• Indspire, award winners, Indigenous

    The 2018 Indspire award winners. Back row, from left to right: Dr. Mike DeGagne, Speaker of the House of Commons Geoff Regan, Greg Hill, Paul Chartrand. Front row, from left to right: Michael Linklater, Nicole Bourque-Bouchier, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur, Dr. Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, Tracie Leost, Kye7e Cecilia DeRose, Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams, Theland Kicknosway, Ashley Callingbull and elder Verna McGregor. (Photo: Courtesy Indspire)

The first Inuk heart surgeon, a woman who was instrumental in repatriating potlatch artifacts, a law professor who helped develop the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and two youth who ran more than 100 kilometres each for missing and murdered Indigenous women. These are just five of the 13 distinguished First Nations, Inuit and Métis recipients of the 2018 Indspire Awards, announced yesterday in Ottawa.

For 25 years Indspire, the largest funder of Indigenous post-secondary education outside of the federal government, has presented these awards to promote self-esteem and pride in Indigenous communities and highlight outstanding role models for Indigenous youth. This year’s awards ceremony will be held in Winnipeg on March 23, 2018.

“The 2018 Indspire Awards are the highest honour bestowed on Indigenous people, marking the significant contributions of our people in Canada,” says Roberta L. Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire and Executive Producer of the Indspire Awards. “We not only recognize the recipients’ individual successes, their discipline, drive and determination to set high standards and accomplish their goals, but also share and celebrate the impacts of their stories and journeys with all Canadians.”

Here’s a look at this year’s award winners:

Dr. Gloria Cranmer Webster, ‘Namgis First Nation, B.C. 

For her long and distinguished career promoting Indigenous culture. She was instrumental in the repatriation of artifacts seized by authorities in a 1921 potlatch raid, was the first Indigenous woman to attend the University of British Columbia back in 1949 and helped develop the written form of the Kwak’wala language.

Greg Hill, Kanyen’kehaka at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Ont. 

For his work as head of the Indigenous Art Department at the National Gallery of Canada.

Nicole Bourque-Bouchier, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Alta. 

For her work in a male-dominated field as CEO and owner of the construction firm Bouchier Groupin.

Cecilia Dick DeRose, Secwepemc Nation, B.C.

For her work preserving Indigenous languages — herself a residential school survivor.

Theland Kicknosway, Walpole Island Bkejwanong Territory, Ont.

For fundraising and increasing awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women by running 134 kilometres, and for his part leading the new Liberal government into Rideau Hall with his hand drum.

Dr. Lorna Williams, Lil’wat Nation, B.C.

For her work as professor emerita of Indigenous education at the University of Victoria and introducing a mandatory course in Indigenous education for all teacher education programs in British Columbia.

Dr. Evelyn Voyageur, Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, B.C.

For promoting Indigenous health in a number of capacities, most recently as B.C. representative for the Aboriginal Nurses Association and member of the board of St. Joseph’s General Hospital in B.C.  

Paul Chartrand, Métis, St. Laurent, Man.

For his work serving on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and for representing Indigenous people for three decades during the development of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Dr. Mike DeGagné, Animakee Wa Zhing, Ont.

For his work as founding executive director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, a national organization that addressed the legacy of Indian residential schools.

Michael Linklater, Thunderchild First Nation, Sask.

For his achievement as the first-ranked three-on-three basketball player in the Americas and for founding Boys with Braids.

Ashley Callingbull, Enoch Cree Nation, Alta.

For her achievements as the first First Nations woman to become both Miss Canada (2010) and Miss Universe (2015).

Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, Nunavut, Inuit Nunangat

For her work as the first Inuk woman to become a cardiac surgery resident.

Tracie Léost, St. Laurent, Man.

For raising money and awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls by running 115 kilometres in four days.