DMCI student offered two prestigious scholarshipsJune 7, 2022
A Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute student is graduating on a high note after winning two major academic awards based on her STEM-based research project in AP Capstone, and her leadership in bringing Indigenous perspectives to the community.
Grade 12 student Kiana Mercredi was one of just five students nationwide to be honoured with an Ingenium STEAM Horizon Award, which consists of a $25,000 scholarship.
The awards, which are presented by Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, are given to youth who promote positive changes in their communities through science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).
Kiana is the first Manitoban student to win the award in five years.
“I was definitely humbled; I didn’t see myself winning. Looking at the past winners, they were very prestigious and accomplished, so I was surprised to be recognized with everyone else,” Kiana said. “The winners for Ingenium this year were all women so that was interesting to see.”
Kiana won the Ingenium Award based on an academic research project that focused on a comprehensive soils assessment in Winnipeg’s West End and lead contamination sources. The project, which was completed as part of Kiana’s work in the Advanced Placement Capstone program, included a 5,000 word academic paper and a presentation with oral defense.
“In AP Capstone we do university level writing. In Grade 11 we practise researching, making academic papers and presenting,” Kiana said. “This year in Grade 12, we got to do our own research and we got to pick what topic we wanted to look at.”
The AP Capstone program begins with AP Seminar, where students learn academic writing and research, similar to what might be expected from a first-year university student. Upon completion of AP Seminar, students then take AP Research where they identify perceived gaps in various fields of study and design their own research methods to investigate these gaps. DMCI is currently one of only two schools in Manitoba to offer AP Capstone.
Kiana’s recruited advisors for her project including a local historian, MLA Malaya Marcelino, and aprofessor at the University of Manitoba. Kiana gathered soil samples with a Dutch auger, conducted pre-lab preparation of the samples and tested pH levels, just to name a few of the aspects of her project. Kiana’s research will contribute to provincial knowledge about soils in Winnipeg.
“I got to work with a soils scientist at the U of M, Dr. Francis Zvomuya, as my advisor,” Kiana said. “He was really helpful; he gave me an explanation of soil testing and how and why it had to be done in a certain way.”
Kiana was presented with her Ingenium Award in a virtual ceremony that took place in May; the online presentation was made by federal Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez.
“It was amazing to be recognized with the other winners,” Kiana said. “We also got to meet past winners and they told us about what they are doing now. It was really inspiring to see what could be possible in my future.”
Kiana aspires to having a career in medicine.
“I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to go into medicine in the future and that led me into science,” Kiana said.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to go into medicine was the social interaction and helping other people. I also just find it really interesting to learn about it—learning and school go hand-in-hand with medicine.”
Indigenous Leader of Tomorrow
In addition the Ingenium award, Kiana was offered the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Leader of Tomorrow Award, which consists of a $16,000 scholarship.
Along with being an honour roll student at DMCI, Kiana has been heavily involved in bringing Indigenous perspectives throughout the learning environment. Kiana’s cultural projects included: contributing to a multifaith prayer room at DMCI; leading a moccasin making workshop for educators at Manitoba Teachers’ Society professional development day with the Indigenous Circle of Educators of Manitoba; and bringing Indigenous perspectives to her school’s virtual Remembrance Day ceremony.
Kiana is the granddaughter of well-known Cree and Métis poet Duncan Mercredi, who is currently Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate of 2022.
“Growing up, I learned a lot of my Indigenous teachings from my grandpa,” Kiana said. “He’s also a storyteller, so that contributed to me wanting to share my culture…I feel like sharing it would make other Indigenous students more comfortable with embracing their culture.”
Looking to the future, Kiana will begin her post-secondary studies in the fall at the University of British Columbia, where she will continue her path to a career in medicine.
“Most of my high school career was online, but I was really happy to come back this year and build those connections at DMCI,” Kiana said.