, as well sits on numerous advisory committees. Carl also works as an Elders' helper and guest lectures on Traditional Teachings and Spirituality.
Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs
Diedre Desmarais - Area Director
Dr. Diedre A. Desmarais is Area Director of the Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs. She was the previous Registrar and Director of Students at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv), Lecturer for both FNUniv and University of Regina in Indigenous Studies, Political Science and Women and Gender Studies. Dr. Desmarais’ doctorate is in Political Science and her research interests include Canadian politics, post colonial and conflict theory, Indigenous identity and health care policy as it relates to Indigenous elderly.
Brenda Lee Lafreniere - Counsellor
Brenda Lee Lafreniere, Métis/Cree, holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Bachelor of Social Work. She is currently a counsellor for the Access/AFP programs, and has held various roles with Access. Brenda has 30 years experience specializing in social work and family therapy, which includes direct clinical service, advocacy, administration, and program development. Brenda is passionate about her work and provides service from a holistic and culturally appropriate model. She teaches workshops in a wide spectrum of family therapy, personal development, health and wellness, and Aboriginal culture. In addition, she has been active in various committees internally and within the community, promoting and creating awareness and respect for Aboriginal culture.
Leslie Backlund - Program Assistant, Aboriginal Focus Programs
Leslie Backlund is the Reception/Program Assistant for the Aboriginal Focus Program. She is Metis and has been with the University of Manitoba since 1999. She's been working with the Aboriginal Focus Programs since 2012.
Asper School of Business
Peter Pomart is the Program Coordinator for Indigenous Business Education Partners (IBEP) at the Asper School of Business. He grew up in Winnipeg and traces his family roots to Pukatawagan, Manitoba. Peter is passionate about encouraging Aboriginal youth to complete high school and to pursue post-secondary education. He is currently taking his MBA on a part-time basis.
Community Health Sciences
Margaret Lavallee of Sagkeeng First Nation is the Elder-in-Residence for the Centre for Aboriginal Health Education. She provides cultural oversight for the centre and directs its cultural events. Her primary role is to be a support and resource for Aboriginal students in the health professions, and she maintains regular office hours for drop-in or scheduled appointments.
College of Nursing
Audrey Richard - Student Advisor/Counsellor, Aboriginal Nursing Cohort Initiative
Audrey Richard is Ojibwe Anishinaabe from Camperville, Manitoba and is a citizen of the Sandy Bay First Nation. She completed her M.Ed through the University of Manitoba. Audrey is a student advisor and counsellor with the Aboriginal Nursing Cohort Initiative in the College of Nursing, and has been working with students in various capacities at the University of Manitoba since January 1990. Audrey’s community volunteersism includes Kani Kanichihk Council, Keeping the Fires Burning, and Shawane Dagosiwin Aboriginal Education Research Forum. She also completed the First Nations Community Wellness Diploma and the Bachelor of Social Work degree at the University of Manitoba.
Kirk Dyson - Facilities Co-ordinator, Faculty of Engineering
Randy Herrmann - Director, Engineering Access Program
Randy Herrmann, P.Eng., Métis, is the director of the Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) at the University of Manitoba. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1988 with a BSc in geological engineering. He is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba and the Professional Engineers of Ontario.
Desiree Morrisseau - Lead Indigenous Student Recruitment Officer
Desiree Morrisseau is Anishinaabe born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba with family ties from Crane River, Manitoba and Grassy Narrows First Nation in Ontario. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2012 majoring in Native Studies from the University of Manitoba and she is now an Indigenous Student Recruitment Officer with the University. Desiree has always been very involved in her community, volunteering her time to many different non –profit organizations such as Choices Youth Program, The Ototema program with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Winnipeg Harvest and many more. This lead Desiree to be the recipient of a Manitoba Youth Achievement Award in 2011 in the category of Community Involvement. Desiree loves spending time with youth helping them to figure out their dreams and their post-secondary goals.
Marla Robson - Indigenous Student Recruitment Officer
Marla, Cree/Anishinaabe, is a Peguis First Nation band member with maternal ties to Norway House Cree Nation. She attained an Environmental Education and Training Certificate (1998) and a BSc (Honours) in Environmental Science (2003) from the University of Manitoba. She is an Aboriginal Student Recruitment Officer in Enrolment Services where she encourages the positive choice of post-secondary education.
Faculty of Arts
Vanessa Lillie - Indigenous Academic Advisor
Vanessa Lillie is Cree from Peguis. She eared a BA (Honours) in Psychology from the U of M in the spring of 2016. Prior to completing her undergraduate degree, she worked as an Educational Assistant for the Interlake School Division where she supported students academically, provided access to information in the classroom for deaf and hard of hearing students as a computerized notetaker, and provided traditional and cultural opportunities for Indigenous students. Outside of work, Vanessa is involved in volunteering with Indigenous organizations, Service Learning organizations like Child Rising Mentorship Program and Community Action Poverty Simulation and research projects like Community Health and Information Partnerships. For her volunteer work and leadership, she received an Emerging Leader Award from Student Life at the U of M in 2015. Vanessa believes in a holistic strength-based model of support where each student finds balance in order to succeed, develop and grow. In her role as academic advisor for the Faculty of Arts, Vanessa splits her time between the Faculty Arts General Office on the 3rd floor of Fletcher Argue and Migizii Agamik - Bald Eagle Lodge.
Camille Callison - Indigenous Services Librarian
Camille Callison is from Tsesk iye (Crow) Clan of the Tahltan Nation. She holds a BA in Anthropology and an M.L.I.S First Nations Concentration and is dedicated to the preservation of Indigenous knowledge, culture and cultural materials. Camille is the Indigenous Services Librarian and LIaison Librarian for Anthropology, Native Studies and Social Work at the U of M. She is responsible for addressing the unique library needs of the Indigenous community at the U of M; promoting Indigenous scholarship through collection development; the development of new programs aimed to aid in Indigenous student retention, as well as instruction; collection development and reference work pertaining to her subject areas; and she is a member of the U of M's Indigenous Advisory Circle. She promotes Indigenous libraries and archives, and makes recommendations on library and information needs of Indigenous peoples through her involvement in local, national and international professional associations.
She seves on the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB) as the Indigenous Representative, member of the Copyright Committee where she was Chair of the CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Committee and is currently Chair, CFLA-FCAB Standing Committee on Indigenous Matters. She is a member of the Public Library Advisory Board for Manitoba, member of IFLA Indigenous Matters Section; the Past President of the Manitoba Library Association; and a volunteer member of teh MLA Prison Library Committee providing library services to inmates. She was a member of the U of M's Bid and Implementation Committees fromed to bring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission archives to the U of M, and she convened and co-chaired the 9th International Indigenous Librarians' Forum (IILF) in August 2015 with Elder David Courchen Jr. at the U of M.