Technician, Curator, Anthropology Advocate
Valerie McKinley embodies the qualities of academic excellence, social responsibility, intellectual curiosity and community engagement in a manner that demonstrates that humanity, passion, and compassion are not a cloak to be put on casually when it is comfortable.
Countless students’ lives have been touched by McKinley’s natural ability to care for the entire being. The University of Winnipeg’s anthropology labs are, more than ever, a space for learning and mentoring.
She has opened the collections to students of multiple disciplines and introduced the concept of open labs where students can come together to peer-mentor and quench their intellectual thirst. The restoration of provenance to the collections has made them a more accessible and valuable University legacy.
Humanism pervades McKinley’s work, and is seen in her active involvement in taking the University into the community. As an advocate, McKinley has a quiet passion that goes beyond the academic.
She has visited seniors’ complexes, schools, and participated in community programs such as Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre’s Let’s Speak Cree/Anishinaabemowin, the University’s Science Rendezvous, and the Skywalk Lecture Series. She has also facilitated workshops for community groups such as Drag the Red.
Consistent with the spirit of indigenization at UWinnipeg, McKinley’s work has included facilitating a repatriation of heritage materials back to an Indigenous community — an important step in reconciliation.
McKinley’s contributions to the University are most visible in the glass display cases on the fourth floor of Centennial Hall, where she has installed dozens of exhibits. They are an ever-challenging invitation to pause, consider, and reconsider.
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