Events

Notice of Resignation for UWSA VPSA, Melanie William

February 4th, 2021

On January 27, 2021, The UWSA Board of Directors accepted and ratified the resignation of the 2020-2021 UWSA Vice President of Student Affairs, Melanie William. In August 2020, former UWSA President, Jibril Hussein and VPEA, Breanna Belisle had also tendered their resignations to the board.

Over the summer, former executives shared several experiences of harassment and discrimination while at the UWSA, following which the 2020-21 Executive team were placed on administrative leave. During this period, they experienced significant mental harassment and threats on social media from the UWinnipeg community as well.

The UWSA acknowledges the experiences shared by the former executives in their letters and strongly supports the decision to center their mental health. As an organization, we commit to doing more to prioritize students’ well-being and safety over institutional expectations.

We recognize the role UWSA plays in protecting and nurturing the well-being and potential of UWSA members. Oppression or harassment in our communities – online or offline – is never okay and we plan to work towards creating safer and non-violent spaces for discussion.

We recognized that we are working and learning in racist and colonial system, and that we have to be uncomfortable, transparent, and resilient to outroot these realities from our communities. For information on the steps we’re taking to address institutional racism at the UWSA, please refer to our previous post here.

To review Melanie’s letter of resignation, please click here: January 27 BOD Open Session Minutes (Draft)

An Update on Alternate Grading Options for Fall 2020

December 23rd, 2020

On December 22, 2020, the University of Winnipeg Senate voted to pass the UWSA Motion on Alternate Grading Options for Fall 2020.

For Fall 2020 courses, University of Winnipeg students will be able to make a request to exclude a grade from the calculation of their GPA.

Additionally, students who have received a passing grade for Fall 2020 courses will also be able to request a grade of ‘S’ (Standing) for their course instead. A ‘Standing’ grade will not be included in their GPA calculation.

Before making a request to exercise either option, interested undergraduate students will have to consult an academic advisor and graduate students will have to consult their program advisor. Your request must be submitted by February 12, 2021, and their choice(s) will be noted in your transcript.

Students who have been found guilty of academic misconduct in 2020-21 will not be eligible to make use of either option.

Please note that:

  • Grades excluded in the calculation of their GPA will not be used to calculate GPA for program progression and/or graduation GPA requirements. Students who require a certain grade for program progression must not choose the ‘Standing’ option.
  • Where specific course grades other than ‘Standing’ are required to satisfy UW pre- requisite requirements, for entry into other courses, or admission to other programs, and to satisfy any other program requirements, course grades will continue to be used. A grade of “Standing” cannot be used to satisfy a pre-requisite where a specific letter grade is normally required.
  • What constitutes a passing grade will be determined by the specific faculty.

Academic and Career Services Advisors are there provide guidance on these alternative grading options. Students can contact them at 204.786.9257 or advising@uwinnipeg.ca.

Please visit UWinnipeg’s list of frequently asked questions on final grading options for further information related to alternate grading options.

Motion for Alternate Grading Option for UWinnipeg Students to be Voted on by UWinnipeg Senate on December 22, 2020

December 16th, 2020

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association President, Shawna Péloquin is working with UWSA Senators and UWinnipeg Faculty towards providing students with a flexible grading option for the Fall Winter 2020/21 Term. An amended version of the GPA Calculation Motion that was passed by the UWinnipeg Senate on April 8, 2020 will be voted on by the Senate on December 22, 2020.

If passed, students will be able to access this option when their grades for the current term are released up until February 12, 2021.

We recognize the academic, financial, and personal challenges that many UWinnipeg students are facing due to the pandemic and the impact it has on their education. UWSA is working with UWinnipeg departments and boards towards providing students with options to alleviate some of your hardships.

Updates on the motion will be available at the UWSA website on December 23, 2020. Until the motion is passed, we would like to strongly encourage students to access support if and when they need it. Some of the available supports are listed below:

  • Academic and Career Services Advisors are there to provide guidance with appeals and exam accommodations. Students can contact them at 204.786.9257 or advising@uwinnipeg.ca.
  • UWSA Staff can help you with academic advocacy or appeals. Please email vpsa@theuwsa.ca for more information.
  • Student Counselling staff are currently working remotely and would be pleased to assist you via phone or Zoom video counselling. Student can reach them at 204.988.7611 or studentwellness@uwinnipeg.cafrom Monday-Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
  • UWinnipeg’s Remote Teaching, Learning, and Research Hub provides valuable tips and resources to help students and educators succeed while working remotely.

In solidarity,
The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association

Five Years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report and Calls to Action

December 15th, 2020

On December 15, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its Final Report – a report that laid the foundation for a path forward towards “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.” On June 2, 2015, more than 700 community members gathered in The University of Winnipeg’s Riddell Hall to witness Senator Murray Sinclair deliver the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and read out the 94 Calls to Action. After listening to the experience and learning of the trauma caused by Canada’s residential school system, it was clear that education would play a crucial role in moving towards healing.

“Education got us into this mess,” Justice (now Senator) Sinclair had said, “and education will get us out of this mess.”

Over the last five years, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association has been honouring the recommendations of the TRC Report and 94 Calls to Action as it works toward creating an equitable campus at UWinnipeg that both acknowledges and works to dismantle systemic racism.

Today, UWSA 2020-21 President, Shawna Péloquin acknowledges the impact of the TRC on the people in her life. Péloquin says, “To Our Cocoums (also spelled as ‘Kookum’ in Manitoba), our mothers, aunties and all our resilient matriarchs that have carried the heart of our identities through generations of hardship, hurt and violence: We are forever grateful for your perseverance in the face of genocide, for your resilience in raising your voice for the Truth to be heard, and for the love you’ve guided us with.  Today as we acknowledge the Truth and Reconciliation report and the accomplishment and improvement that happens since in our Indigenous collective, it’s important to me to remind us that without our Elders’ determination we would not be who and where we are now, and where we need to be for our next generation. Kizagin Cocoums.”

The UWSA would also like to acknowledge the work of the UWinnipeg Aboriginal Student Service Centre (ASSC) and of the Indigenous Students’ Association for creating space for Indigenous students on campus and for the crucial supports that they provide.

UWinnipeg is home to several Elders who have supported Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike in taking the steps necessary to engage in the process of reconciliation all while managing their own experiences, including inter-generational trauma. Today, UWSA would like to acknowledge the work of all the past and current Elders on campus. Their contributions are immeasurable and their names are listed below:

  • Dan Thomas
  • Sharon Pelletier
  • Margaret Osborne
  • Ruth Christie
  • Calvin Pompana
  • Larry Monkman
  • Robert Green
  • Hector Pierre
  • Clara Hart
  • Levinia Brown
  • Linda McEvoy
  • Robert Apetagon
  • Barb Nepinak

Since the TRC report was published, we have seen many new initiatives by UWinnipeg like the establishment of the Urban Inner-City Studies Department at Merchant’s Corner, Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, Indigenous language courses, Indigenous Summer Scholars Program, Indigenous Advisory Circle, and much more.

Some of the initiatives started and supported by the UWSA include the student-led initiative of implementing the Indigenous Course Requirement at UWinnipeg, campaigns like Divestment, ReconciliACTION, the creation of a UWSA Indigenous Advisory Circle, and more. None of this would be possible without the contributions of UWSA Indigenous Executives, Directors, and staff who have persevered despite the challenges of working in a colonial institution.

Today is also a time to reflect that although we have made progress, there is a long way to go towards achieving reconciliation. Undoing the trauma of generations will take much more than five years. We encourage all students, faculty, and staff of the UWSA and UWinnipeg to educate themselves on the 94 Calls to Action, and to think creatively and introspectively regarding how the Calls to Action can be applied to their personal and professional lives. For Non-Indigenous UWSA members, we recommend the TRC Reading Guide by Manitoba Harm Reduction Network.

To commemorate this event, the UWSA will host a de-colonization focused workshop in the 2021 Winter Term. More details will be available in January 2021.

 

In solidarity,

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association

Addressing the 2019 BIPoC Lounge Temporary Closure

December 8th, 2020

In November 4, 2019, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association temporarily closed the UWSA BIPoC Lounge, a space for racialized students on campus to gather and find community.

The decision was made by the 2019-20 Executive team, in consultation with UWSA staff, due to concerns around substance abuse and conflict between lounge members, particularly Black and Indigenous students.

The UWSA acknowledges that our response in November failed racialized students on campus when they needed us. Any decision should have been made with consultation with lounge members from a harm reduction lens and we needed to come from a place of understanding instead of blame.

Anti-Blackness and systemic racism at the UWSA is something we have been working on for the last few months and we’re grateful for the students and employees who have raised their voice to hold us accountable.

In order to move towards healing, we recognize that change must come from within. We will make sure that marginalized voices are represented in our decisions going forward. When making tough decisions, we are committed to involving the communities affected by those decisions and communicating transparently.

To start the process, we are reviewing and updating our Positive Space Policy. This Policy will guide us in creating a safer space for People of Colour at the UWSA. Until the policy is constructed, our service centres will operate under the guidelines set by UWinnipeg’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy, which seeks to create a campus environment where members of the University community are free from harassment and discrimination.

The BIPOC Lounge is currently active online and we’re grateful for the members that continue to support the lounge and persevere despite our shortcomings. We are dedicated to creating safer and better ways to come together while respecting and acknowledging the experiences of BIPoC students.

If you have any concerns regarding discrimination or harassment in any UWSA service centre, or  wish to provide feedback on policy development, please contact our Services Manager, Binara Hewagamage at b.hewagamage@theuwsa.ca.

In reconciliation,
The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association

UWSA Board of Directors Meeting: Wednesday, December 2, 2020

November 30th, 2020

The next UWSA Board of Director Meeting will be conducted over Zoom on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 5.30 PM.

Please review the agenda here: December 2 BOD Agenda

All UWinnipeg students are welcome to attend Open Session. Please email t.hanan@theuwsa.ca by 4.30 PM on the day of the meeting for the Zoom link using your UWinnipeg webmail address and your Student ID Number.

All participants are expected to abide by the University’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy.

UWSA Supports Coalition Calling for Truly Universal Healthcare Coverage

November 24th, 2020

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association strongly endorses the recently launched Healthcare for All Manitoba Campaign.

Healthcare for All Manitoba is launching a campaign calling on the province of Manitoba to immediately provide truly universal health care coverage to all residents of Manitoba. Many in Manitoba are not covered by provincial health care including migrant workers with work permits of less than one year, international students, many refugee claimants, and undocumented migrants. The digital launch will feature community advocates and migrants with lived experience highlighting how the campaign demands will protect the health of everyone in the province to ensure the health of all.

“Healthcare is a basic human right and a fundamental part of responsible public health,” says Dorota Blumczynska, Executive Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba and President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “The pandemic has made it clear: we must ensure everyone in Manitoba has access to health care to protect the health and safety of all who live in the province.”

Currently, many uninsured people will avoid seeking health care due to fear of being charged for the care and some will fear possible detention and deportation if their immigration status is reported to the authorities. Without adequate health care coverage if they are ill, many will feel pressured to continue to work due to financial circumstances.

“Many migrant workers have proven to be the essential workers needed in our province during the pandemic, but they are also at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and becoming ill while working,” says Diwa Marcelino, who supports migrant workers through Migrante Manitoba. “Providing comprehensive health coverage to all migrants, regardless of status, is essential to ensuring the rights and health of all our community members.”

In 2018 the Province cut off international students from accessing public healthcare in Manitoba. The Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba points out that the annual cost of delivering this healthcare coverage was only 3.1 million compared to the $400+ million dollars international students contribute to Manitoba’s economy each year. The loss of healthcare combined with even-more drastically increasing tuition fees puts international students’ well-being at risk while also eliminating any incentive for future students to choose Manitoba as a place to study.

The Healthcare for All coalition has a core set of demands. It calls on the province to immediately provide comprehensive and free healthcare coverage to all residents of Manitoba regardless of immigration status. Second, the coalition urges the province to develop and implement a multilingual communication campaign to inform all those currently without provincial health care coverage about the availability of free COVID testing and treatment without a health card. Third, this means the province must inform all healthcare institutions and providers of expanded coverage for those without health insurance. Finally, the coalition calls on the province to create and enforce strict confidentiality policies and provide staff with training to protect the safety of residents with precarious immigration status and ensure they can access health care without jeopardizing their ability to remain in Canada.

“I know people in my community who have lost their immigration status for a variety of reasons and become undocumented,” says Maggie Yeboah of African Communities of Manitoba Inc. “The fear of living without health coverage during a pandemic, combined with the fear of risking their ability to stay in Canada if they do seek help, is overwhelming. We need to respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people in our community and ensure the right to access healthcare without fear.”

Healthcare for All Manitoba is a new coalition bringing together organizations who support migrants in a range of areas and see the need for equitable healthcare access. Founding organizations include: Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), Manitoba Association of Community Health (MACH), Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO), Migrante Manitoba, Canadian Federation of Students, CUPE Manitoba, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, and the Manitoba Health Coalition.

For more information on the coalition’s demands and the most current list of partners, visit www.cfsmb.ca/campaigns/healthcareforall.

UWSA Special General Meeting 2020

October 29th, 2020

Join us for the 2020 Special General Meeting on November 4 from 12.30 – 1.30 PM. The SGM is a chance for UWSA members to receive an update on the budget and operations, meet the directors elected in the By-Election, and propose motions.

The 2020 SGM will be held via Zoom. To pre-register, please email us at j.black@theuwsa.ca using your WebMail and include your student number in the e-mail. Food vouchers will be provided at the event.

SGM Agenda and Package

SGM 2020 Agenda
2019 Audited Financial Statements
AGM 2020 PACKAGE
Operating Budget 2020-21

Questions? Email chair@theuwsa.ca or j.black@theuwsa.ca. 

2020 UWSA By-Election Results*

October 28th, 2020

2020 By-Election Results*

Turnout: 870 (8.8%) of 9850 electors voted in this ballot.

Recreation and Athletics Director:

  • Total votes casted for Jacob Wiseman: 611 votes (86.8%)

Science Director:

  • Total votes casted for Olivia Ferreira: 542 votes (71.6%)
  • Total votes casted for Isaiah Zacharias: 215 votes (28.4%)

Women & Non-Binary Students’ Director:

  • Total votes casted for Arshiya Bagheri Torbehbar: 660 votes (90.3%)

Board of Regents Representative: 

  • Total votes casted for Holly Hunter: 658 votes (91.4%)

PACE Director:

  • Total votes casted for Valerie Bermudez: 685 votes (92.7%)

Vice-President External Affairs:

  • Total votes casted for Jonathan Henderson: 647 votes (87.8%)

President:

  • Total votes casted for Shawna Peloquin: 660 votes (88.6%)

Click here to view detailed voting results.

*Results are unofficial until ratified at the UWSA Special General Meeting on November 4, 2020.

Addressing Institutional Racism at the UWSA

October 27th, 2020

Dear students and community members,

Over the last few months, we have gone through a significant learning experience that has led us to re-evaluate the way we work with and support students. In August 2020, two out of the three UWSA Executives resigned in the midst of a very difficult situation.

As the situation evolved in June, the UWSA asked the University of Winnipeg’s Human Rights and Diversity Office (HRDO) to conduct an investigation so that the UWSA Board could understand what had occurred from everyone’s perspective.  The University was unable to investigate because the Policy does not allow for a complaint to be brought forward on behalf of another party, and because the issue fell beyond its jurisdiction. The UWSA Board recognized that it needed to address the issue at a deeper, organizational level and hired an external consultant to engage in a process which allowed the UWSA to examine its strengths and weaknesses.

All of this was happening in the midst of two global events: the COVID-19 pandemic and the mobilization of the Black Lives Matter movement. While every student has been impacted by both events, the experiences of Black, Racialized and Indigenous peoples have been profound.

A final report of the organizational process is in progress.  However, some emerging conclusions are listed below:

  • The UWSA exists to support students at the University of Winnipeg. The student body is diverse and representative of different social, cultural, and political identities. Honouring and respecting that diversity is fundamental to the UWSA in its work.
  • To respect the diversity of the UWSA membership, we need to strengthen our platforms and spaces that promote dialogue and debate. We need safe spaces for disagreement, and to maintain respect for each student engaged in these conversations. When it comes to supporting racism, elections, and open discussions, the UWSA must, and can, do better.
  • While social media has some value in raising issues, we were reminded that important social issues like addressing racism cannot be resolved solely through social media.
  • We learned that the UWSA will need to find better ways to support Executives as they transition, particularly when they have very different ideological foundations or approaches. We are committed to establishing a change management strategy between Executives that honours both sets of student leaders – one group transitioning out and the other coming in.
  • Most Executives have ambitious agendas that cannot be achieved in their one-year term. We need to engage students with UWSA initiatives and strategies that go beyond the annual election cycle and campaigns. Many of the issues that students want to see changed are systemic in nature and take longer than one year.
  • We want the election process to be focused on the strengths that are our student leaders bring, instead of replicating systems and processes that are known to harm individuals. We want to get creative and constructive about our election process.
  • The UWSA is committed to doing its part in ending all forms of discrimination, including Anti-Black and Indigenous racism. When accusations of racism came up, the UWSA Board took leadership to respond to the issue. As we moved forward throughout the past few months, we recognized that there are multiple strategies to address racism and many students put forward their thinking.  This critical discussion deserves more platforms so that we, at the UWSA, can do better.  We learned that doing harm to others does not address racism – holding people accountable through relationship is how we can all learn and change.
  • We want to recognize the UWSA Board and Executive who respected the process to try and address this situation and find solutions. We would like to thank former Executives and board members who continue to participate in the process to make the UWSA a stronger organization.
  • The UWSA Board is committed to moving forward and will be reviewing the final report from the consultant before the end of October. We will be preparing a plan of action before the end of the year that will be shared with the full student body.
  • We have been reminded through these many difficult situations that relationships matter and when we work at having honest and respectful relationships we can get through any issue together.

In order to move forward, the UWSA Board agreed to invite the 2020-21 Vice-President Student Affairs, Melanie William, back to her position for the remainder of her elected term. The UWSA Board has established a Code of Conduct and is committed to creating a safe working and learning environment at the UWSA. In the spirit of reconciliation, the board and executives, including resigned members, have agreed to come together in a sharing circle to learn from our collective experience.

Yours in Solidarity,

University of Winnipeg Students’ Association’s Board of Directors and Staff, 2020-21

University of Winnipeg
University of Winnipeg
University of Winnipeg