Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and Lakehead University sign MOU to help students realize their dreams

Dr Moira McPherson Amanda Stefanile and Honourable Jill Dunlop celebrate the signing of the memorandum of understanding

(from left) Dr. Moira McPherson, President and Vice-Chancellor, is pictured alongside Amanda Stefanile, Achievement Program Coordinator, and the Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lakehead University and the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board.

September 16, 2021 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Students with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board will have a greater chance of attending university thanks to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with Lakehead University today, Thursday, Sept. 16.

Current and future Grade 4 students from Sioux Mountain Public School in Sioux Lookout who are eligible will now have the opportunity to enroll in Lakehead University’s Achievement Program. Students who are eligible to participate (those facing barriers to postsecondary education) will attend special on-campus programming at the University and meet certain criteria to earn financial support toward their first year of tuition at Lakehead University. 

The Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, attended the signing event on Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay campus.

“I would like to congratulate Lakehead University and the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board on this innovative program,” said Dunlop. “When postsecondary institutions and local partners work together, they find unique ways to help learners realize their potential and contribute to building a strong community.”

Lakehead President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Moira McPherson signed the MOU with Sherri-Lynne Pharand, Director of Education at the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board.

“The Achievement Program gives young people who normally face barriers to postsecondary education the opportunity to realize their dreams,” McPherson said.

“This program encourages students to see themselves as Lakehead University graduates at an early age by removing those barriers,” she added.

Lakehead University and Keewatin-Patricia District School Board celebrate the signing of an MOULakehead introduced the program in 2011 to help students obtain a postsecondary education at the University. Eligible participants enrol in Grade 4 and continue with the program until Grade 12, with annual opportunities to earn financial assistance by completing specific requirements at their school, in their community, and at Lakehead University.

“The signing of this MOU is an exciting milestone that will offer exceptional opportunities to our students, allowing them to see themselves as university students of the future,” Pharand said.

“Eligible students at Sioux Mountain Public School will be supported all the way through their journey, beginning in Grade 4, including opportunities for campus and career exploration days, visits from the exceptional program staff at Lakehead University, and access to mentors once the students transition to high school.

“We are proud to partner with Lakehead University to offer these opportunities to families at Sioux Mountain Public School and look forward to expanding the program to other KPDSB schools in the future,” she said.

At the end of the nine years, the accrued value of each student’s financial support will help fund their first year at Lakehead University. Lakehead provides additional spots each year, based on available funding, for eligible students to enrol. 



Brandon Walker
Media, Communications & Marketing Associate
Lakehead University
(807) 343-8372

Sheena Pilipishen
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board


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. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2020 World Universities Rankings for the second consecutive year, and 99th among 1,115 universities from around the world in THE's 2021 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit

The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board is a progressive and proud public school board that serves the communities of beautiful Northwestern Ontario.  We have schools in the communities of Kenora, Sioux Narrows, Vermilion Bay, Ear Falls, Red Lake, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Ignace, Pickle Lake, Savant Lake and Upsala as well as serving the educational needs of many neighbouring and far north First Nation communities.