Vice-President (Indigenous)

  • Biography

    Dr. Catherine L. Cook, MD, MSc, CCFP, FCFP is Métis and grew up in northern Manitoba. She received her undergraduate and postgraduate medical education at UM (MD/87, MSc/03) and has been employed by the university since 1987. She is an associate professor in the department of community health sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. She most recently served as head of Ongomiizwin – Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing and vice-dean, Indigenous health, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. She also was provincial lead, Indigenous health at Shared Health until taking on the role of Vice-President (Indigenous) full-time in April 2020.  

  • Dr. Catherine L. Cook

Learn more about Dr. Catherine Cook

Dr. Cook has focused on Indigenous health as a priority in her career. She practiced as a family physician in remote northern nursing stations for several years before focusing on public health practice, and more recently health administration and management. She has taken a leadership and operational role in the development and implementation of Indigenous health programs and services that focus on addressing the gaps and barriers to equitable access of quality health care for Indigenous people in Manitoba. At Shared Health, Dr. Cook co-chaired the development of an Indigenous partnership strategy framework and the development of a health-care system that recognizes and addresses the need for comprehensive quality health care for Indigenous people as close to home as possible. At the university, Dr. Cook took a leadership role in the creation of Ongomiizwin – the Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, officially approved by Senate in 2017.

Dr. Cook serves on several national boards and committees and has received many national and local awards, including the Dr. Thomas Dignan Award for Indigenous Health from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the WXN Top 100 Women in Canada in 2017, the Health Administration Award from Doctors Manitoba, the May Cohen Award from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada and the Cal Gutkin Ambassador Award from the Canadian College of Family Physicians.

Dr. Cook has been a strong contributor to the University of Manitoba, both within her home faculty and across the university. Her insight has been widely sought after by governments, boards and agencies, and she has excelled as a leader, an advisor and a collaborator. She brings this stellar record to this new and important role, as well as her deep commitment both to the community and to the University of Manitoba.

Associate Vice-President (Indigenous) – Students, Community and Cultural Integration

  • Biography

    Christine Cyr is a 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 finishing high school with honours, she graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts (major in Native Studies and a minor in Chemistry).

    She has worked at the University of Manitoba for the last 20 years, first in Student Recruitment, and more recently as the Director of the Indigenous Student Centre. She has been actively involved in strategic planning, cultural education, and advocating for the disruption of anti-Indigenous racism.


  • Christine Cyr

Learn more about Christine

She currently co-leads project work in creating a supportive environment for Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and guests including the creation of an anti-Indigenous racism policy, recognizing and compensating the contributions of Indigenous staff and faculty, and the recruitment and retention of Indigenous staff, faculty, and students.

As someone who is dedicated to amplifying and strengthening the Indigenous community at UM, Cyr has developed and led programs like the Post-Secondary Club that advance the recruitment of Indigenous high school students in Manitoba. She also co-created the Indigenous Circle of Empowerment (ICE) leadership program, and established the Métis Working Group and the new position of Métis Inclusion Coordinator.

An accomplished mentor and leader, Cyr received the Future Leaders of Manitoba Award in 2013 and the Service Award from UM in 2014. Her volunteer work has included sitting as Chair of the United Way of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Relations Council, member of 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 eight grandchildren

Associate Vice-President (Indigenous) - Scholarship, Research & Curriculum

  • Biography

    Dr. Cary Miller, Associate is a Sixties Scoop Survivor who descends from the St. Croix and Leech Lake Anishinaabe communities in Wisconsin and Minnesota respectively. Dr. Miller holds a doctoral degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her work is seen in her book Ogimaag: Anishinaabe Leadership 1763-1845, as well as articles and chapters in other works such as Centering Anishinaabe Studies and Indigenous Languages and the Promise of Archives.  Administratively, she has transformed Indigenous scholarship, education, success, governance, research and reconciliation at post-secondary institutions in the US and Canada for more than 30 years.

  • Headshot of Cary Miller.


Learn more about Maria

Maria is an Anishinaabe band member of Mishkosiminiziibiing (Big Grassy River) First Nation in Treaty 3, with Métis roots leading seven generations back to the Red River Settlement, and German family. She grew up in Portage la Prairie, graduated high school in Elie and received her B.A. from University of Guelph. After living in Southern Ontario for over 20 years, she moved back to Winnipeg to be closer to family and worked with a variety of organizations focused on curriculum development, research, strategic planning, and administration in the area of Indigenous communities and people, education, and equity and diversity.

She is currently completing her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Royal Roads University. Maria lives in Winnipeg with her two children and her personal mission is to use the gifts of bringing people, knowledge, and ideas together so that the lives of Indigenous people are positively impacted.

Learn more about Val

Val Parker has worked at UM for more than 25 years in various administrative, service and managerial roles at both the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses. Val’s commitment to supporting student engagement comes from her strong belief in the mission of her current office and from working closely with students, staff and faculty in every role she has filled at the University of Manitoba. Outside of the university, Val and her partner Rob have been lifelong Winnipeg Jets fans and can usually be found cheering loudly at Bell MTS Place or any other location the Jets are playing.

Learn more about Karla

Karla grew up in Northern Manitoba and is a member of Sagkeeng First Nation. She has family roots in Wasagamack and Sagkeeng First Nation.

With over 15 years’ experience in professional office executive/administrative assistant positions. Karla takes pride in providing the best service and support, she approaches all aspects of any job with a positive, hardworking mindset, and is passionate about helping find solutions to any challenges. Prior to joining the Office of Vice-President Indigenous, Karla worked at Ongomiizwin, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Reporting units


Key reports

Contact us

Office of the Vice-President (Indigenous)
Room 202C Administration building
66 Chancellor's Circle
University of Manitoba (Fort Garry campus)
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada