ACCESS awards evening honours five graduates

Sounds of celebration filled Riddell Hall as UWinnipeg honoured five exceptional graduates.

The 2019 ACCESS awards evening honoured the success of graduates from UWinnipeg’s WEC (Winnipeg Education Centre) and (CATEP) Community-based Aboriginal Teacher Education programs.

The success of the program was also honoured during a star blanket presentation by Annette Greene and Bernadette Smith, MLA Point Douglas.

The award recipients, Kim Angus (BEd 13, BMus 96), Lisa Dumas-Neufeld (BEd 14), Chris Eccles (BEd 17), Melissa Harder (BEd 16), and Jennifer Leslie (BEd 18), were surrounded by a roomful of cheering family and friends, past classmates and teachers.

“The journey to where I am today is evidence that courage is essential,” said Harder as she accepted her award.

When Harder began UWinnipeg’s ACCESS program, she had separated from her husband and was balancing new responsibilities as a single mother with the recent loss of her father and grandfather, who died within the same year.

“I was looking for an environment that would re-focus me, support my passion for learning, and offer me a career avenue where I could add life and love back into a world that instantly felt empty,” she said.

There were not many dry eyes in the room as recipients each took a turn sharing their moving stories of hardship, resilience, and success. 

Turning pain into power was the theme of Dumas-Neufeld’s acceptance speech. She had never been a traditional learner, and as a youth felt stuck between two worlds, reading psychology textbooks in her group-home bedroom, eagerly soaking up knowledge while moving from home to home with her belongings in garbage bags.

She is thankful to the ACCESS program for giving her the tools to create a career she is passionate about.

“I am blessed to currently be in a school that allows me to try new things, make mistakes, and within a division that is progressive and growing,” she said.

In addition to family and friends, many teachers, administrators and school board representatives joined in the celebration.

The ACCESS education programs are an off-campus extension of UWinnipeg’s Integrated Bachelor of Education Program that works in partnership with dedicated partners in the Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, Lord Selkirk, River East Transcona, and Louis Riel School Divisions, as well as Sagkeeng and Roseau River First Nations. 

UWinnipeg’s first ACCESS program, Winnipeg Education Centre (WEC) was launched in 1998. Since 2004, when members of the initial WEC cohort crossed the stage, 209 students have graduated from the program. More than 75% have been hired and have taken their places as teachers and administrators in local schools.

To view more photos of the event, you can view a full collection of images on Flickr.


Jennifer Cox, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
T: 204.988.7671 E:


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