First Inuk surgeon, National Gallery curator, CEO honoured with Indspire awards

Donna May Kimmaliardjuk was about to perform heart surgery when she received a phone call informing her she was among 13 Indspire Award winners. 

On the other end of the line was Roberta Jamieson, the president of Indspire, and Kimmaliardjuk, 28, said the conversation lifted her spirits.

"It was just this beautiful conversation," said Kimmaliardjuk. "I remember having my heart racing and goosebumps as she was talking to me. I just felt very, very honoured, very humbled … But it was short-lived, I had the phone call and then I was like, OK, back to work."

Kimmaliardjuk will receive a 2018 Indspire Award for being the first Inuk to become a heart surgeon. She is one of 13 recipients announced Tuesday and the winners feature a cross-section of Indigenous stars blazing trails through the arts, business, education, health and spirituality.