Courtney Bear is a member from Peguis First Nation. Courtney is currenting in her 2nd year in the Master’s in Development Practice at the University of Winnipeg. In 2017 she graduated from the University of Winnipeg with her Bachelor Arts in Criminal Justice and Conflict Resolution. In completing her degree Courtney was in the Indigenous Summer Scholar program ISSP conducting research with Dr. Melanie O’Gorman on Clean drinking water on First Nation Reserves. Her passion is working with Indigenous peoples who may need help, assistances and support. One of my beliefs are education is the key to successes. Courtney has determination and a drive to complete her Master’s because she want to be a role model for other Indigenous peoples, her community and her family.
Laura Forsythe is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. Her research Ka-akimaahk lii Michif: Including Métis in Post-Secondary Education focuses on addressing pan-Indigenous approaches to Indigenous post-secondary specifically asking How are Métis experiencing and being included in post-secondary institutions?
As a graduate student, Forsythe has published two peer-reviewed co-edited collections featuring Indigenous research with a third publication coming to market Summer 2020. Forsythe’s research contributions include numerous peer-reviewed publications, academic conference paper presentations, and the creation of a Michif Language program at the University of Manitoba. On-campus Forsythe has advocated for Indigenous students on campus, sitting on several senate and faculty committees to ensure their voice is heard, organized the largest Indigenous Research graduate conference in North America, and created an active Metis community on campus. Since starting her Ph.D journey, Forsythe has been awarded the University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, Aboriginal Circle of Educators Trailblazer award, Indigenous Doctoral Excellence Award, and the Doctoral Award for Indigenous Students.
Forsythe’s commitment to Métis community engagement has included becoming a member of the Board of Directors of the Louis Riel Institute (LRI), a Delegate for the Métis Education and Training (MET) Local Advisory Committee and establishing the MMF Bison Local at the UofM. As co-lead in Manitoba for the National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous Education, Forsythe aims to highlight successful Indigenous educational programs with a specialization in Michif language revitalization. Being selected to represent her institution as a candidate for the 2020 Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada Graduate Award of Merit was incredibly humbling. Being one of the four women in Western Canada chosen to receive the award has been unimaginable. The SWAAC award serves as a reminder that we must not doubt ourselves and our contributions as empowered women.
Kristen Gray is a PhD candidate in the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University, as well as in the joint SFU-UBC Bioinformatics Graduate program. Her research applies computational approaches to analysing microbial genomes and investigating the evolution of pathogens of clinical and agricultural interest. Kristen is particularly interested in investigating regions of microbial genomes that enable the rapid dissemination of genes involved in causing disease and resisting treatment by antibiotics. Her work has applications for public health microbiology and tracking infectious disease outbreaks. She has received several awards for her achievements including a Canada Graduate Scholarship M, SFU-UBC NSERC CREATE Scholarship, and three scholarships through SFU, including one of the first Omics Data Science Initiative Graduate Scholarships.
Kristen is also heavily involved in initiatives to bring together passionate scientists and support the growth of other students. She has been a key leader in the SFU Omics group, spearheading efforts to make better known the excellent omics research happening at SFU, form connections between students requiring support, and provide opportunities for students to present their research and grow as science communicators. She has also been an organizer for Hackseq, an annual three-day event that brings together programmers and scientists to work intensively on problems in genomics and bioinformatics. Kristen also serves as the president of her departmental graduate caucus, where she is responsible for organizing academic and social events for her fellow graduate students, as well as liaising with the department administration about concerns and priorities of departmental graduate students.
Kristen is honoured to be receiving the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada Graduate Award of Merit. This award will be invaluable in supporting her as she continues her studies and she is deeply appreciative of the work the SWAAC does to support women pursuing academic success.
Naheda Sahtout is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research is aimed at characterizing the proteins of the thioredoxin system, a system critical for maintaining the proper redox balance in all living organisms, from bacteria of diverse ecological niches, both hot and cold environments, to identify the features of these proteins that maintain their functionality despite changes to the environment.
During her PhD program, Naheda has so far written and published two peer-reviewed first author papers, received numerous awards for her high academic performance, outstanding research work and philanthropy, participated as a teaching assistant in multiple departments across campus, and attended and presented at more than half a dozen regional, national and international conferences.
It was during her PhD program that Naheda developed a genuine passion for creating initiatives that would enhance the graduate student experience, promoting active learning in STEM, as well as advocating for graduate student needs. In the past six years, she cofounded and organised the 1st and 2nd Graduate Students’ Symposium for the Department of Chemistry, founded and organised the 1st Career Day Talks for the Department of Chemistry, and championed the Good Breakfast initiative. She served as the Vice President External and President of the Graduate Students’ Association, actively participated in science outreach and travelled to rural and Indigenous communities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and engaged with the Saskatoon Open Door Society to settle newcomers and refugees. Naheda also participated in a two-week Graduate Study Program with the United Nations, and developed a five year scholarship for graduate students with a disability.
Naheda is humbled and honoured to be a recipient of the 2020 SWAAC Graduate Student of Merit Award. She hopes that her leadership and philanthropy has inspired and empowered other women in post-secondary education.