Lakehead University - 50th Anniversary
Aboriginal Initiatives MilestonesAlso see our Milestones TimelineAboriginal Initiatives MilestonesLakehead University is proud of its involvement in the aboriginal community over the years. Here are some of the highlights.

The 1970s

  • 1974
    • Native Teacher Education Program (NTEP) launched.
  • 1975
    • Harold Linklater, NTEP Director, and Dolores Wawia, first Aboriginal instructor, hired for NTEP.

The 1980s

  • 1984
    • Native Language Instructors Program (NLIP) began.
  • 1985
    • Lakehead University Native Student Association (LUNSA) formed. Norval Morriseau received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
  • 1986
    • Native Nurses Entry Program (NNEP) launched with Mae Katt as first coordinator.
  • 1987 - 1988
    • Native Support Services established (now referred to as Aboriginal Cultural and Support Services) with Beverly Sabourin as first coordinator.
    • Native Student Centre established with cultural, social and academic supports implemented.
    • Native Advisory Committee set up.
    • 1st pow wow held on campus to honour Aboriginal graduates. Pow wows became an annual event.
  • 1989 - 1990
    • Native Access Program launched.

The 1990s

  • 1990
    • John Kim Bell received Honorary Doctor of Music.
  • 1991 - 1992
    • Ontario Aboriginal Education and Training Strategy (AETS) funding began.
    • Native Advisory Committee evolved to Aboriginal Management Committee (AMC) with representation from Aboriginal organizations.
    • Richard Charles Lyons received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
  • 1992 - 1993
    • Department of Native Studies (now Indigenous Learning) emerged under leadership of Dennis McPherson.
    • Native Access Program for Engineering (NAPE) in place until 2002.
    • Native Canadian World Views course first offered.
    • Native Philosophy Project funded by The Rockefeller Foundation to 2000.
    • BA/BEd, Hon. BA Indigenous Learning established.
    • Aboriginal representation began on Lakehead University Board of Governors.
  • 1994
    • Biennial Aboriginal Peoples Conferences held in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000.
    • Nellie Cournoyea received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
  • 1996
    • Melvin Pervais received Honorary Doctor of Engineering.
  • 1997
    • Olive Dickason received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
  • 1998
    • Roberta L. Jamieson received Honorary Doctor of Letters.

The 2000s

  • 2000 - 2001
    • Aboriginal Innovations in Arts, Science and Technology resource handbook developed to highlight Aboriginal contributions in these fields.
    • Aboriginal Awareness Centre of Lakehead University Student Union created.
    • Douglas Cardinal received Honorary Doctor of Engineering.
    • Buffy Sainte-Marie received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
    • Faculty of Natural Resources Management (then Forestry & the Forest Environment) created faculty position to address Aboriginal issues and natural resources. Peggy Smith hired to fill position.
  • 2001 - 2002
    • Partnership protocol formalized with Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN).
  • 2002 - 2003
    • Department of Aboriginal Education formed.
    • Associate Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) position created (changed to Vice Provost in 2007-08). Four people have served in this position: Dr. Lauri Gilchrist (2004-2006), Beverly Sabourin, MA (2007-2012), Yolanda Wanakamik (Acting 2012-13), and Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (2013-present).
  • 2003
    • Aboriginal Management Council participated in Lakehead University strategic planning process. The Strategic Plan 2005-2010 adopted a vision that includes serving "Aboriginal and other diverse cultures". The subsequent Strategic Plan 2013-2018 expanded on Lakehead's commitment to Aboriginal students and communities.
    • Tom Jackson received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
  • 2004 - 2005
    • Cultural Protocol Policy approved by Aboriginal Management Council.
    • Whitefeather Forest Research Cooperative Agreement signed.
    • Elder retained for Native Nurses Entry Program (Isabelle Mercier first Elder to fill this position).
  • 2005 - 2006
    • Northern Ontario School of Medicine opened at Lakehead and Laurentian universities with an Aboriginal Affairs Unit and Advisory Committee.
    • Four Aboriginal faculty, alumni and leaders chosen for Lakehead University's 40th anniversary Northern Lights awards: Mae Katt, first graduate of BScN; Harold Linklater, developed NTEP; Richard Lyons, Aboriginal elder, first to provide prayers in Native language at convocation; and Dolores Wawia, first Elder-in-Residence and Assistant Professor.
    • Orillia Campus opened.
    • Sweat lodge erected on campus.
    • Elders Council and Program formalized by the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives.
    • Phil Fontaine received Doctor of Letters.
    • Dr. Ruby Farrell became first Aboriginal person to achieve Full Professor status at Lakehead University.
    • Judy Iseke appointed Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Research.
  • 2007 - 2008
    • HBEd Program (Aboriginal) launched.
    • Sandra Wolf, PhD, and Laura Buker, PhD, hired in Aboriginal Education Department.
    • Aboriginal Management Council appointed representative to the Board of Governors.
    • Aboriginal Academic Programming and Research Survey conducted.
    • Short-term Aboriginal Career Advisor intern position created for Aboriginal Initiatives in partnership with Career and Co-operative Education Services.
    • Indigenous Knowledge Cultural Seminar series initiated—Drew Hayden Taylor first guest speaker.
    • Promotional DVD "Follow Your Dreams" produced.
    • Partnership agreement signed with Oshki Pimache-O-Win Training & Education Institute.
    • Goyce Kakegamic received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
  • 2008 - 2009
    • First Fall Harvest held on campus, now an annual event.
    • Tomson Highway, Artist-in-Residence, community cabaret.
    • Aboriginal Initiatives Communications Strategy developed with Wawatay Native Communications Society to promote non-traditional career options.
    • Research and Innovation Week featured Aboriginal research, graduate students' poster display and the first Aboriginal Partnership Research Award, now an annual event.
    • Nanabijou Aboriginal Graduate Enhancement Program (NAGE) developed to encourage Aboriginal students to pursue graduate studies.
    • Renewed partnership with Seven Generations Education Institute to continue with the delivery of BA General.
    • Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer created to improve Aboriginal student recruitment and retention, visits to Orillia First Nation communities and area. Brendon Johnson filled the first position.
    • Aboriginal Alumni Chapter launched in conjunction with Alumni Relations.
  • 2009 - 2010
    • Inaugural Aboriginal Preview Day held at Lakehead targeting Aboriginal high school students in grades 9 through 12.
    • Aboriginal Stakeholder Roundtable hosted by the Orillia campus to meet local and regional stakeholders.
    • Gitchi Kendaasiwin 2010-2013, Aboriginal Initiatives magazine, developed and distributed across province to provide information to the general public and senior administration about Aboriginal initiatives related to teaching, research, and services. Magazine won National Orientation Directors Award for Outstanding General Brochure for Special Populations.
    • Tomson Highway received Honorary Doctor of Letters.

The 2010s

  • 2010 - 2011
    • Permanent position of Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (currently Aboriginal Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator) established to focus on Aboriginal student recruitment. Yolanda Wanakamik filled this position.
    • Orillia Aboriginal Liaison position created, staff person seconded from Thunder Bay campus and moved to Orillia. Primary focus to create an awareness of programming opportunities and student supports. April Jones filled this position.
    • Elders-in-Residence program implemented at the Orillia campus with visiting Elders delivering presentations to faculty and students.
    • President's initiative, Team Achieve, established to help children overcome barriers to postsecondary education.
    • Nisnawbe Aski Nation Symposium on Treaties 5 and 9 held at Lakehead University.
    • RBC partnership to host Aboriginal Discovery Day, Mentorship Program, Speaker Series and wrap up celebration.
    • Part-time Nanabijou Aboriginal Graduate Program Coordinator hired to support Aboriginal graduate students and promote graduate studies to undergraduate students. Joan Linklater first to fill this position.
    • Bruce Beardy hired as Native Language Instructor Program Coordinator.
    • Raymond Neckoway, PhD, hired in the School of Social Work.
    • Tony Belcourt received Honorary Doctor of Letters.
  • 2011 - 2012
    • Lakehead signed an MOU with the Metis Nation of Ontario.
    • Aboriginal Student Counsellor permanent position created (now Aboriginal Transitions Advisor). Carri-Ann Agawa first to fill this position.
    • Aboriginal Research Facilitator position established as a two-year contract co-supervised by the Office of Research & Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives). Filled by Annette Schroeter.
    • Aboriginal Initiatives engaged Dr. Cynthia Wesley Esquimaux as Aboriginal Scholar-in-Residence.
    • In partnership with the Metis Nation of Ontario, a panel and workshop on Metis Recognition and Rights held on the Thunder Bay campus.
    • In partnership with Ontario Native Women's Association, "Ayaminaawinan – Having A Voice Conference" held to increase Aboriginal participation in the election process.
    • Joint NAN and Lakehead visioning exercise held on campus.
    • Dr. Christopher Mushquash hired as Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology.
  • 2012 - 2013
    • Aboriginal Initiatives and Faculty of Sciences and Environmental Studies established a partnership with the University of Ottawa to create an Aboriginal Mentorship Program between upper year undergraduate students and Aboriginal high school students in science.
    • Cultural Protocol Policy revised and approved by Ogimaawin-Aboriginal Governance Council and Human Resources.
    • Recruitment and retention of Aboriginal faculty survey completed on behalf of the Ogimaawin Aboriginal Governance Council.
    • Aboriginal Initiatives recruitment brochure developed.
    • Native Nurses Entry Program celebrated 25th anniversary.
    • Faculty of Education hosted Saami/Mayan Language Delegation.
    • Karen Drake, LL.M, hired in the Faculty of Law.
    • Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux appointed as new Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives).
  • 2013 - 2014
    • Motion passed at Senate to implement the Academic Plan 2012-2017 commitment for an Indigenous content course requirement for all undergraduate students.
    • Full-time Aboriginal Transitions Advisor position created. Victoria Bolduc filled the position.
    • Coordinator of Graduate and External Relations position created and filled by Yolanda Wanakamik.
    • Aboriginal Initiatives hosted first Graduate Student Writing Retreat with Indigenous scholar Lee Maracle.
    • Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) appointed to Mexico/Canada Relation Building and Exchanges.
    • Author Joseph Boyden attended Research & Innovation Week and met with Aboriginal students on campus for a book signing.
    • Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) extended community outreach with Evergreen A United Neighborhood, the Regional Multicultural Youth Centre, and other organizations to develop student transition pathways.
    • Yolanda Twance, Aboriginal Cultural & Support Services Coordinator, elected as district representative of the Ontario Native Education Counselling Association.
  • 2014 - 2015
    • Dr. Allan Downey visited Lakehead as Scholar-in-Residence.
    • Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities Targeted Initiatives Fund two-year proposal approved and implemented: Aboriginal Mentorship Programs, Northwestern Coordinated Learning Access Network, and On Course Conference.
    • Maadaadizi 2014, Inaugural Citywide Aboriginal Student orientation, held as part of Northwestern Coordinated Learning Access Network (CLAN).
    • Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) appointed to Governing Council of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and acted as an Honorary Witness for the TRC.
    • Richard Wagamese received Honorary Doctor of Letters. Later visited campus to meet students.
    • In partnership with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, film Survivors Rowe screened; co-produced by Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives).
    • Yolanda Twance, Aboriginal Cultural & Support Services Coordinator, elected as district representative and Vice President of the Ontario Native Education Counselling Association. Also recieved the Councellor of the Year award 2015.
    • Dr. Christopher Mushquash, Associate Professor, appointed Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction.
Featured Sponsors
Blaze SponsorsA supporter who donated $25,000 or more to the 50th celebration.
Alumni Association of Lakehead University The Alumni Association of Lakehead University is committed to keeping our alumni informed, involved and invested in the alumni community. http://www.lakeheadualumni.ca
Cobalt SponsorsA supporter who donated $10,000 or more to the 50th celebration.