The Joyce Family Foundation makes $1 million donation to Lakehead’s Aboriginal Mentorship Program

August 2, 2017 – Thunder Bay, ON

The Joyce Family Foundation is donating $1 million to a unique program at Lakehead University that mentors Indigenous high school students from Northwestern Ontario.

Lakehead’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson said that thanks to this significant contribution, Lakehead’s Aboriginal Mentorship Program (AMP) will continue to remove barriers to access post-secondary education for young people, in perpetuity.

“The Joyce Family Foundation’s gift is more than a financial gift,” said Dr. Stevenson. “The Joyce family has made an investment in the future generations of Indigenous students by providing Lakehead University’s AMP program with the means to continue to make their university dreams possible.”

Dr. Stevenson also thanked the Foundation’s board, including Ron Joyce, Grant Joyce, Steven Joyce, the Hon. Edward Lumley, Rob MacIsaac, Aileen O’Rafferty, and Michele Allison-Thornley.

“AMP’s success depends on our ability to connect with high school students on an annual basis as they move through their studies,” said Lisa Harris, AMP Coordinator.

“This contribution allows us to focus on fulfilling our commitment to Indigenous youth,” she added.

When Lakehead started AMP in 2013 there were 40 Indigenous youth enrolled in the program. Last year (2016/2017), the program worked with over 2,750 youth from grade one to 12 through outreach programming both on and off the Thunder Bay campus; of these youth, 250 were high school students who worked exclusively with the AMP program. 

“That incredible growth in numbers really demonstrates the need for programs such as this,” Harris said.

Dr. Peggy Smith, Lakehead’s Interim Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives, thanked The Joyce Family Foundation for recognizing the value of AMP reaching out to Indigenous high school students.

“This is another significant piece in our efforts to improve Indigenous student enrolment at Lakehead University,” Dr. Smith said.

AMP allows high school students to visit the Lakehead Thunder Bay campus to compare healthy versus cancerous skin cells, tour the Paleo DNA and chemistry labs, learn about the human body using the School of Nursing and Northern Ontario School of Medicine manikins, do archaeological digs on campus, participate in outdoor scavenger hunts using GPS, and more.

“The Joyce Family Foundation recognizes Lakehead University as a leader in First Nation education attainment through its Aboriginal Mentorship Program, and we are happy to offer this support,” said The Joyce Family Foundation founder Ron Joyce.

“I believe that education can unleash great potential, and this program is doing just that,” he added.

The Joyce Family Foundation (formerly The Joyce Foundation) is a private, family foundation created by Canadian entrepreneur Ronald V. Joyce, who co-founded TDL Group Ltd. which licenses Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada and around the world. Through its strategic philanthropic work, The Joyce Family Foundation is dedicated to supporting the social, economic and emotional well-being of children and youth by empowering them to develop into healthy, confident, independent contributors to Canadian society. Visit


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Media: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, Lakehead University, at 807-343-8177 or


Maureen O'Neill, Foundation Administrator, The Joyce Family Foundation, at 905 336-6993, or


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