U of Winnipeg: Jarita Greyeyes is California dreaming
CBC future-leader-under-40 finalist and UWinnipeg alumna Jarita Greyeyes is the current Acting Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs and Director of Community Learning and Engagement at The University of Winnipeg. However, she is heading to California’s Stanford University in September to pursue a PhD in Race, Inequality and Language in Education.
Beyond her work engaging children from the surrounding community through the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, Greyeyes has made a significant contribution to “Indigenization” at her alma mater since returning in 2015 — especially in creating a culture of recognizing and celebrating Indigenous success.
UWinnipeg is changing the appearance of campus spaces to reflect its commitment to welcoming Indigenous people, culture, and ways of knowing. Of note, Greyeyes is leading a project and working with artist Kenneth Lavallee and Synonym Art Consultation to change the face of UWinnipeg’s Helen Betty Osborne building, which will be wrapped in a Star Blanket-inspired mural.
“The Helen Betty Osborne building is home to some of UWinnipeg’s most impactful academic and community learning programs,” said Greyeyes. “By blanketing the building in this way, we are honouring all those who are working to make our community better through access to an education and deeper connections to culture and language.”
Since 2015, Greyeyes has been effective in welcoming and including people from a wide range of backgrounds, especially Indigenous people. For example, her efforts helped to increase participation in UWinnipeg’s community learning programs at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre and supported development of the first land-based Anishinaabemowin course, which saw students learn an Indigenous language on the land from both academics and traditional knowledge-keepers.
She also worked with Dr. Jaime Cidro to create UWinnipeg’s annual Spring Feast, an event to honour all who contribute to Indigenization at UWinnipeg.
Greyeyes was instrumental in expanding UWinnipeg’s presence at Pride Winnipeg, emphasizing the importance of Two-Spirit (2S) people, as well as establishing the popular annual Queer Cocktail Alumni event.
While living in Winnipeg, she found time to be an active volunteer — serving as co-chair of Ka Ni Kanichihk’s governing council; on the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Indigenous Advisory Circle; and on the board of the sākihiwē festival (formerly Aboriginal Music Week).
Greyeyes graduated from UWinnipeg with a BA in 2006, followed by an MA in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria. While a student, she served as chair of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Her colleagues at UWinnipeg wish her well in her future studies at Stanford, and know she will remain an ambassador for the University and the idea that everyone belongs.