39-year-old Uzoma Asagwara made history on Wednesday when they* were sworn in as Deputy Premier and Health Minister of Manitoba Province.
They* (Asagwara) were sworn in after Wab Kinew officially became Manitoba’s 25th premier, and the first First Nations premier of a Canadian province, at colourful and tradition-filled swearing-in ceremony that Kinew said marked the dawn of a new day for the province.
Kinew took his oath of office, which was administered by Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville, while wearing a ceremonial First Nations headdress in a ceremony at The Leaf in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park.
After taking his oath, Kinew greeted the crowd in seven different Indigenous nations of Manitoba, and said Wednesday was the start of a new era.
“Today is a new day in our province. Today, a new era begins and today we get to work for you, the people of Manitoba,” he said.
“We’re committed to putting the people of Manitoba first, and we will devote every single day of the next four years to serving you and the future generations that will some day walk these lands.”
Kinew also introduced his new cabinet at the swearing-in ceremony Wednesday morning, which includes several returning MLAs as well as a few rookies.
Who is Uzoma Asagwara? Asagwara is a first-generation Canadian born to Nigerian parents. Their* father — Dr K.C. Prince Asagwara — is from Umuahia, Abia State.
The Asagwara family is full of remarkable people. Their* father is an educated man with a Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A. and B.A. He is also an author and holds several traditional chieftaincy titles.
His children all stand out in their various fields. The first, Chichi Adaugo Asagwara, holds several degrees, the twin daughters Ogechi Ugonma Asagwara and Chinwe Nnebuife Asagwara and the only son KC Prince Obinna Asagwara are also well educated.
Uzoma Asagwara was first elected in 2019, becoming the first non-binary and gender non-conforming MLA in Manitoba, and was the first of three Black MLAs elected in Manitoba’s history (along with Audrey Gordon in Southdale and Jamie Moses in St. Vital).
Prior to their* election, Asagwara worked as a full-time psychiatric nurse who specialized in mental health and addictions. They* also founded Queer People of Colour Winnipeg, a group that creates events for Queer and Trans identified Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.
They* also joined the NDP shadow cabinet as the health critic.
Speaking in an interview with The Punch in 2019 about their* Nigerian roots, Asagwara said: ‘I was born in Winnipeg. I’m a first-generation Canadian.
My parents are from Umuahia (in Abia State) and they immigrated into Canada in the late 1970s. So, a lot of my community involvement actually comes from my parents’ example as organisers.
They really instilled in all their children the importance of being involved in your community and in advocating for your community and that’s really where I think my passion for advocacy for community comes from.’