The PROFile

Shauna Mackinnon

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Assistant professor, urban and inner city studies


A self-described “activist academic,” Shauna MacKinnon’s career reflects her personal core belief: “Everybody should have access to the same opportunities.”

MacKinnon worked for 20 years as a community-committed social researcher on issues such as urban poverty, community advocacy and social justice when she joined the Urban and Inner City Studies Department (UICS) at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) in 2013. 

She was the director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba (CCPA) for eight years and with the CCPA’s portfolio of over $4.5 million in funding granted for community projects, MacKinnon also took part in a major study of poverty in Manitoba called “The View from Here.”

Asked about what her greatest achievement is, MacKinnon says, “It’s not about personal achievement. It’s more looking at what I have contributed.”

MacKinnon also taught at the University of Manitoba (U of M) social work program in Thompson and at the main campus. She worked with the U of M engineering ACCESS program as a student counsellor. 

Now, besides her UICS post, she is co-investigator for the Manitoba Research Alliance on a seven-year research project, “Solutions to Aboriginal and Inner-City Poverty,” funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Not to mention MacKinnon published her first book a month ago, Decolonizing Employment: Aboriginal Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market

Because of her lengthy list of achievements, it’s hard to believe MacKinnon started university when she was 28. She and three siblings were raised by a single mother who only had a Grade 9 education. 

“I am the only person in my family to have attended university,” MacKinnon says. 

Being a person keenly aware of social issues, MacKinnon is still optimistic about the current state of the world. 

“Well, I hoped it was going to change after the crash in 2008, and we’ve seen more austerity rather than less, but I always remain hopeful. You have to be,” she says.


AGE: 54

AREA OF RESEARCH: Social research with a focus on public policy, poverty and inequality.

LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: “Probably C+. Doing too many things.”

NUMBER OF PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES PUBLISHED: Seven articles in academic journals and six chapters in academic books.

FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF: “It’s what I retain from my lessons I learn. You know? It’s actually from my mother, even though she wasn’t an activist, trying to raise her kids. I think that’s what drives me.” 

WHAT’S YOUR SUPERPOWER: “Determination and also not giving up.”

FAVOURITE SONG: Indigo Girls’ ‘Hammer and a Nail’. “It inspires me. It’s kind of getting off your butt and (doing) things.”

STUDENT PET PEEVE: “I don’t like to see students who don’t come to class.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 19, 2015)

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