The PROFile

Wab Kinew, Associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs

In early 2012, Wab Kinew started at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) as a volunteer in the Ojibwe afterschool program at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre.

After eight months, he was approached by former university president, Lloyd Axworthy, to establish a centre to work on indigenous inclusion. His task was to find ways to bring more indigenous people into the university community, into the business world and into professional roles.

Kinew is a busy man and you’ve probably seen or heard him on the CBC. He previously produced a documentary series, 8th Fire, guest-hosted on the radio program and defended Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda as part of Canada Reads 2014.

He’s also got a new book on shelves this month, The Reason You Walk.

He is making his impact at the U of W and around Manitoba through his many projects.

Kinew has spent about a year and a half in his current role at the U of W, working with staff and students to make sure indigenous culture is celebrated and always shown in a proper way on campus.

He says he is working a few hours per day at translating the Ojibwe language for uses in technology – sort of like Google translate but with indigenous languages.

Kinew says he can’t spend more than a few hours a day on it, because he is needed in other places.

Right now, his other tasks include implementing the indigenous course requirement for next fall, organizing a speaker series with indigenous academics and working with the indigenous advisory circle to create a strategic plan for indigenous inclusion.

AGE: 33  

AREA OF RESEARCH:  Statistical machine translation of the Ojibwe language.


LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: F, probably a class I forgot to drop.

FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF:  Well, obviously my humility. (laughs)

WHAT’S YOUR SUPERPOWER: Being a Jack-of-all-trades.

Published in Volume 70, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 15, 2015)

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