UWinnipeg alumni make CBC’s Future 40 list
The University of Winnipeg community congratulates all of the CBC’s class of 2018 nominees and finalists for its CBC Manitoba Future 40 campaign. The annual list highlights Manitoba’s new generation of leaders, builders, and change-makers under the age of 40. A total of 15 people were nominated (30 percent) with ties to UWinnipeg and six making the final cut.
Here are the UWinnipeg alumni who made the final cut.
Dr. Lyle McKinnon (BSc’01), born and raised in Winnipeg, is an assistant professor in the Departments of Medical Microbiology Infectious Diseases and Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. He has made significant contributions to HIV transmission research, including an assessment of HIV risk and incidence in male and female sex workers. McKinnon has published on specific immune responses to HIV crucial to HIV vaccine and disease progression research. His body of research represents more than 10 years of contributions to HIV immunology, particularly relevant to initial HIV infection with important implications for HIV prevention.
McKinnon has published several research manuscripts in prestigious research journals in his field. He is currently studying HIV prevention and inflammation, which has implications for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While working in Kenya and South Africa, he engaged key populations around HIV research and prevention activities, and as a result increased awareness of HIV risk and prevention measures. These outreach activities have brought international students to Manitoba, which increases the profile of medical microbiology research in the province at the global level. As a new investigator, McKinnon has already made leaps and bounds in our understanding of HIV risk and prevention, and is rising star in the Canadian and international medical microbiology field.
Former Wesmen player Uzoma Asagwara is a force. She is founder of QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color) Winnipeg, a collective dedicated to providing safer spaces for QTPOC and centering their voices and experiences. QTPOC has been incredibly successful in its mandate, and has also contributed overall to enriching the cultural scene of Winnipeg.
With Asagwara as organizer, QTPOC has been responsible for an impressive amount of quality programming, including high school outreach programs, spoken word performances, networking brunches, dance parties, art lectures, board game nights, and public talks, to name only a few of the diverse events. These events not only help build community for QTPOC-identified people, they also advocate for the existence and flourishing of this oft-marginalized community in Winnipeg.
She is a dynamic and convincing public speaker, and community organizer who is uncompromising in her vision of a more socially just world built upon centering and celebrating the perspectives and experiences of those most marginalized. What is perhaps most impressive about her community organizing is that she is a full-time psychiatric nurse, meaning everything that she does with and for QTPOC is on top of her regular, highly demanding job.
Derrek Bentley (BA’15) has devoted his life to social justice, education and helping others. While growing up francophone in Manitoba, he has dedicated all his free time to bringing awareness to important causes. He founded the project A Homeless Night, which raises awareness of homelessness in Manitoba. He continues to volunteer in many grassroots organizations, such as Conseil Jeunesse Provincial, and as a board member for Canadian Parents for French National, all while completing his master’s in peace and conflict studies. He works full-time at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as an assistant manager, further educating the public on crucial social issues. All this is incredible on its own. To only make his story more incredible, Bentley has accomplished all of this while trying to heal after the murder of his brother in 2014. Long before that, and ever since, he has dedicated his life to promoting peace and social justice. Bentley’s passion for others continues to amaze me, and truly fits the definition of perseverance and selflessness. He is just getting started. I can only wait and be amazed by what he will accomplish in the next 25 years.
“I was getting bored with working and doing the regular, everyday things. So I just started coming out. To really know what’s happening in your city, to have an opinion about it, you need to know what’s going on in your whole city and not just be sheltered in your little area,” he said.
Bogue also quietly volunteers for a number of arts events and festivals around Manitoba, and is part of the framework that helps build a better Manitoba.
Levi Foy (BA Honours’10) is a queer, two-spirit member of the Couchiching First Nation, who was raised in Treaty Two territories and formally educated in Winnipeg and Guelph, ON.
Foy is a person who uses his gifts to create spaces that honour and love queer people, especially QTBIPOC. From the creation four years ago of Like That, a now wildly popular drop-in for LGBT2SQ* people that were not comfortable accessing more mainstream LGBT2SQ* organizations, to the first Two-Spirit Pow Wow in Canada, to Ghiziwenimin — a group working to support queer newcomers through their refugee claims and settling into life in the city, Foy has been a leader in shaping these projects into spaces and places where folks pull together to take care of each other and themselves.
Foy makes family wherever he goes. As Prairie Sky, one of Winnipeg’s hottest drag performers, Foy takes the definition of family to the next level. From partnering with the Winnipeg Public Library to bring drag queen story time to our kids, mentoring new drag performers, creating The Prairie Ball — a semi-annual event that carves out space to explore identity, gender, and fabulousness, regular drag bingos at the Goodwill, and sale of the drag queen delivered tacos that help support Like That in keeping its doors open, Prairie Sky is the fire to Foy’s heart and the community is better for it.
Kobra Rahimi (BA’14) lived the first 14 years of her life in a refugee camp in Iraq. Since arriving in Canada, Rahimi has committed herself to turning her family’s struggles into opportunities to be a positive addition to the Winnipeg community.
Passionate about higher education, Rahimi completed her degree at UWinnipeg and then moved on to study law at the University of Manitoba. She received the Emerging Leaders Award for displaying exceptional leadership qualities within the university community. In the past few months, Rahimi has become both a lawyer and mother, receiving her Call to the Bar in June following articles at Legal Aid and celebrating the birth of her daughter in October.
Rahimi sits on numerous boards, including the Social Planning Council and Islamic Social Services. In 2014, she co-organized a rally of over 1,000 people to demand clean drinking water for Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. In 2016, she coordinated student placements at Welcome Place to assist asylum seekers, a program that continues today.
Rahimi regularly speaks at community events about her family’s story of displacement, loss, finding of home, and stability in Manitoba. She was a guest speaker at the annual Holocaust & Human Rights Symposium in 2016, and spoke alongside Lawrence Hill in an event hosted by CBC. Through her accomplishments, advocacy, and daily work, Rahimi is an inspiration to young newcomer refugees. She is undoubtedly one of Manitoba’s leaders shaping our future.
UWinnipeg student Cameron Lozinski has a passion for helping people, and he demonstrates his abilities through his achievements. Lozinski is creating a Swampy Cree language app to revitalize our family’s ancestral language and teaches conversational Cree every Tuesday at UWinnipeg. Lozinski is an avid volunteer. He’s fundraising to participate on his 6th Habitat for Humanity Global Village Build Trip to help build a house in Macedonia this spring 2019 and he curls with Special Olympics Manitoba. Lozinski has received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award, the Young Humanitarian Award from Manitoba Teachers Society, the Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award and was chosen as one of Ace Burpee’s Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans in 2017.
Angeline Nelson, Director of Community Learning and Engagement at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, also made the final list. Nelson is a Muskego Anishinaabekwe from Bigaawinashkoziibiing, Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation.
Her interest in science — specifically chemistry — from a young age led to her earn a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and zoology. She has always wanted to create opportunities for other Indigenous youth to be engaged in science, have an opportunity to practice hands-on experiments, and recognize their own potential. Nelson considers herself a lifelong learner of Midewiwin teachings, Anishinaabemowin and cultural knowledge. and the strength, resiliency, and humility of Indigenous people who have a strong connection to who they are as Indigenous people.
This has helped her to focus her efforts on language revitalization, creating opportunities for learning about culture, learning and teaching regalia making, and ensuring that programming for Indigenous youth is “indigenized.”
Both her cultural connection and fascination in science have led her to her current role at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, where she ensures both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth have multiple opportunities to be engaged in InSTEAM programming from a young age and that Indigenous people have opportunities to learn Indigenous languages and have a space to call their own on a university campus.
Last year she developed free womens’ self-defense programming to create change for Indigenous women, especially for those who may be experiencing or have experienced violence.