Lakehead University appoints first Chair on Truth and Reconciliation
September 16, 2016 – Thunder Bay, ON
Lakehead University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Brian Stevenson, has appointed Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux as the University’s Chair on Truth and Reconciliation. This historic appointment takes effect immediately.
Since July 2013, Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux has served as the University’s Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives.
In her new role as Chair, Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux will advocate for Truth and Reconciliation within the Lakehead University community, while serving as an ambassador for Truth and Reconciliation issues in Northwestern Ontario and Simcoe County, as well as at the provincial and national levels.
“This is an incredibly important time in history and this appointment is an important statement by Lakehead about its commitment to moving forward on the process of reconciliation in our region and country,” explained Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux, who was inducted as an “Honourary Witness” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015. “I am humbled and honoured to have been selected for this role.”
Lakehead’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Brian Stevenson, said the appointment is an exciting and timely one for Lakehead University. “The appointment of our first Chair on Truth and Reconciliation comes at the same time that Lakehead students from around the world are starting their undergraduate programs that incorporate our unique Indigenous Content Requirement.
“These efforts show that Lakehead University is leading the way when it comes to educating students about Aboriginal issues and Canada’s past, and we will continue to lead the way with advocacy and assistance from Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux,” added Dr. Stevenson.
The establishment of a Lakehead Chair on Truth and Reconciliationhas been designed to highlight and further the work guided by Lakehead University’s Strategic and Academic Plans, and to ensure that Lakehead responds appropriately and effectively to the recommendations outlined in the Report on Truth and Reconciliation.
Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux will be responsible for leading the development of a plan that articulates Lakehead University’s response to the Report on Truth and Reconciliation.
She will work to support, and lead as required, Lakehead University’s focus on Aboriginal/Indigenous priorities, and advise the President and other Executive Team members on provincial and national issues in regards to Indigenous peoples.
For more information about Lakehead’s Indigenous Content Requirement, visit the University’s website (www.lakeheadu.ca).
Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Smith, Associate Professor in Natural Resources Management, will serve as Interim Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives, effective immediately.
Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux began at Lakehead on July 1, 2013. Since then, she has served as the University’s first Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives.
Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux has held the Nexen Chair in Aboriginal Leadership at the Banff Centre in Alberta, was an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Work and in Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, and an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University. She continues to hold a Status Only Assistant Professorship at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work.
She is a former Advisory Member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, a Board Member for Healthy Minds Canada and for the newly formed Teach for Canada Non-Profit. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux is a member of the Governing Circle of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and she was inducted as an “Honourary Witness” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux is interested in environmental and humanitarian causes and is actively engaged in a variety of initiatives across Canada. Her teaching and academic writing is directed towards understanding Historic and Intergenerational Trauma within the Aboriginal community and she is a member of the Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation in Lake Simcoe.
Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Smith
Dr. Smith joined Lakehead in 2000. Her research examines the social impacts of natural resource management.
She was hired by the Faculty of Natural Resources Management to develop curriculum on Indigenous people’s roles in natural resource stewardship. Her course, Aboriginal Peoples and Natural Resources, has been a required course for NRM students for over a decade. She has also taught the course in the Faculty of Law.
Dr. Smith focuses on three elements of Indigenous involvement: protecting Indigenous values, protecting Aboriginal and treaty rights, and ensuring a fair share of economic benefits for Indigenous peoples from natural resource development.
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Lakehead University has about 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies.
Maclean’s 2016 University Rankings place Lakehead University second in Ontario and among Canada’s Top 10 undergraduate universities, and first among Ontario’s undergraduate universities for Total Research Dollars, Social Sciences & Humanities Grants, and Library Expenses. In 2015, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities.