Campus Life

Best of the best: Our selections for the most impactful stories of 2021

After what was termed an unprecedented 2020, the thought was 2021 would offer a return to normal. It didn't take long before we realized that normal just might not exist anymore. Regardless, we adapted, perservered and once again thrived. Our students shone as beacons of the future; our researchers continued to push boundaries and tackle some of the world's most pressing issues; our staff came together to deliver on the University's mission; and our supporters, donors and community members invested their time, talents and money. Here, we take a look back at some of the most impactful stories of 2021. Presented in no particular order, we found these stories illuminating, probing, fun, heartwarming and engaging. Maybe you'll find one of your favourites, or continue to browse through UNews and seek out more.

Here we go with the Best of the Best 2021.

Vaccinated students have opportunity to win fall tuition through It’s Worth a Shot! contest

The biggest story of 2021 was, of course, COVID-19 and its lingering effect on the post-secondary sector. So, when uLethbridge became the first in Canada to incentivize the drive to get our students vaccinated for the fall return to campus, the story exploded. It was a bold move, and something only an institution born of such brash ideas would attempt — and it worked. Not only did our students take up the call, soon our faculty and staff were included and then institutions from across the country began to follow suit. The contest helped to pave the way to a fully vaccinated campus and a safe and healthy fall semester.

U of L alum creates animated movie as a tribute to Fort McMurray

Our alumni, numbering more than 47,000, are making contributions throughout the world on a daily basis. Michael Mankowski (BMgt ’10) used his talents as an owner and operator of a video production company in Fort McMurray to create a 30-minute animated movie that looks at the evacuation of his hometown due to the 2016 wildfire. Told from the perspective of woodland creatures, it features an all-star celebrity voice cast and serves as a conversation starter for community, hope and mental health.

Goals achieved! Shine: The Campaign for the University of Lethbridge concludes by recognizing donors

The University's largest fundraising and engagement campaign came to a close in 2021 and it proved to be wildly successful, surpassing all its goals. In all, the University raised more than $103 million through the support of 11,000 unique donors, 6,500 of which were new donors to the U of L. Equally as important, the campaign connected with and engaged more than 20,000 alumni and set the stage for an even brighter future.

Constance Day Chief leads the way in educating educators about the impacts of residential schools

Recent Master of Nursing graduate Constance Day Chief (BN ’17, MN ’21) is using her background to help shape nursing education for the next generation of learners. Day Chief, the daughter of a residential school survivor, experienced stereotypes being perpetuated in the curriculum, leading to negative attitudes towards Indigenous people. She set out to change those attitudes and created a workshop for faculty and instructors who were incorporating residential school lessons into a new curriculum model. She sought to help them understand the material they would be teaching and translate that knowledge in the classroom.

Research group patenting urinary analysis to diagnose concussion and enhance recovery protocols

Anyone who follows sports knows how prevalent concussion problems have become in the games they love to watch, all the way down to the minor level. With big money at play and the health and safety of athletes in mind, an interdisciplinary research group is piloting new technology to first diagnose concussions with a quick, non-invasive urine analysis test, and then enhance recovery protocols. This forward-thinking research could have a major impact on the games we watch and play.

University of Lethbridge unveils Mootookakio’ssin website, creates bridge to historical belongings

This story resonated far beyond campus and earned nationwide media attention. Three years in the making, it was exciting to finally unveil the Mootookakio’ssin website, which represented the culmination of an ambitious and challenging research project that brought together uLethbridge and United Kingdom (UK) researchers, three British museums, as well as graduate and undergraduate students, all led by Blackfoot advisors and Elders. The result is a stunning, engaging and interactive website that is now a part of the Blackfoot Digital Library. It's definitely wirth checking out.

RDAR funding award supporting U of L research into health of queen bees and their colonies

Many of our research stories allow us to learn something about our researchers and their subject matter. This was one of those stories that everybody seemed to have an interest in because bees are such fascinating creatures. In addition to this story, there were two other Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) funded announcements we made. One addressed issues with potato blackleg in area fields and the other supported research as it pertains to the beef industry. All three highlight the University's growing presence on the agricultural scene.

2021 Truth & Reconciliation T-shirt design unveiled

Our students create change in all they do and the work of Chataya Holy Singer is one shining example. An outstanding Blackfoot artist majoring in the University’s art studio program, Holy Singer designed the t-shirts created to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Her design features First Nation, Métis and Inuit symbolism and can be interpreted in various ways with each symbol conveying its own message. The T-shirts quickly sold out, thereby spreading the message of reconciliation throughout the community in a unique and impactful way.

U of L professor Dr. Jennifer Mather served as the scientific adviser on Oscar-winning documentary

It's not often we get to talk about the Oscars but thanks to the incomparable Dr. Jennifer Mather and her role as scientific advisor on an Oscar-winning documentary project, we got to have some fun with this story. The film, My Octopus Teacher, tells the story of a year Craig Foster, a South African filmmaker, spent with a wild octopus in the Great African Seaforest. Mather, one of the world's leading researchers in this area, was only too glad to lend her expertise.

Dhillon School of Business first business school in Canada to require Indigenous course as part of core degree

An important and groundbreaking announcement out of the Dhillon School of Business certainly qualifies as impactful and made this story an easy one to add to our list. As Professor Don McIntyre says, "Business students used to be able to operate without knowledge of Indigenous history or governance, but this has changed." That the Dhillon School of Business recognized this and made study in this area a core competency speaks to the University's historical respect of Indigenous business perspectives.