RRC grad awarded inaugural Disability Studies scholarship from University of Winnipeg

A Red River College grad who’s now completing a joint honours degree at the University of Winnipeg is the inaugural winner of that institution’s Disability Studies scholarship.

Evan Wicklund, who completed RRC’s Disability and Community Support program in 2013, is now in his final year of study in UWinnipeg’s Disability Studies program. He’ll be the first student to complete the program with an honour’s degree.

Having explored several sub-sectors of the disability field over the years, Wicklund believes the critical engagement made possible by the joint program is key to understanding alternatives to disability as a bio-medical phenomenon.

“If we contextualize ‘disability’ through rights, social constructionist, or intersectional frameworks, we will be afforded the opportunity to think about disability in new and imaginative ways,” he told UWinnipeg.

“As someone engaged with community organizations as well as the academy, I advocate for disability studies because it acknowledges the value of critical thinking and reflexivity, while maintaining the fundamental values of diversity and human rights.”

Wicklund presented his work at the International Initiative on Disability Leadership Conference in Vancouver in 2015, and has a paper accepted at this spring’s annual meeting of the Canadian Disability Studies Association.

He also works as a special projects officer for the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies, having been hired there after completing his work practicum.

UWinnipeg’s new award was established to recognize students who demonstrate academic excellence and community involvement. The Disability Studies program was established in partnership with RRC in 2010, prior to which there was no way to proceed from RRC’s diploma program to UWinnipeg’s degree.

— Naniece Ibrahim, University of Winnipeg