SHAD Lakehead is hosting 65 young innovators and entrepreneurs this July

July 4, 2017 – Thunder Bay, ON

Grade 11 student Yesenia Cheekinew of Surrey, BC, is an advocate for truth and reconciliation.

The First Nations student aims to become a civil rights lawyer and an ambassador in her community. She was selected to attend SHAD Lakehead through a partnership between SHAD and the Minerva Foundation’s Learning to Lead Program for grade 11 female students in BC.

While SHAD is now hosted at a record 13 universities from coast to coast, Cheekinew is participating at SHAD Lakehead in Thunder Bay alongside other student leaders and change makers.

“I have never been so grateful to be given an opportunity to be at this once in a lifetime program,” Cheekinew said.

Cheekinew is troubled by how she hears people talk about First Nations and aims to change that. She is a frequent speaker at elementary schools.

“For all the other First Nations students that strive to go to SHAD, know that anything is possible. We do not need to follow the stereotypes that say we cannot do great things. My success is our success,” she said.

Tristan Salomon de Friedberg comes to SHAD Lakehead from Labrador. The grade 10 student is passionate about dance and ballet and has encouraged other males there to join him.

“Living in a small mining town where hockey is king, I found that stepping out of the norm to pursue my dance passion was character building.”

Salomon de Friedberg has also created a new toy rope for his puppy that lasts longer and started a business with it.

He said coming from a small remote community with limited options and learning other ways to think outside the box makes this summer extra special.

“The opportunity to be in a program like SHAD with students from all over the country who are just as driven to make an impact makes me feel that I’ve won the lottery.”

At SHAD, which was founded in 1980 to help youth reach their potential, students in grades 10 to 12 are immersed in an award-winning, one month enrichment program focused on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The students interact with renowned university faculty and visionary corporate leaders.  In a unique element of the program, the students are challenged to come up with an original solution to a societal problem they learn about in the first week. It teaches them about entrepreneurship and innovation and leaves the students seeing how they can make an immediate impact.

Chloe Brooks of Fredericton is hoping to become the first in her family to attend post-secondary education and said SHAD will help her become a role model in her community.

“I never expected this chance to participate in such an amazing experience.  I am doing this not just for myself but for other First Nations youth,” Brooks said.  “I would like them to witness an average kid from their community make it as far as possible.”

Dr. Sultan Siddiqui is a Mechanical Engineering Professor and the Director of SHAD Lakehead. He has witnessed the growth of hundreds of young people who participated in the program.

“SHAD encourages young people to get outside of their comfort zone,” Dr. Siddiqui said. “These exceptional individuals are Canada’s future prime ministers, scientists, lawyers and other change makers.”

When the program ends on July 28, the students become part of an important network of close to 16,000 alumni including 32 Rhodes Scholars and leaders in many fields.

The president and CEO of SHAD, Tim Jackson, is ecstatic the program has now expanded to a record 13 host campuses across Canada. He said his number one goal is to make SHAD, as well as the bursaries which enable some students to attend, available and accessible to every deserving student across the country.

“I’ve seen the difference SHAD can make to help youth realize their potential. It is not only great for them as individuals; it’s great for the country as a whole,” Jackson said.

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Media: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, at (807) 343-8177, or

For more information or to set up an interview with a student in your area, please contact: Teddy Katz, Vice President, Media Relations | SHAD or call 647 505 8095


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. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities. Visit


SHAD produces leaders for Canada through its award-winning, life-changing, pan-Canadian enrichment platform for high school students. Every year, SHAD helps 800 young Canadians tap into their full potential through an innovative month-long program at one of 13 partner university campuses. There, students apply STEAM (science-tech-engineering-arts-math) disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges, forging insights and valuable relationships for life. Among its thriving global network of close to 16,000 SHAD Fellows and innovators are 32 Rhodes Scholars, 80 Loran Scholars, and 43 Schulich Leaders.  For more information, visit