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Kim Kotelo Memorial Award for Nurses honours passion to caring

December 3, 2021

A graduate of RRC Polytech’s nursing program, Kim Kotelo spent the first year of her career as an acute care nurse at Health Sciences Centre, working through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She passed away in April.

Kim Kotelo

The Kim Kotelo Memorial Award for Nurses is valued at $1,000 and will be presented annually to a student completing the third year of the Bachelor of Nursing program.

The award was established by Mark and Sharon Evans, who read about Kim’s story in the Winnipeg Free Press shortly after she died. The story painted a picture of young woman full of life, dedicated to serving her patients. When the pandemic struck, for instance, Kim would often spend her break time sitting with patients who weren’t allowed family visitors.

“We were so moved by the loss of someone who still had so much to give,” says Evans, who is CEO of Winnipeg-based financial technology company Conquest Planning.

No stranger to hospitals thanks to his own health struggles, he says he owes his life to the “miraculous people – the doctors and nurses who care for us day in and day out.”

Establishing the award is his way of giving back. Mark and Sharon will also be matching donations made to the award fund.

“You can’t change what happened, but you can make a difference. You can start something that hopefully inspires others to take positive action. We want to honour Kim’s memory and encourage people like her. Especially during this pandemic, we want to recognize the sacrifices they make to become nurses and keep the rest of us safe. We want them to know that we care, too.”

Those sacrifices are realities Kim knew all too well in her own education and career. Eleanor Kotelo, Kim’s mother, says her daughter worked long hours throughout the pandemic, often without any contact with her own family members for extended periods of time. “Yet she went in to work every day, giving hope to her patients and the best she had to offer as a nurse.”

Eleanor says her family is “humbled by the generosity of Mark and Sharon Evans, who never met Kim but felt compelled to honour her memory in this way. I do believe there are angels among us.”

According to Eleanor, nursing was Kim’s childhood dream.

“She wrote it in her journal at age 12: she wanted to be a paediatric nurse. Many years later, during her clinical rotation, she saw the life-changing impact of lung and respiratory medicine and changed her focus to that.”

Her instructors describe Kim as someone who embodied all the qualities that make someone an exemplary nurse: caring, compassion and drive. Kim also assisted on MAID (medical assistance in dying), which solidified her belief in advocating for people to be in control of their own health.

“Kim believed in helping others, serving those who were less fortunate, extending a hand to those in need. She had a huge heart,” says Eleanor. “In her younger years she volunteered at a senior home, a women’s shelter, and the Children’s Hospital. As a teenager, she was the kind of person who stood up for younger classmates who were being bullied. As a new nurse, she gifted shoes and a uniform for a nursing friend even though she didn’t have much extra money of her own. In winter Kim would buy gloves and hats and distributed to those who didn’t have any.”

What those who knew Kim best will miss, however, is her smile, her infectious laugh, and her bubbly personality.

“She could walk into a room and without demanding any attention and get it anyway – by being genuinely interested in and curious about the people she met or knew. She could put anyone right at ease. They felt like they knew her.”

Kim Kotelo

Kim was also a passionate traveler and explorer who preferred to go off the beaten track than follow a tour guide. She was a bargain hunter whose flair for style impressed friends and coworkers.

“And she was a spitfire. She listened to her patients and made sure the doctors treating them knew everything they needed to give them the best care.”

Eleanor remembers Kim’s ability to connect with patients through experiences they shared. Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 17, Kim went from being “angry and scared to educating herself and sharing her knowledge with others. One day while she was on duty, she was challenged by a diabetic patient. Kim rolled up her sleeve to reveal her diabetic tattoo, and said, ‘I live that life too.’”

She hopes the award will inspire and celebrate nursing students “who make patients feel special and loved, who listen to them and hear their needs, who act as advocates on their patients’ behalf, and who leave a positive impact on those around them.”


The recipient must have successfully completed a Senior Practicum in a surgery setting or respiratory medicine, demonstrate a caring and compassionate attitude with patients and colleagues, show a commitment to their education through attendance and participation, and have a strong work ethic.

Application forms will be available from the Nursing Repository and should be accompanied by one reference letter that attests to the applicant’s compassionate attitude with patients, as well as a short written statement from the applicant expressing why they should be selected for the award.

Applications will be accepted throughout the year, and the recipient will be selected annually in the fall.


Mark and Sharon Evans have generously committed to matching all donations to the Kim Kotelo Memorial Award for Nurses Fund. You can strengthen the impact of Kim’s legacy by donating in the following ways:

  • Online (please designate your gift in memory of Kim Kotelo)
  • Over the phone by calling 204-619-0139
  • By mail: 

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Winnipeg, MB R3H 0J9

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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