First graduates of Al and Bee Wagner Indigenous Student Transition Program receive BU degrees

A man in a convocation robe and cap hugs a woman, while another woman looks on
Enoch Ouskun receives a hug from Deidre Gregory, Co-ordinator of the Al and Bee Wagner Indigenous Student Transition Program, while Knowledge Keeper Barb Blind looks on.

Among more than 560 new graduates who received Brandon University (BU) degrees at the recent Convocation ceremonies, were two who share a special distinction.

Lauren Letexier and Enoch Ouskun were the first two graduates from BU’s Al and Bee Wagner Indigenous Student Transition Program. Introduced in 2020 to help Indigenous students make a successful transition to their post-secondary education at BU, the program began that fall, with Letexier and Ouskun being the first members of that initial cohort to complete their undergraduate degrees this spring. Letexier has graduated with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology, while Ouskun has earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), with a major in Business Accounting.

“Completing a university degree can be challenging and a huge accomplishment for anyone, and Indigenous students have the strength and wisdom to focus on their end goal,” said Deidre Gregory, Coordinator of the transition program.  “With the help from IPC, Knowledge Keepers, staff and other students, we support one another, and it was amazing to see Enoch and Lauren cross that stage to receive the reward for all their commitment and determination.”

Ouskun is Swampy Cree, originally from Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He has lived in Brandon since 1999, but found that he had trouble fitting in the school system, delaying the completion of his high school diploma. When he determined that he would need to continue his education to build the future he wanted, he was worried he would face more of the same frustration, but found a completely new experience at BU.

“The professors and faculty staff were all wonderful people and whenever I need help with anything, be it understanding a concept, getting office time to go over questions, or anything to do with deadlines,” he said. They were always helpful and understanding.”

Nevertheless, Ouskun said the grind was more than he expected, which is where the Al and Bee Wagner Indigenous Student Transition Program was there to lift him up.

“I would not have had the great start to my BU career without it,” he said. I felt lost many times during my first year, but when I went to talk to Deidre Gregory about my issues and uncertainties, she would either have the answer for me or she would go and find the answer for me. I cannot thank Deidre enough for helping me as much as she did during my first year.”

Letexier is Métis, from Fisher Branch, and is a member of the Interlake Manitoba Métis Federation. She is proud to be the second person from her father’s side of the family to receive a university degree.

“This program has been impactful in helping me to reach my goals in how Deidre was there for me every step of the way, whether it be words of encouragement or the weekly check-ins,” she said. “I always knew I had someone to talk to if I needed to when school got tough.”

Lauren Letexier moves the tassle from the right side of her cap to the left, signifying her official graduation.

Both students also found the support of their fellow students to be invaluable.

“Friends I met through this program and through living in dorms my first year at BU carried me through my four years at this university,” Letexier said.

Letexier will continue her studies at BU, as she pursues a Bachelor of Education (After Degree). Ouskun is joining MNP as an Articling Accountant and will begin work toward his Chartered Professional Accountant designation this summer, with the goal of completing the program in 2027.

“Friends I met through this program and through living in dorms my first year at BU carried me through my four years at this university.”

Lauren Letexier

Ouskun was also a member of the Co-operative Education Program at BU, something he says was invaluable in landing his position at MNP.

“(Co-op Co-ordinator) Cora Dupuis helped me with my cover letter, resume and tips for interviews,” Ouskun said. “I did not have a full understanding of the profession that I was going into, but Cora was so awesome and explained things that I never knew before, and that really gave me the reassurance that I needed. She helped me and gave me advice on where to apply and functions that I should attend. I followed her advice, and it has led me to my first career position as an Articling Accountant. Thank you so much, Cora!”

The Al and Bee Wagner Indigenous Student Transition Program was developed with the aid of a generous donation by BU alumna Daphne Wagner and her husband David Green, along with their children, Lita and Michael. It was named in honour of Wagner’s parents.

Applications for the next program intake are open until July 19. More information about the program can be found at


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