Facing Facts: Lakehead alumni creating face shields with 3D printers

photo of face shields

Kevin Carlson holds up a face shield made with his 3D printer.

April 17, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

A group of people in Thunder Bay is working together online to create face shields that could protect local health-care workers from COVID-19, created using 3D printers.

This group is comprised of individuals who went to school at Lakehead University and who work at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, as well as anyone else who owns a 3D printer and wants to help.

Photo of Alex Bilyk

Alex Bilyk is a PhD candidate in Natural Resources Management at Lakehead who runs the University’s Centre for the Application of Resource Information Systems.

Bilyk is using the 3D printer that Goldcorp donated to CARIS out of his home all day, every day and overnight, to create face shields for health care workers in the area including his wife, who is a nurse in the emergency room at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

He is making 18 to 20 face shields per day along with mask straps that take the pressure off the wearer’s ears.

“These are an emergency item of last resort,” Bilyk said. “It’s not a replacement for commercially graded PPE. These masks are in case we run out.”

He is working with Lakehead alumni Michael Poling (HBPE '93/MSc.'95), who is the Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and Kevin Carlson (BA Anthropology '98), a digital forensic analyst for the Ontario Provincial Police.

Bilyk has not met Poling or Carlson – who have known each other for 25 years – but he is working with them through covidtbay.ca, a Facebook group where you can seek advice on using a 3D printer to create PPE for those in Thunder Bay who need it.

Photo of Michael Poling

Poling said he is making face shields and mask clips, but he is also looking into respirators. They have created more than 150 masks but “we are just getting started,” Poling said.

“My friend Kevin just got his second printer, and mine is on its way, somewhere in the ether of the shipping company,” he said.

“When that happens, production is going to double. I am also trying to borrow any 3D printers that may be lying around so I can set them up in my woodshop.  I can fit at least five more printers in there if I can borrow them.”

Poling said he has known many local physicians and nurses for years – they are his colleagues and friends. 

“Additionally, many are students I have trained and become friends with in my 16 years at NOSM, so I want to help protect them in any way I can. Given the lack of PPE right now, my knowledge of medicine, and my skills as a maker, this seems the most effective way to do that,” he said.

He is currently making around 75 face shields per day using his 3D printer. Although he said they are not pretty, the shields will work if required.

“If I could slow down, I could make them look awesome – but that isn't the goal.”

Poling said times have changed from when he worked in a hospital during SARS in the early 2000s.

“We were nervous then, but we weren’t scared. This is different, but not because the disease is so bad. It’s different because we have this society of information at our fingertips and everyone believes they are experts because they Google something. 

“And that has made people ignore medical information and science because there is more misinformation online than actual information, and people believe it rather than trusting the scientists.”

Poling said even he has a difficult time figuring out what is true and not true when doing research on the internet. 

“It takes time and asking the right questions, which I am trained to do after 11 years of university and 26 years as a healthcare professional.  So, if I have a hard time, others will too.”

He said members of society shouldn’t be scared and suggested ways people can be helpful now.

“We should be determined, careful, thoughtful and caring,” Poling said. “Being scared makes people do silly things and ignore each other. We can’t afford to do that now.  Determined, careful, thoughtful and caring. That is how we will win this.”

Carlson said he had heard there was a need for PPE and this is something he could do while working from home.

Photo of Kevin Carlson

“My girlfriend used to say that I never printed anything useful – so I thought I'd prove her wrong,” he said.

He is currently making around 25 to 30 comprehensive and basic face shields per day, but he could soon ramp up production by getting a third 3D printer running.

The world hasn’t seen a virus like COVID-19 in recent history, Carlson said.

“Of course it’s scary – but fear can often be a good thing though, as it drives people to come together in times of crisis. I think we are seeing that happen now, all over the globe.”

The university also has an employee creating face shields for health care workers.

Mohammad Darzaid is in his fourth year in Mechanical Engineering at Lakehead and he has worked as the student assistant in the Chancellor Paterson Library’s Makerspace for the last two years.

He will be using the university’s two 3D printers to create 30-40 face shields per day in the CASES building.

In Lakehead’s Ingenuity business incubator space, also located in the CASES building, manager Alyson MacKay and Taylor Gynane, Development Officer, are printing 10 to 20 face shields per day.

The group is requesting donations to purchase needed supplies such as acetone sheets and plastic rolls of filament used in the 3D printer. You may donate using this link: https://tinyurl.com/so3hspy.

For more information, visit covidtbay.ca or email northernontarioppeforhcp@gmail.com.



– 30 –



Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8177 or mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.


Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.


State of emergency will benefit Ontario’s wildlife, Lakehead professor says

photo of a bunny

By Brandon Walker

A Lakehead University professor believes Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision to extend the state of emergency until May 12 will be beneficial for wildlife and the environment.

photo of Dr. Brian McLaren

Dr. Brian McLaren, associate professor in Natural Resources Management, said the month of May is a sensitive time for animals. “Birds are returning to their breeding territories, turtles and other wildlife are making their nests to lay eggs or raise their young in, and the final snowmelt is sending surges into our streams that launch the new season for the aquatic ecosystem.”

Dr. McLaren said there are several reasons the state of emergency will help animals.

“Having fewer cars out means fewer roadkill mortalities for the new parents and the dispersing juveniles,” he said. “Having fewer people out and their dogs and cats closer to home mean less disturbance to our forests, grasslands and waterways and less stress to the breeding populations.”

He believes animals that have adapted to living in cities will benefit the most. 

“In Northern Ontario, we host many of the migrating warblers that will find new sanctuaries in our urban areas and provincial parks,” Dr. McLaren said. “These include some threatened species like the Canada warbler, which bears our country's name around the world.

“The nesting success of all of those migrants from central and south America should be much higher this year, especially in urban areas and crowded southern Ontario provincial parks.”

This shutdown not only keeps cars and people at home, it also gives animals some much needed quiet time.

“Animals born last year are eager to disperse to find their own territories, their own mates. To do this in, shall I say privacy, is a nice change due to the restrictions on us,” he said.

Fish will also benefit, Dr. McLaren said.

“People fish with a vengeance and love their trophies. That is why at best we use slot restrictions, one fish above a certain length,” he said.

“These bigger fish are contributors to the future generation some 10 to 10,000 times what the smaller fish contribute. So, if we practice catch and release of the big ones, we're doing well. I hope we all will make this change if we go out this year to do some fishing.”

From an environmental perspective, Dr. McLaren said the world be much better off if companies allowed more employees to work from home.

“Please do your part now for society by staying home safe and put some thought into the future for the environment.”    

Congratulations Lakehead Leaders and Luminaries!

Each year, Lakehead University recognizes the outstanding contributions of our students through the Lakehead Leader Awards.

This year, we are proud to honour 28 students in the categories of Innovation, Academic Excellence, Citizenship & Community Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion, and Sustainability.

To read about this year's recipients, visit www.lakeheadu.ca/leader.

Research in Action: Studies reveal impacts of police surveillance technology

As a researcher studying the use and impacts of police body-worn cameras, Dr. Alana Saulnier is often asked if she’s for or against surveillance technology.

“I always say that I don’t know, and that it’s dependent on the situation and the stakeholder perspective you adopt,” says Saulnier, a criminology professor at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus. “As a researcher, I’m not going in with a bias – I’m there to see what the data can tell us.”

And as Saulnier is proving, the data has a lot to say.

Largely driven by the public push for surveillance technology in the US, body-worn cameras (BWCs) are being piloted and adopted by a growing number of police services across Canada, including Thunder Bay and Toronto. But without rigorous study of the benefit, there are unanswered questions about the cost, additional workload, and best practices for use.

Saulnier’s partnership with the Durham Regional Police Service is in fact the first major external evaluation of the impact of this surveillance technology on policing in Canada. Drawing on dozens of in-depth interviews, more than 300 public surveys, and information from over 30,000 calls for police service, she’s built a rich pool of data to explore.

“It’s a sensitive issue, but the officers were all very open and receptive to the research,” says Saulnier. “Our partnership meant we could really examine if there is evidence to support the intended reasons for using this tech.”

For example, her data showed there does not tend to be a difference in daily workload between officers using or not using a BWC; the exception being BWCs increasing the time taken to resolve traffic calls by roughly six minutes. And when camera footage was flagged and tracked as evidence for prosecutors, it provided significantly more pro-prosecution court resolutions – a procedural insight that could translate to real time and cost savings in the justice system.

During a R.I.D.E. check stop project, Saulnier and her student research assistants also found that people described police encounters as more positive when the cameras were used. One explanation, suggests Saulnier, is that the technology may act as a symbolic gesture to community members that police are attentive to public concerns linked to the uptake of BWCs.

Her interviews with victims of domestic and sexual violence provided further valuable perspective on the use of BWCs, audio vs. video recording, and disclosure and consent of surveillance – information that can help better support vulnerable survivors.

“Police surveillance should always be for the public,” says Saulnier, who will submit her final 140-page report to the Durham Regional Police Services Board in March 2020. “How can we make evidence-based decisions about the use of technologies like BWCs, as well as evidence-based policies when the tech is adopted, that make policing and surveillance for people? These are the critical questions I ask in my classes and in my research.”

Dr. Alana Saulnier is the Criminology Program Coordinator and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Lakehead University, Orillia. Her research on body-worn cameras in partnership with the Durham Regional Police Service was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Dr. Alana Saulnier

Lakehead University and NOSM collect PPE for frontline healthcare workers in Thunder Bay, throughout Northern Ontario, and Orillia

Phil Thompson, Manager Material Distribution and Jennifer Svane, Coordinator, Material Distribution,  with TBRHSC/St. Joseph's Care Group picked up donations from the CASES building.

photo Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans, Principal of Lakehead Orillia, and Rebecca Heffernan, Research & Strategic Initiatives Facilitator, accepted more than 4,000 pairs of gloves that went to the Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.


April 9, 2020 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

Representatives from Lakehead University and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) have collected hundreds of boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers in Thunder Bay, throughout Northern Ontario, and Orillia – to help alleviate a shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Lakehead University the collection began when researchers started asking Anne Klymenko, Director of the Office of Research Services, where they could drop-off essential PPE for the hospital. 

With the help of Office of Research Services volunteers, Klymenko coordinated the collection of PPE on-campus.

She was eventually connected with Phillip Thompson, Regional Manager, Distribution and Data Management, Procurement Department at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Northern Supply Chain, who work together to ensure essential PPE is distributed to hospitals and clinics where supplies are needed most.  

After hearing the need, Lakehead University’s Office of Research Services issued a call to action to all university and NOSM researchers and laboratories requesting essential PPE, a collection that was also started at Lakehead Orillia.

Klymenko said the response from the university community was overwhelming and heartwarming.

“We were able to collect over 820 N95 masks that are in extremely short supply right now and essential to the safety of frontline healthcare workers and clinicians,” she said.

“We also received more than 1,750 surgical, procedural masks and disposable face shields, 325 disposable gowns, and sanitizer.  All this was collected on short notice on March 27 and March 30.”

In addition to NOSM, donations were received from all over campus – including departments in the Faculty of Natural Resources Management, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, and the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

All items will go to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Care Group who work with the Northern Supply Chain to ensure these essential PPE get sent to those acute-care hospitals, long-term care homes, and healthcare providers experiencing urgent shortages of PPE.

“Supplies are vital to our Hospital's response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Stewart Kennedy, Incident Manager for Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre's COVID-19 response.

“We are very grateful to our partners at Lakehead University and NOSM for coming together and collecting donations. Their efforts will save lives and allow our health care professionals to focus on providing safe, quality care.”

Dr. Andrew Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, is challenging other businesses and organizations in Thunder Bay, Northern Ontario and Orillia to do what they can to help.

“Please look through your surplus PPE inventories to continue the momentum.  Donations big and small are critical to have available in our communities in the next few weeks,” Dr. Dean said.

Donations can be made to the Northern Ontario PPE for HCP campaign (#PPEforHCPs), an initiative led by NOSM students who were encouraged by the Ontario Medical Students Association (OMSA) and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) to take up the cause by approaching local businesses to see if they had anything to contribute.

“The #PPEforHCPs is rising to the challenge of sourcing personal protective equipment from over 28 communities and counting,” said Alannah MacLean, a second-year NOSM medical student in Thunder Bay. The objective is to divert existing PPE within a community to the institutions (i.e. hospitals and clinics) that currently need it most.

MacLean said Maranda Henry and Jane Luft have done an incredible job leading and organizing their volunteers.

The NOSM student campaign differs from campaigns in southern Ontario, as the students are working to cover more than just the major cities.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine faces the extreme challenge of having a distributed campus that encompasses the entirety of Northern Ontario—over 800,000 km². They have received contributions from several organizations and businesses.

“In Thunder Bay, Magnus Theatre, Superior Nails, an anonymous dental clinic, TBT Engineering, and Hamm Home Rehab have all contributed to our PPE campaign,” MacLean said.

“As part of our fundraising campaign to support manufacturing and operating costs for PPE production, we received a $1,000 donation from Domtar Corporation in Dryden. Domtar also donated an additional $4,000 directly to the hospitals in Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Dryden, and Red Lake,” she added.

Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM’s Dean, President and CEO, said she is impressed with the work her students have been doing.

“The hard work and advocacy I’m witnessing from our medical students is creating such terrific momentum,” Dr. Verma said. “I’m inspired by their initiative and social responsibility and proud of how they are stepping up to support their colleagues on the frontlines.”

If any businesses or individuals in Northern Ontario would like to make a financial contribution or donate PPE, please reach out to NOSM students using northernontarioppeforhcp@gmail.com

In Orillia, Rebecca Heffernan, Research and Strategic Initiatives Facilitator, collected around 4,000 pairs of gloves from Sustainability Sciences that will go to the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

“It was definitely nice to see everyone pulling together to help our community during such trying times,” Heffernan said. “Having donated to the Hospital directly will ensure that we are putting the much-needed PPE into the hands of our frontline healthcare workers.”

Dr. Sree Kurissery, Chair of Sustainability Sciences, said she is hopeful that life will return to normal sometime soon.

“I hope the world finds peace soon and humanity wins the battle against this disease. Everyone, stay safe and healthy.”





– 30 –



Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.




Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.

Lakehead University and NOSM collected personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in Northern Ontario and Orillia.

Fighting Pandemics

graduation photo

“Lakehead University’s nursing program is outstanding,” Pat says. “My degree prepared me to work in many healthcare settings in acute care, long-term care, community, and government.”

Alumna Pat Piaskowski is a Leader in Infection Control

“It’s so wonderful to be in Canada,” says nursing alumna Pat Piaskowski, “and to have such strong organizations, groups, and networks of individuals working so hard to control COVID-19 and protect the health of Canadians!”

Pat has been an infection control (IC) consultant since retiring from Public Health Ontario in 2015. Now she’s ready to step up and help fight the COVID-19 pandemic – and she has over 40 years of healthcare experience on her side.

She earned a nursing diploma in 1979 from Confederation College in Thunder Bay and several years later enrolled in Lakehead’s nursing program, completing her degree via distance education. She excelled in her studies, graduating with her Honours Bachelor of Science in Nursing, First Class Standing, in 2003.

“I remember doing classes by teleconference at the LU Faculty of Education building with a group of healthcare colleagues who were returning to get their degree. Many of us were already in healthcare leadership positions and wanted, or needed, to upgrade our qualifications.”

Pat’s nursing career began in Thunder Bay homes for the aged where she was eventually took on the role of nursing program developer before moving into infection control.

“During a Norovirus outbreak at the homes I was appointed infection control nurse. A few years later I became the director of care at the former Central Park Lodge.”

Pat received her Certification in Infection Control (CIC) in 1991 and was hired as the sole infection control professional (ICP) at the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital in 1993, now the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). For nine years she worked with staff, managers, physicians, and local public health professionals to control and prevent infectious outbreaks like resistant bacteria (MRSA, VRE and ESBLs), Norovirus, and SARs.

“I still get emotional talking about the nurses and doctors who became ill or died during SARS. I am very concerned about the health of all our healthcare workers during this current COVID-19 pandemic.”

After leaving the TBRHSC, Pat was instrumental in setting up the first of the Province of Ontario’s regional infection control networks and later became one its first regional network coordinators. This entailed providing infection control training and education materials to healthcare organizations across Northwestern Ontario. An average road trip was over 1,200 km, Pat recalls, and included collaborations with remote and urban First Nation communities.

Dealing with threats to the lives and health of patients and staff has given Pat the ability to thrive in high-stress situations. She volunteers with Shelter House and her church and relies on her religious beliefs and family and friends to keep her strong. “My eight grandchildren give me so much hope for humanity and our future,” Pat says. She’s also a fan of camping, fishing, family dinners, and barbecues – “the noisier the better.”

In the last few months, Pat has been turning her attention to the crisis engulfing the globe.

“I just completed a contract with the Public Health Agency of Canada as a scientific writer for the revised infection control document for COVID-19 in acute healthcare settings,” she explains. Pat has also taken on an unofficial role – confronting and correcting the onslaught of false information about the virus circulating on social media.

The Lakehead University community is honoured to share the story of this distinguished alumna – Pat Piaskowski makes us Lakehead proud.


Pat Piaskowski was an inaugural member on Ontario’s Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Committee (PIDAC), the editor in chief of the Canadian Journal of Infection Control, and the co-founder of the International Infection Control Council.

Find Your Inner Calm


We asked alumna Debbie Zweep (Bachelor of Administration, 1994), the co-owner of Modo Yoga Thunder Bay, if she had any tips to help people dealing with anxiety or challenging situations.

“The child’s pose and full belly breathing are very soothing,” Debbie says. “If you can just stay with the feeling of the breath, you’ll activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces calmness. In fact, any forward fold allows people to breathe into their back, a place where we hold lots of tension.”


Full Belly Breathing

  1. Lie down somewhere comfortable, with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Close your eyes and place your hands on your belly.
  3. Inhale through the nose and count to four or five, letting the belly rise into your hands.
  4. Exhale through the nose and mouth and let your belly relax as you count to four or five.
  5. Repeat for several minutes until you feel relaxed.


Child’s Pose

  1. On a yoga mat (or similar), kneel with your toes together and your knees spread wide, sink your glutes back to your heels, if they don’t touch, put a pillow or similar between your heels and glutes.
  2. Let your belly rest between your legs, extend your arms in front of you, and rest your head on the mat or a pillow.
  3. Take several deep breaths. Use the full belly breathing above.

You can also check out Modo Yoga Thunder Bay’s free yoga classes on Instagram Live @modoyogatbay  

“Last Sunday night I taught a bedtime yoga routine with about 100 people to help them fall asleep,” Debbie says. All the classes are taped for 24 hours and students can also access free online classes (including mediation, breath work, and yoga) at modoyoga.com, online classes, Promo Code TBAY.

Lakehead’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law earned first in the Sopinka Cup

March 31, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law placed first in the Sopinka Cup moot held recently in Ottawa.

This victory by Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco is in addition to success that Lakehead students have had at several other moots this year.

Congratulations must also go to the following students, for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.

Katrina Langevin and Rachel McLean competed in the Kawaskimhon Moot, and Katie Akey, Ryan Matson, Joe Ruan, and Kim Lennon competed in the Wilson Moot. 

Brooklynne Eeuwes, Kristy Hansen, Jenna Sheikh and Megan Wood participated in the OTLA Cup. Eeuwes won awards for best cross-examination and best overall advocate. She was the only competitor to win two awards – this also marks the first time that Lakehead has won an award in this moot.

Daniel Cox, Lakshani Perera, Claire McCann, and Samantha Charlebois excelled in the Walsh Family Law Negotiation. McCann and Charlebois earned third in the competition out of 12 teams. Also, Cox placed second for best oral advocate overall. 

Dr. Jula Hughes, Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, said the students’ recent success in competitive moots demonstrates the “very high skill level” developed at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.

“Key practice competencies like effectively working together in teams, high functioning in stressful contexts and being able to respond to feedback with creativity and analytical precision are very important for the practice of law,” Hughes said.

“Winning the Sopinka shows that our students have these skills in spades.”

Amanda Gallo, coach of the Sopinka team, said she was happy for all Bora Laskin Faculty of Law students who recently participated in moots. 

“I’m both incredibly excited and proud of our Sopinka Cup team,” she said.

“Our students represented the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law very well. It’s quite an accomplishment, for our students to have not only won the Sopinka Cup for the first time in the school’s history, but also to have won several individual awards as well.

“It demonstrates the way in which the Integrated Practice Curriculum at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law sets our students apart as practice-ready advocates upon their graduation. I’m honoured to have been a part of the early stages of these students' careers and cannot wait to see what they will accomplish in the future,” Gallo said.

Danto-Clancy and Blanco knew exactly what their case was going to be about at the Sopinka Cup because they had won the regional competition based on the same facts to earn a place at Sopinka. All eight Sopinka Cup participant schools had won or placed well in their respective regional competitions based on the same case – defending or prosecuting Carl Benoit.

In Ottawa they competed against seven other teams from law schools across Canada at the Sopinka Cup, one of Canada’s most prestigious mooting competitions honouring the late Mr. Justice John Sopinka, Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The pair from Lakehead had to successfully defend their fictional client, Benoit, a bar owner charged with causing an indignity to a body and first-degree murder. Benoit pleaded guilty to the first charge and not guilty to the second.

Having more than a month between the Arnup and Sopinka moots gave Danto-Clancy and Blanco time to refine their arguments, which they worked on every single day, often with teammates Kim Young, Ashlee Hudie, and Tamaira Muldoon-Davidson. They also met regularly with their coaches Gallo and Marco Frangione.

“We made some changes to our cross examinations, so they became more incisive and tighter,” Danto-Clancy said.

“We continued to develop our examinations so that they exposed more of the evidence we needed. We were always looking to tighten and find new links.

“My strategy for closing the trial was always intimately linked to the evidence that came out at trial; and Justin's opening address always analyzed the Crown's case, which closes right before our case begins. In that way our strategy was never the same trial-to-trial,” he said.

Trial advocacy is all about staying nimble and reacting to what happens right in front of you, Danto-Clancy said.

“We had been told that the national competition was all about razzle dazzle, memorized speeches, and moments of theatre – not so much about substantive trial advocacy,” he said.

“That's just not me and Justin, though. So, we stuck with our principled presentation of the case, we stuck with our unique brand of advocacy, and we stuck with trying to put together the best trial we could, based on all the uncertainty of the evidence before us. In the end, I think our approach showed that we are credible, diligent advocates.”

Blanco described how his cross examination was closely connected to Danto-Clancy's closing.

 “The delivery of Justis’s closing was intimately linked to the evidence that came out at trial,” he said.

“Justis knew exactly what kind of evidence I was seeking to elicit from the witness and would begin drafting his closing argument right there in the courtroom. He also needed to know how we were going to change our theory of the case if the evidence did not come out as expected. Our strategy was to be adaptive and flexible.

“Another important feature of our refinement process was the feedback from our coaches. Oftentimes, we forget how our delivery will sound to an audience hearing it for the first time. Our coaches were able to tune in to whether a particular line of questioning or argumentation was really hitting, and we were able to adjust accordingly,” Blanco said.

Danto-Clancy thanked everyone who helped the team along the way. He said they would not have placed first without the help of their coaches, professors and fellow students.

“We had the chance to represent the practical, small-class, Northern-specific curriculum that the school offers. No doubt every practical exercise that I've completed in the course of my degree so far helped me prepare for this competition.

“That said, the community of students was instrumental to our preparation. We drew on student-volunteer witnesses at our practice trials. We relied on our teammates to help us refine our theory and tactics. We were lucky to have the support of our alumni community as coaches and advisors,” he said, adding that representing Lakehead felt amazing.

“It was an honour to bring national attention to our unique way of approaching legal education,” Danto-Clancy said.

Blanco agreed, stating that one of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law’s strengths is its tight-knit community of students.

“Everyone conducts themselves as if they have a stake in the success of the school,” he said.

“We had no problem getting students to come to our trial practices during their own free time to play the role of different witnesses even though it requires many hours of preparation. The community and atmosphere at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law encourages that kind of volunteerism.”

Danto-Clancy and Blanco also won three individual awards, including best overall advocate, best direct examination, and best cross-examination.


– 30 –



Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.



Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.

In front from left, are Justin Blanco and Justis Danto-Clancy, with Ashlee Hudie, Kim Young, Marco Frangione, Amanda Gallo, and Tamaira Muldoon-Davidson.


Clark and Bettencourt named Orillia Thunderwolves 2019-2020 athletes of the year

A men's soccer player kicks the ball during a game


Chris Bettencourt member of the varsity men's indoor soccer team.

March 27, 2020 – Orillia, Ont.

The Lakehead Orillia Thunderwolves didn’t let the cancellation of the annual Athletic Awards Banquet stop them from celebrating a successful 2019-2020 athletics season. On Friday, March 27, the Thunderwolves handed out awards to student athletes during a virtual banquet.

“This isn’t the way that we wanted the season to end, but it was important for us to celebrate the accomplishments of our athletes with their teammates and peers,” explained Sarah Batley, Student Athletics and Wellness Coordinator. “Thank you for the incredible spirit and passion you have shown, this year, for your sport. And a special thanks to our graduating athletes. Congratulations to everyone, in particular our award winners.”

Hannah Clark (women’s basketball) and Chris Bettencourt (varsity men’s indoor soccer) were named 2019-2020 Athletes of the Year.

A female basketball player dribbles a basketball down the court

Hannah Clark of the women's basketball team.

Clark, a Master of Education student, helped lead the women’s basketball team to three championships. This year, she stepped up to mentor and welcome new players into the Thunderwolves family, and committed to making the new on-court partnership with the Georgian Grizzlies a success.

Bettencourt, a fourth-year Business Administration student, will leave the program on solid footing. For four years, Bettencourt led the varsity men’s indoor soccer team with dedication, charisma and hard work. As team captain, he took an active role in supporting the first-year players and ensuring that they adapted to the program and the collegiate level of play.

Gia Spiropoulos player-coach

Gia Spiropoulos, player-coach for the women's basketball team.

The new Principal’s Award for Leadership in Athletics and Recreation was presented to Gia Spiropoulos (women’s basketball) and Peter Scholtes (men’s basketball). Both Spiropoulos and Scholtes stepped up to take on player-coach roles for their respective teams in their first year with the Thunderwolves. Neither of these student-athletes needed to take on the role of coach, adding to their already demanding academic programs, but they both did so in order to allow their teammates to continue playing.

Peter Scholtes player-coach

Peter Scholtes, player-coach for the men's basketball team. 

Another major award winner was varsity golfer Lucas Chiarot who received the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) All-Academic Award. The OCAA All-Academic Award is presented to full-time student athletes who also meet honours academic standards at Lakehead University.

A young man watches his golf ball after a chip shot

Lucas Chiarot, member of the varsity men's golf team and recipient of the OCAA All-Academic Award.

Awards were also presented to top student athletes in each of the University’s sports teams: varsity golf, equestrian, men’s and women’s hockey, dance, men’s and women’s varsity indoor soccer, and men’s and women’s basketball. Most valuable player and rookie of the year were announced and presented by the team coaches, who were also recognized and thanked by the University.

A complete list of award winners from the evening can be found below as well as on our website www.orilliathunderwolves.ca

Athletes of the Year

Hannah Clark – Women’s Basketball
Chris Bettencourt – Varsity Men’s Indoor Soccer

Principal’s Award for Athletics in Leadership and Recreation

Gia Spiropoulos – Women’s Basketball
Peter Scholtes – Men’s Basketball

Team Awards

Men’s Basketball
MVP: Kurtis Page
Leadership Award: Brett Tomlinson

Women’s Basketball
MVP: Breanna Shaw
Rookie of the Year: Avery Williams

MVP: Lauren Oke
Most Dedicated: Elizabeth Reynolds

MVP: Jill Widdifield
Rookie of the Year: Meaghan Welch

Varsity Golf
MVP: Josh Brown
Rookie of the Year: Alex Castanheiro

Men’s Hockey
MVP: Santino Tonigussi
Rookie of the Year: Kyle Kopko

Women’s Hockey
MVP: Jordan Bolzon
Rookie of the Year: Fairyn Bannerman

Men’s Varsity Indoor Soccer
MVP: Chris Bettencourt
Rookie of the Year: Connor Chowen

Women’s Varsity Indoor Soccer
MVP: Ally Morris
Rookie of the Year: Grace Heywood

- 30 –

Media contact: Jaclyn Bucik, Media, Communications & Marketing Associate at jaclyn.bucik@lakeheadu.ca.

Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.

A woman dribbles a basketball and a young male runs after a soccer ball

Lakehead professor hosting free webinar series: Surviving and Thriving at Home with Your Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. David Tranter, Associate Professor with the School of Social Work, will be offering free live and on-demand webinars for parents and caregivers. The series entitled, Surviving and Thriving at Home with Your Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic, provides expert advice in the areas of parenting, learning at home, and managing anxiety. Dr. Tranter is providing three webinars:

Session One: The March Break is Over, Now What?
Wednesday, March 25, 1 PM
This first session of the series covers the top ten ways you and your children can successfully settle in to staying at home. Topics will include: establishing realistic expectations, creating a daily routine, and dealing with stress and worry

Session Two: Learning at Home is Not like Learning at School
Wednesday, April 1, 1 PM
This session will examine how you can support your child’s learning and development without turning your dining room into a classroom. Topics will include: what matters most when it comes to learning, capitalizing on curiosity, and dealing with opposition without detention or suspension

Session Three: Are We Having Fun Yet? Saying Positive Over the Long Haul
Wednesday, April 8, 1 PM
This session will focus on maintaining your own well-being so you can support the well-being of your children. Topics will include: staying motivated and positive, managing boredom and anxiety, and supporting your own well-being

For more information, or to register, go to https://www.bigmarker.com/communities/nelson-professional-learning/confe...