After articling at an accounting firm, Maureen Moneta decided to broaden her horizons and let her passion for community guide her toward a career in the non-profit sector. In 2015, that mission brought Moneta to the University Hospital Foundation (UHF), where her unshakeable drive and talent for problem-solving contributed to the foundation’s significant growth and impact. Over the last five years, UHF distributed $75 million to the health system.
This year, Moneta was recognized by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta, which presented her with an Early Achievement Award.
It was a full-circle moment for Moneta, who grew up in rural Alberta, without immediate access to higher education. Now balancing life as an executive, wife to a first responder and mother of two young children, she grounds herself in her core values.
“It’s a privilege to be a leader,” says Moneta. “My connection to purpose keeps me motivated.”
A recognized Indigenous leader in Edmonton, Moneta is a volunteer on the Board of Governors with Rupertsland Institute, an affiliate of the Métis Nation of Alberta that supports Métis individuals in education, training and research. She also mentors upcoming CPA students, and has volunteered on the Audit Committee of the Edmonton Community Foundation. She was elected to the CPA Alberta board in 2020.
“I love our community,” says Moneta. “I’ve been so fortunate and strive to give back more than I’ve received.”
Kisha Supernant, Class 0f 2019
Using advanced equipment, teams led by Kisha Supernant have worked to find Indigenous burial grounds in Alberta and Saskatchewan, without needing to do massive excavations.
Finding these unmarked graves is a way of bringing closure. Supernant, whose father survived the Sixties Scoop, worked to identify burial grounds near a former residential school in Saskatchewan, where the bodies of children were basically hidden away.
“At the residential schools, it is difficult. I am a mother, myself,” she says. “There is a lot of gravity to the work. You feel the weight of history. It is difficult. I find it to be emotionally very challenging. And, it can be triggering sometimes.”
While many of us think of exotic Mayan ruins or Egyptian pyramids when we think of archaeology, Supernant, a Métis educator and researcher who came to the U of A from Vancouver in 2010, works to uncover artifacts from Indigenous settlements throughout Western Canada. From uncovering fire pits to eating utensils, we learn more and more about the pre-colonial lives of the people who lived here.
And, by learning more about the past, we break the historical stereotypes that the Indigenous people were “primitive.” As Supernant says, we learn more about deep family ties, community bonds, organization and trade between people.
Understanding the history of the people is a major building block towards reconciliation.
“I want to do this work to matter to contemporary communities,” she says. “I want to do this work to support Indigenous rights.”
Supernant admits she is a “nerd.” Her daughter’s name is Leia, for the famed Star Wars princess and general. But, with the passion her mom shows in her work, Leia doesn’t have to look too far to find her hero.
Dr. Neeja Bakshi, Class of 2019
Dr. Neeja Bakshi grew up in a family that was science-minded yet spiritual — so she never thought of those two worlds as diametrically opposed.
“I come from an East Indian, Hindu family. My parents are very spiritual. My mother was a physician, my father was an engineer. We were exposed to home remedies if the illness wasn’t too severe — anything from meditation to things that my grandmother would make with turmeric. Things that didn’t taste very good, but you’d feel better the next day,” she says with a chuckle.
This heritage is part of what steered Bakshi to osteopathic medicine — a practice which is based on the belief that the body can heal itself and achieve balance — and to eventually open a medical clinic pairing Western and Eastern medicine.
The Pittsburgh native, a mother of twin girls, was working as a physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in late 2015 when she started having problems with back pain, weight gain, headaches and exhaustion.
Following in-depth conversations with her massage therapist and, eventually, a cofounder of the clinic, Brandon Jacobs, the idea for Park Integrative Health — a place where physicians and allied health practitioners could work under one roof — was born. The clinic opened its doors in Sherwood Park in 2017, and has served more than 4,000 patients so far.
“Colleagues would say, ‘Why are you going to do that?’” Bakshi says. “There’s a lot of assumptions, a lot of myths.”
Bakshi, who continues working at the Royal Alex, is hopeful that through education and awareness more people, the medical establishment included, will come around to a more holistic way of thinking.
“Health care is not just physical health. It’s emotional health, it’s physical health, it’s mental health and how all those factors actually contribute to the physical health of the patient.”