On Saturday, November 20th, 400 guests gathered at the RBC Convention Centre to celebrate this year’s Doctors Manitoba award recipients and the dedication and commitment of all Manitoba physicians. With strict COVID-19 protocols in place and vaccination requirements, guests were able to connect with colleagues in a social setting for the first time in nearly two years.

Once again, Emcee Dr. Michael Boroditsky kept our guests entertained while blessings were given by Pastor Kyle Penner, who has worked hard to advocate for vaccines, in support of the work that doctors are doing to help address vaccine hesitancy. Our President-Elect, Dr. Candace Bradshaw spoke to the audience about the difficulties our members have faced in these two years of the pandemic and recognized the bravery of Dr. Ken Hahlweg, for his heroic act of saving the life of a colleague in late October. CMA President, Dr. Katharine Smart, flew down from Yukon to attend and offered words of support and congratulations. President Dr. Kristjan Thompson and Doctors Manitoba CEO Theresa Oswald both gave inspiring addresses that left guests feeling optimistic about the future. We celebrated last year’s award recipients who were not able to have an in-person event but had been recognized in our 2020 Physicians for Physicians virtual event.

Most importantly, we honoured our 2021 award recipients, a group of extraordinary specialists and family physicians focused on delivering exceptional care to Manitobans. 

In this pandemic year, we are celebrating doctors who have helped protect us from COVID-19, and others who have continued to care for their patients despite the disruptions and uncertainty the pandemic has caused,” said Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba. The Doctors Manitoba annual awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of physicians from around our province.” 

This year’s honourees include the following group of courageous and committed individuals dedicated to advancing the medical profession and improving care for Manitobans. Watch a video featuring all the award recipients here.

Distinguished Service Award 

Dr. Murray Kesselman, a pediatric specialist and associate professor, is recognized for his years of distinguished service and his dedication to the critically ill children of Manitoba and Nunavut. Dr. Kesselman has served in leadership roles for the Pediatric ICU, Pediatric Special Care Unit, Pediatric Sedation Service and Pediatric Transport Team as well as the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health. Clinically, he has worked as a Pediatric Intensivist, a Pediatric Emergency Physician at Children’s Hospital and as a visiting pediatrician in Nunavut. 

He has shared his considerable experience and wisdom with hundreds of undergraduate and postgraduate medical trainees. Dr. Kesselman has performed international volunteer work for Operation Smile, Health Volunteers Overseas and MedGlobal. While his overseas medical volunteering has been disrupted by the pandemic, he has continued virtual sessions with a group of pediatric intensivist trainees in Cambodia. 

Dr. Kesselman has been an innovator, master clinician, and dedicated member of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health.Watch Dr. Kesselman’s award video here.

Medal of Excellence

The Cadham Laboratory leadership team is recognized for spearheading COVID-19 specimen processing during the pandemic, developing innovative solutions to worldwide shortages in lab supplies and creative changes to speed up turnaround times. The team has been an instrument part of the pandemic response in Manitoba, but also in advancing the science surrounding COVID-19 testing and advising provincial and federal governments in helping develop policies and practices for testing. The leadership team includes:

Dr. Paul van Caeseele, Medical Director. A specialist in medical microbiology, he has served as medical director since 2000, and also participates in travel medicine clinics and inpatient consulting on pediatric infectious diseases.

Dr. Jared Bullard, Associate Medical Director. He also serves as section head for pediatric infections diseases and has joined several Doctors Manitoba public town halls.

Dr. Kerry Dust (PhD), Scientist. As a virologist, she is responsible for the development of viral diagnostic tests at Cadham Provincial Lab. It is rare for a Doctors Manitoba to recognize someone who is not a physician, but Dr. Dust is a vital part of this team and has contributed her scientific expertise in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. Watch the Cadham Lab Team award video here.

Medal of Excellence 

Dr. Demitre Serletis is a skilled epilepsy and pediatric neurosurgeon and a highly effective advocate and leader. He has led the development work for comprehensive epilepsy services and the opening of the first pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit in Manitoba. In his capacity as Director of Epilepsy Surgery, Dr. Serletis led the formation of a collaborative multidisciplinary team and the recruitment of numerous pediatric and adult epilepsy neurologists to the province. Because of his leadership, Manitoba now offers advanced epilepsy surgery including hemispherectomy procedures for catastrophic pediatric epilepsy.

As an accomplished PhD scientist specializing in neuroengineering, he also served as an Associate Professor with the University of Manitoba, and as a Researcher at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, where he established and directed the Manitoba Neurosurgery Laboratory. The inspirational impact of his leadership and surgical innovation is profound, and he has made a tremendous difference in the medical and surgical care of pediatric and adult patients with epilepsy in our Province. Watch Dr. Serletis’ award video here.

Resident of the Year 

Dr. Heather Watson is a strong advocate for resident wellness, but she was singled out as Resident of the Year for her commitment to improving health and access for marginalized women. In fact, she created her own fellowship focused on psychosocial obstetrics and gynecology. Through this work, she collaborates with a multi-disciplinary team to develop protocols for the department to ensure vulnerable women are receiving standardized and evidence-based care.

She has leveraged her expertise to promote physician well-being during the pandemic, organizing resident wellness activities during academic half days and developing a wellness page on the weekly department COVID newsletter she spearheaded. She has also provided the residency cohort with trauma-informed teaching sessions to help residents better care for this population. Watch Dr. Watson’s award video here.

Medal of Excellence

Dr. Chris and Dr. Mairi Burnett are pillars in the rural medical community. After meeting in medical school in Scotland and getting married, they spent time in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Albania providing needed medical care, before settling in rural Manitoba in 1997.

Today, they are based in Niverville where they have built a holistic medicine practice. They have made an immeasurable impact on the community, where they not only fill a needed medical role, but also support community projects. They have both been involved in undergraduate teaching, and students are always warmly welcomed and shown tremendous personal hospitality.

Together they have been administrators, educators, pioneers and, above all, truly excellent family doctors. Watch Dr. Mairi and Dr. Chris Burnett’s award video here.

Dr. Jack Armstrong Humanitarian Award 

Dr. Maryanne Crockett is a pediatric infectious diseases specialist and associate professor. She is an outstanding clinical and research leader who has nurtured transcontinental healthcare initiatives for children. Early on in her medical career, she supported humanitarian responses around the world, including in Albania, Kosovo and Mozambique.

Dr. Crockett is currently the Director of Research and Knowledge Translation at the Institute for Global Public Health at the University of Manitoba. Her work has led to impactful contributions to the healthcare of children. Her more recent work has built important linkages in India and Pakistan. Locally, she remains active in undergraduate and postgraduate education and mentoring pediatric infectious diseases medical learners. She is an outstanding clinical and research leader and a visionary in pediatric global health. Watch Dr. Crockett’s award video here.

Medal of Excellence 

Dr. Kerrie Wyant is a family physician who works with vulnerable populations at the Aikins Street Community Health Centre. She brings her expertise in trauma-informed care to her medical practice and she is a champion of team-based care. She works to improve the Health Centre’s services, constantly advocating for the site and its patients. She built a team with a full scope of professionals including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and dieticians. Her constant presence over 20 years has been instrumental in building relationships with patients who have been affected by intergenerational trauma and systemic racism.

Dr. Wyant has contributed to the COVID-19 response, particularly for for vulnerable patients and inner-city residents. She has served as a lead with the downtown assessment and testing downtown. Watch Dr. Wyant’s award video here.

Physician of the Year 

Dr. Brent Roussin was nominated and selected by his peers, recognizing his truly exceptional contribution to the medical community and to the people of Manitoba. He has been the most regular, public face of the profession during the pandemic as he leads the fight against COVID-19. All physicians are trained to weigh risks and benefit with patients at an individual level, and Dr. Roussin has had to do this for our province’s whole population for nearly two years now. 

As Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, Dr. Roussin’s calm demeanour and clear, consistent answers have guided our province through this COVID-19 journey. His educational background in family medicine, public health, and law are valuable assets for this role. Physicians have appreciated Dr. Roussin participation in several Doctors Manitoba town halls to provide additional information for physicians, as well as his efforts to seek out physicians’ feedback about the pandemic situation. Watch Dr. Roussin’s award video here.

The Doctors Manitoba awards are the highest honour bestowed upon physicians in the province. Our call for nominations for the 2022 awards is open until December 14, 2021. Nominations are reviewed by a committee of physicians, which selects the award recipients.