A photo of Danielle Nowasad carrying binoculars amid bushes and grass
Danielle Nowasad

Danielle (Dani) Nowosad, an integrative biology graduate student, has been awarded the University of Guelph’s Kishaadigeh “She Who Guards the Lodge” Award for her commitment to fostering community connection and inspiring other Indigenous learners.

Nowosad, who is Red River Métis, has been an active community advocate for many years but said this award was unexpected.

“I was taken totally by surprise when [biomedical sciences professor] Dr. Melissa Perreault contacted me to say she was nominating me for this award,” said Nowosad, who is currently transitioning from M.Sc. studies to a PhD. “I recently began a project with Melissa that aims to mitigate barriers that Indigenous undergraduate students face in the College of Biological Science and am so happy to be working with a fellow Métis who is working to Indigenize academia.”

The annual award, created to recognize community connection and mentorship, was created to honour Dr. Jaime Cidro, vice-president, research and innovation, at the University of Winnipeg and Canada Research Chair in Health and Culture, who previously served as an Indigenous student advisor at U of G.

Danielle Nowosad conducts research.

“Dr. Cidro’s work around developing Indigenous research protocols and strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion within the research ecosystem — besides all the incredible work she does in health research and in the greater community — is a major inspiration to all Indigenous women,” said Nowosad.

Dr. Mazyar Fallah, dean of the College of Biological Science, was thrilled to see a CBS student receive this recognition. “Dani’s commitment and efforts are making a difference, as this well-deserved award shows,” he said.

College members recently participated in a community drive led by Nowosad. Before the COVID-19 pandemic in winter 2020, she asked science teachers in Cambridge Bay on Nunavut’s Victoria Island whether local youth could use a donation of hygiene products.

After contacting companies in Canada, she received a donation of 100 menstrual cups, medical brooches and workbooks from Diva Cups.

Following a hiatus during the pandemic, she reopened the drive this spring when a new youth shelter opened.

“The outpouring of support from peers and colleagues within U of G, as well as the greater Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo community, was incredible,” she said. “In just one week, I received $675 in cash donations and 325 pounds of hygiene items. The donations were shipped via Air Canada cargo in five suitcases and three boxes.”

“Dani is an exceptionally engaged and compassionate student,” said Dr. Ryan Gregory, chair of the Department of Integrative Biology. “We’re very fortunate to have her in the department. This award is richly deserved.”

As a member of the newly formed Indigenous Belonging and Connections Committee in the Department of Integrative Biology, Nowosad hopes to update co-authorship policies for dissertations and publications involving Indigenous community members.