Director of Indigenous Student Recruitment & Community Relations
The Indigenous Student Recruitment team is responsible for introducing prospective Indigenous students to the UM, as well as supporting First Nation, Métis and Inuit students transition into post-secondary education.
Desiree Morrisseau-Keesick (she/her) is an Anishinaabe woman and a member of Grassy Narrows First Nation in Treaty 3. She was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and has maternal ties to Crane River, MB. Desiree has been with the University of Manitoba for eight years, previously as Lead for the Indigenous Student Recruitment team and then as a Student Advisor with the Indigenous Student Centre. Since May 2022, Desiree took on the role as Director of Indigenous Student Recruitment and Community Relations through the Office of Vice-President Indigenous. Desiree has always had a love for being a community helper. Her passion for cultural and community based programming was intensified after running the Indigenous Post-Secondary Club for six years. Desiree looks forward to expanding the work of ISRCR and ensuring Indigenous students and their families feel supported as they navigate their journey through post-secondary.
Desta Tataryn is Métis with family ties to Swampy Cree Nation. She grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba and moved to Winnipeg when she began her degree at the University of Winnipeg, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Sociology. Desta has been working at the University of Manitoba for over five years and is currently the Assistant to Directors for Cultural Integration and for Indigenous Student Recruitment + Community Relations. Prior to this role, she has worked in various UM units, including the Indigenous Student Centre, Inner City Social Work Program, and Community Health Sciences. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with loved ones, camping, and reading, and is currently learning to bead.
Taylor is of mixed ancestry, her paternal family’s Metis roots in Deerhorn with current ties to Lundar while her maternal grandparents immigrated from former Yugoslavia. Taylor was born and raised in North Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory. She graduated with her Bachelor of Kinesiology and is passionate about her work supporting Indigenous students find success at the UM through co-coordinating the Post-Secondary Club program in Winnipeg.
Doris Quill (She/Her) is a Cree woman and a member of the Sapotawayek Cree Nation in Treaty 4 with maternal ties to Mosakahiken Cree Nation (Moose Lake, Manitoba in Treaty 5). She grew up in The Pas Manitoba before moving to Winnipeg to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. After graduation she enrolled in the Administrative Assistant program from Red River Polytech. Doris spent most of her summers in Sapotawayek at their annual culture camp, where she learned traditional teachings and stories from her community Elders. As an adult, she is learning to get back in touch with her traditional roots and figuring out her role as aunty and role model for her nieces and nephews.
Jesse McGregor (he/him) is a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation (Grand Rapids, Manitoba), with close ties to the Kinisao Sipi Cree Nation (Norway House, Manitoba), located in Treaty 5 territory. In 2022, Jesse graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences from UM. Through his experiences of living both on-reserve and in urban settings, Jesse developed a passion for helping Indigenous youth and communities. In his role as program coordinator at the UM, Jesse hopes to work with and learn from Indigenous youth – walking together as aspiring students transition from high school to post-secondary.
Cindy is an Asini Iska Iskwew (Rocky Cree Women) from O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, treaty 5 territory (South Indian Lake, MB). Cindy was born in Thompson, Manitoba but spent her summers as a child in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation. She recently graduated with her Advanced BA with a major in Native studies, minor is Sociology. Cindy held prior positions as an Administrative Assistant at the NCTR and Administrative assistant for MCIEB at Indigenous Engagement. Cindy has also worked a term as Events Coordinator assistant for the Indigenous Student Centre and work study student for both IE and ISC.
Cindy is a single mother of two teenage children, ages 17 & 14, who are very busy in sports such as football and basketball. Cindy is very passionate about health and fitness and loves running, CrossFit and going to the gym. Her passion in life is to empower Indigenous peoples in any way she can from her experiences in life. As an Indigenous woman and a previous student, Cindy had faced many challenges and wants to encourage, inspire, motivate, and support students in helping them achieve their goals. She truly believes education is power and can change your life.
The Indigenous Student Centre is responsible for welcoming and supporting Indigenous students, as well as providing opportunities for students to learn about First Nations, Inuit and Métis culture.
Carla is a proud member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and an alumna of the UM [BEd/01, BA/03, MEd/16]. Her master’s degree was in adult & post-secondary education with a thesis project about student retention and student development theory in relation to peer mentoring for Indigenous students and its connection to first-year student success. She has been working at the UM since 2005, first as an academic advisor with the University 1 First Year Centre and then the Indigenous Student Centre to be one of the student advising team and oversee the Qualico Bridge to Success program. Passionate about the power of peer mentoring, Carla believes that students who feel they are part of the Indigenous campus community and get involved on campus is key to having a rewarding university experience and her goal is to encourage students to do what they need to do have the university experience they want. Carla has made many connections with students, faculty and staff through programming. She is considered a formidable leader and a trusted colleague who works with integrity and humility.
Melanie has more than 15 years of experience in administration and customer service at the University of Manitoba through her work with the Information Services and Technology (IST) office. She is a proud member of the Métis Nation and looks forward to collaborating with the Indigenous Student Centre team and to support and empower Indigenous students in their journeys. Outside of her professional life, she enjoys sewing, spending time with family/friends, camping, and reading. Melanie is passionate about supporting, and empowering students to reach their goals. She believes in the importance of belonging; she hopes to provide a space and the opportunity for Indigenous students to feel welcome and connected.
Student advisors at the Indigenous Student Centre are here to help you achieve your academic goals. We can help you create an academic plan, clarify university policies and we can connect you with important services, resources and programming.
Indigenous Student Centre advisors are available:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Please call (204) 474-8850 or send an email to email@example.com to make an appointment today.
Drop-ins are also welcome but are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are dependent on the availability of the student advisor. These hours may be affected by COVID-19. Please contact us for more information.
Our mission as Indigenous student advisors is to provide holistic and culturally-grounded advising services for Indigenous students, where we consider mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and cultural well-being.
We are guided by the Seven Sacred Teachings in everything we do:
Obaadendiziwin (Humility) - Mai'iingan (Wolf)
Zaagidiwin (Love) - Migizii (Eagle)
Gwekwaadziwin (Honesty) - Sa'be
Nbwaakawin (Wisdom) - Amik (Beaver)
Aakwaakade'ewin (Courage) - Makwa (Bear)
Debwewin (Truth) - Mikinaak (Turtle)
Mnaadendimowin (Respect) - Mashkodebizhike (Buffalo)
Indigenous student advisors strive to achieve this mission by:
Denise Proulx is Métis from Winnipeg and is a proud first-generation alumna of the University of Manitoba, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Psychology. Denise is responsible for the development and implementation of the Blankstein Momentum Program and has successfully completed the Letter of Accomplishment in Academic Advising. She is a graduate of the University of Manitoba Leaders Learning Program, has completed the Prosper Canada Financial Literacy Facilitator Training and is certified by SEED Winnipeg Inc. as a Money Management Trainer. Denise is passionate about providing opportunities that aim to support Indigenous student success and is an advocate for celebrating achievements.
Crystal Byer is a proud member of Peguis First Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg, with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education (2014) and is currently pursuing her post baccalaureate in Guidance Counselling. She has over 20 years’ experience in Indigenous education as a teacher, program coordinator, and an academic advisor. Crystal utilizes a holistic strength-based approach in her work and believes that success of any measure must be celebrated. In addition to supporting students her role also facilitates Indigenous Student Centre advising programs, events, and initiatives. Of Crystal’s many interests, her favorites include beading, sewing, reading, DIY, and ATVing.
Bailey (she/her/hers) is Métis/Scottish and was born and raised in rural Treaty 1 territory. She is a first-generation UM alum [BHEcol/20] and enjoys spending her off time birding and beading.
As someone with experience in mental health and peer-to-peer programming, Bailey is passionate about supporting, uplifting, and empowering students to reach their goals and aspirations using a holistic and strengths-based lens. She believes in the importance of belonging and how a sense of relation to one’s community can improve well-being.
Driven by this in her work, she hopes to provide a space and the opportunity for Indigenous students to feel welcome and connected to the UM Indigenous community through her role as an advisor and the coordinator for the Qualico Bridge to Success Program and the Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program.
As a passion project, Bailey also co-founded and co-leads the UM Indigenous Birding Club to promote traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge, share birding as a means for self-care, and encourage UM students, faculty, staff and alumni to engage in environmental stewardship.
Isca Spillett (She/Her/Iskwew) is mixed heritage of Inninewak (Cree), Metis and Trinidadian bloodlines and was born and raised in Winnipeg. Isca is a UM alumnus, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and has a continuing interest in promoting Indigenous Wellness including plant medicine.
Trained by Knowledge Keeper, Josephine Big George to conduct Cedar Bath Ceremonies, Isca weaves this ceremony along with Focusing Orientation Therapy and Harm Reduction approaches when supporting folks.
Isca participates in ceremony at both the Sprucewoods Sundance and Gathering of Sacred Pipes Sundance (Pipestone, MN). She is a mother to her 4-year-old daughter, Northstar, and enjoys spending her free time harvesting medicines from the land and passing teachings down to her daughter.
Isca is dedicated to supporting students using the Medicine Wheel teachings (intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual) to ensure that students achieve academic success while being a part of a community on campus.
Storm (he/him) is a member of Attawapiskat First Nation located within Treaty 9 territory on the remote James Bay coast. He also has paternal ties to Cumberland House located in Treaty 5 territory. Storm holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Winnipeg, with a specialization in Criminal Justice. Storm’s career journey has been marked by roles that underscore his commitment to serving communities and individuals in need. His previous experience includes working as a Hearings Advisor Assistant within the Refugee Influx Processing Centre for the Canada Border Services Agency. Storm also served as the Governance Secretary at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) where he supported the Executive Director in all aspects of their responsibilities to the Governing and Survivors Circle. Storm’s journey is marked by a commitment to listening to and understanding the perspectives of those he serves.
Storm is honoured to be part of the Indigenous Student Centre team and looks forward to working closely with students to support their academic and personal goals. He will coordinate the EmpoweringU financial wellness program in addition to student advising.
The Indigenous Leadership Programming team is responsible for creating transformative, student-centered, and identity-affirming leadership development opportunities rooted in Indigenous cultures that support the personal, educational, and professional growth and success of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students.
Born and raised in Ile Des Chênes, Manitoba, Justin Rasmussen is a proud member of the Red River Métis nation. His pronouns are he, him, his.
With a diverse academic background, Justin holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He also completed Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Zoology from the University of Manitoba, along with a Bachelor's degree in Geography from the University of Winnipeg. Justin is also an alum of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference (2017).
Since 2014, Justin has been serving as an advisor to students, offering guidance and support. In 2016, he took on the role of coordinator for the Indigenous Circle of Empowerment student leadership development program, creating safe spaces where students could develop their strengths and build community.
Justin's commitment to community and education led him to chair the Indigenous Student Affairs Network (ISAN) with ACPA from 2021 to 2023. He continues to serve as the Chair of the ISAN Awards committee, recognizing the accomplishments of Indigenous Student Affairs Professionals.
Currently, Justin holds the position of Director within the Indigenous Leadership Programming team at the University of Manitoba, which is a team that creates opportunities for Indigenous students to discover and develop their strengths.
Outside of his professional responsibilities, Justin co-leads the UM Indigenous Birding Club, blending his love for nature, student affairs, and Indigenous knowledge.
Sadie Lavoie (They/Them) is a proud Anishinaabe Two-Spirit from Sagkeeng First Nation in Treaty 1 territory, and a member of the Turtle Clan. They graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies and Political Science. Since the emergence of the Idle No More movement, Sadie has been actively involved in their community as a community organizer, campaign coordinator, graphic artist, published poet, and education facilitator. Their primary focus is advocating for Indigenous rights and culture, with an emphasis on Two-Spirit and Indigenous matriarchal perspectives. Sadie also encourages Two-Spirit youth to embrace their talents and engage in Indigenous leadership guided by the Anishinaabek seven teachings.
During their time at the University of Winnipeg, Sadie held various leadership roles, including National Executive Representative for the Circle of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Students of the Canadian Federation of Students, Vice-President of External Affairs for the University of Winnipeg Students' Association, Aboriginal Student Commissioner for the Canadian Federation of Students-MB, and Co-President of the UW Aboriginal Student Council. They contributed to student-led initiatives like the Indigenous Course Requirement and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign. Additionally, Sadie represented the Canadian Climate Youth Coalition at the UN COP22 in Marrakech in 2015 and co-founded Red Rising Magazine, amplifying Indigenous youth voices.
After graduating, Sadie worked as a Community Coordinator with Waniskatan: An Alliance of Hydro Impacted Communities at the University of Manitoba, facilitated art workshops with Art City, and served as a Research Assistant at the University of Saskatchewan, working on social media and website communications with One House Many Nations. Simultaneously, they pursued their passion as an independent graphic artist designer with Bloom + Brilliance.
In recognition of their exceptional leadership, Sadie Lavoie received the Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew Leadership Award at the University of Winnipeg in 2017 and the Next Generation Peacemaker Award from the Peace and Social Justice Studies Association of Canada in the fall of 2019.
We work to attract and retain more Indigenous students, faculty and staff, to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and knowledge within UM's program offerings and to honour First Nations, Métis and Inuit traditions and cultures on our campuses.
Heather McRae (she/her) is a Métis woman with French and Scottish ancestry. She was a member of the first PhD Studies for Aboriginal Scholars (PSAS) cohort at the University of Manitoba and completed her Ph.D. in Education which examined culturally relevant sport for urban Indigenous youth. Heather has worked at the University of Manitoba since 2007 in a variety of student, academic, and administrative roles.
Grace Redhead is registered with Shamattawa First Nation in northern Manitoba, raised in Alberta and BC. Grace graduated from the University of Winnipeg where her studies focused on residential school history. Prior to joining Indigenous Engagement, Grace worked at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Grace lives in Winnipeg with her partner and their two children, Tecumseh and Kateri.
Jenny Trenchard is a settler born in Robinson-Superior Treaty territory, now living on Treaty 1 land. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Education from the University of Winnipeg, and has committed her career to making healthier learning spaces for students. She is a supporter of BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ activism. Currently, she is focused on increasing her knowledge of ongoing processes of settler colonialism and anti-racist informed approaches within universities. She is honoured to have joined the Office of Indigenous Engagement and Communications in 2021.
Kayla Lariviere was born and raised on Treaty 1 territory. She is of mixed Métis and Filipino ancestry, with membership to the Manitoba Métis Federation. Kayla is a proud University of Manitoba alumna, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies and Criminology. During her time as a student, she was active within the Indigenous community on campus, and was a recipient of an Indigenous Award of Excellence in the Trailblazer category. Prior to joining the Indigenous Engagement and Communications team, she worked for the Government of Manitoba’s Natural Resources and Northern Development Department, in the Consultation and Reconciliation Unit. Kayla hopes to share her knowledge, skills and experiences with the team, and is passionate about creating a safe and inclusive environment dedicated to Indigenous values and learning.
Jenna Khan is a settler of East Indian (Guyanese) and Mennonite descent, raised and living on Treaty 1 land.
A graduate of the Creative Communications program at Red River College, Jenna has 15 years of communications experience and is passionate about people, their stories, and the importance of striving to find the right words.
Jenna began her communications career as a journalist and broadcaster. She continues to listen, learn, ask questions, and tell the stories of both people and organizations through her work.
Chelsey Hill grew up in Winnipeg, MB with treaty ties to Peguis First Nation, MB and on her paternal side affiliated with a reserve in B.C. called Lil' Wat First Nation. Chelsey graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Oct '22 with a major in Indigenous Studies and minor in Family Social Sciences from UM. She is thrilled to be starting out a new career in helping promote Indigenous events and Indigenous supports to students just as she utilized these supports when she was a student.
Denise is a Franco-Métis woman from the Red River Valley who is deeply invested in education being the key to opening doorways. A UM alum, she is committed to promoting inclusivity, diversity and cross-cultural understanding. She has worked collaboratively across Manitoba’s Post-Secondary Institutions to form partnerships with external stakeholders, industry sectors, employers, governments, organizations, and councils on behalf of Manitoba’s Indigenous students to create substantive equality and build a vibrant, prosperous Manitoban landscape for all.
Christina Courcelles was born and raised in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory and is registered with Little Grand Rapids First Nation. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg. She has worked over 10 years in an Indigenous school setting and is a strong believer in the importance of education. She is excited to start her new career with the Office of Indigenous Engagement and Communications at the University of Manitoba. Christina lives outside of Winnipeg with her husband Rob and their two cats and dog – Charlie, Fox and Bear.
Nicole LeClair was raised in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory and is Red River Métis ancestry. She is an experienced professional with over 25 years of expertise in advertising, marketing, and communications. She holds diplomas in Public Relations, Marketing, and Management from the University of Winnipeg. Nicole is passionate about planning and executing high impact storytelling and is committed to Indigenous engagement and communications. With her experience and educational background, she is well-equipped to enhance communication and engagement efforts in her community.
Emily was born and raised in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory and is of mixed Red River Métis-European ancestry. Her paternal Métis family comes from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan and has ties to St. Francois Xavier in the Red River settlement. Since graduating with her Bachelor of Education from UM in 2018, Emily has instructed and coordinated community-based educational programming at an Indigenous nonprofit and post-secondary level. Emily accredits these experiences for teaching her the values of generosity, reciprocity, and meaningful engagement with community. Now pursuing her Master of Education, Emily carries these values into her academics and career to advance education for surrounding Indigenous communities.
Kristen was born on Treaty 2 territory and is of mixed settler decent. She graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Great Distinction) majoring in accounting, and later went on to obtain her CPA designation. Kristen has experience working with many First Nations communities in a financial role and is excited to be joining the Indigenous Engagement and Communications team as the Financial Administrator.
Sarah Deckert is a settler who was born in California but who has spent most of her life on Treaty 1 land. As a high school teacher she saw both the systemic inequities facing Indigenous students and the healing that came when they learned from elders, participated in ceremony, and connected with Indigenous mentors. This taught her that she could not heal her students but that she could use her skills and passion to support Indigenous-led initiatives that bring substantive equality to Indigenous students in Manitoba. She is honoured to support the work of the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint as an administrative assistant.
Jerilyn is a member of the Métis Nation in Manitoba with roots embedded in the Red River region. Family, community and ceremony is where she finds her strength and inspiration. Jerilyn was raised in a small, rural community southwest of Winnipeg and has lived in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and at present she resides outside of Winnipeg with her family. Living rurally with open spaces is important to Jerilyn and her family as they enjoy spending time outdoors with their pets, gardening and connecting with nature.
In 2010, Jerilyn graduated from the University of Manitoba ACCESS Programs with her B.A., B.Ed., where she began working for the following ten years in the field of Adult Education at the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD). Jerilyn began her teaching career at CAHRD where she moved into an administrative role as the Assistant Director of Education. She accredits many of her skills, knowledge and connections in various Indigenous communities to the experience she gained from working within CAHRD. At present, Jerilyn is completing her Masters from Brandon University in the Educational Administration program.
Jerilyn began working at The University of Manitoba at The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning in 2020 as an Indigenous Initiatives Educator where she worked alongside Leah Fontaine in providing consultations, research, resources and workshops related to Indigenous education, methodologies, pedagogies, epistemologies and support in approaching reconciliation in teaching and learning for faculty and graduate students at the UM.
Indigenous education and initiatives have long been a passion for Jerilyn, and she is excited to work and collaborate with colleagues, communities and partnerships to create equitable and inclusive learning opportunities for Indigenous students.
Jenelle Manitowabi (she/her) is an Anishinaabe woman, and a member of Lac Seul First Nation located in treaty 3 territory. She has paternal ties to Wiikwemkoong and M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. Leaving her community to attend Sault College allowed Jenelle to see the importance of community support and involvement for Indigenous students and she is happy to continue this work as a project coordinator with the university.