Lakehead partners with the Town of Innisfil to host South Simcoe Innovation Week

Innisfil, ON – The Town of Innisfil and Lakehead University will be hosting the first ever Lakehead University South Simcoe Innovation Week from April 30 to May 2, in partnership with Nottawasaga Futures, the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury and the County of Simcoe. The event, funded in part by the County of Simcoe Entrepreneurial Innovation Fund, will bring together entrepreneurial thinkers from across Simcoe County to access business and innovation oriented workshops and events.

“Our community is fortunate to have world-class post-secondary partners, like Lakehead University, who are able to educate and empower business leaders to innovate within their own organizations,” says Mayor Lynn Dollin. “Through this partnership, we're thrilled to support entrepreneurs and even more thrilled that Lakehead will involve students from secondary schools in an innovation competition that will include future changemakers.”

The inaugural initiative will include an Adaptive Leadership and Design Thinking Workshop for business leaders who are looking at helping their teams incorporate entrepreneurial practices into their organization. A Business Model Canvas Workshop will support current or aspiring entrepreneurs capture their business idea in a simple yet structured business plan which can be used as a foundation to build or scale a business. Experts from Lakehead’s business accelerator, Ingenuity, will also host a student-only event at Nantyr Shores Secondary School to teach students about the entrepreneurial journey and engage them through an innovative competition.

This initiative aligns with Innisfil’s new Economic Development Strategic Plan, and in particular supports the goal of building an innovative and investment ready business community. The purpose of South Simcoe Innovation Week is to connect entrepreneurs with supports like those available at Lakehead’s Ingenuity business accelerator and showcase the expertise available through Lakehead faculty and students. As part of the festivities Lakehead will update the community on valuable and innovative research taking place at Innisfil’s Circle Park.

“Lakehead is proud to be part of a such a creative and innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Dr. Linda Rodenberg, Interim Principal of the Lakehead Orillia Campus. “We’re excited to be able to bring this programming to the South Simcoe community, and to empower the entrepreneurs of the future.”

South Simcoe Innovation Events will take place between April 30 and May 2, 2024, and registration is required. For more details, and to register, visit these links: 

Business Model Canvas Workshop (in-person)

Business Model Canvas Workshop (virtual)

Adaptive Leadership and Design Thinking Workshop

To learn more about Economic Development in Innisfil, entrepreneurial supports and to stay up to date on news and events, subscribe to our email list.

Lakehead and Confederation College collaborate on two in-demand health care pathways

(Thunder Bay, ON – April 19, 2024) – Confederation College and Lakehead University have signed an agreement that allows students who complete an Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology or Bachelor of Kinesiology degree to receive advanced standing in the college’s Paramedic or Medical Radiation Technology diploma programs.

Shane Strickland, Dean of Health, Negahneewin, and Community Services at Confederation College, emphasized the strategic design of the Paramedic program to address the immediate needs of Northwestern Ontario. "This program not only meets the urgent demand for paramedics in the region but also incorporates vital field experience, allowing students to gain hands-on learning in real medical situations," said Strickland. Highlighting the program's significance, Strickland noted that it is recognized as a priority by the Government of Ontario, with students eligible for the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant, which covers the cost of tuition and books for students who commit to serving in the region post-graduation.

The Medical Radiation Technology program, similarly, stands out with its Accreditation Canada seal of approval, preparing students for the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) certification exam. Successful graduates find rewarding careers in diagnostic imaging across hospitals, clinics, and various medical settings. "Our programs are meticulously designed to ensure graduates are not just qualified but are ready to excel in their professional roles," Strickland added.

Lakehead University kinesiology graduates will be well-positioned to seek a career in both health program areas.

Lakehead University's Associate Vice-Provost (Academic), Dr. Michel Beaulieu, highlighted the mutual benefits of this agreement. "This partnership not only acknowledges the value of prior learning, optimizing health care education pathways, it also actively reduces barriers to student mobility within Northwestern Ontario."

Echoing the sentiment, Dr. Ian Newhouse, Director of Lakehead University’s School of Kinesiology, pointed out the versatility of kinesiology graduates.

"Our graduates are discovering that their skills are immensely beneficial in various health care roles,” he explained. “This collaboration with Confederation College opens doors for them to further their careers in meaningful ways."

Aaron Skillen, Vice President Academic at Confederation College, elaborated on the synergy between the two institutions. "This initiative is part of Confederation College’s ongoing commitment to innovating educational pathways in collaboration with partners like Lakehead University. Together, they aim to equip students with practical skills and knowledge, preparing them for the dynamic world of work in Northwestern Ontario and beyond.”

Skillen also added that the pathways offer an especially good fit for students. “We have observed that students with a kinesiology degree transition smoothly into these programs, as they come equipped with a robust foundation of knowledge. This agreement formally recognizes their prior learning, streamlining their educational journey by reducing the number of courses they need to undertake with us."

Students interested in learning more about this pathway can visit the Confederation College website


Confederation College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967 meeting the educational needs of students in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres. Along with its main campus in Thunder Bay, Confederation College has seven regional sites located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Greenstone, Kenora, Marathon, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake, as well as a growing Distance Education division.    

Confederation College delivers exceptional education and training to an average of 7,000 combined full- and part-time students per year and currently has a total of 600 full- and part-time employees. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $707.3 million annually.  

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 nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 9,000 students in THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit

Lakehead’s Civil Engineering students win top prizes at Steel Bridge Competition

Steel Bridge Team

(from left) Wadika Faisal, Nadine Elmehriki, Ibrahim Shaheed, Mohamed Abi, Lovely Faith Donaldson, Karl Prentice, Zachary Morgan, Cory Hubbard, Kailash Bhatia, and Dr. Yanglin Gong.

April 18, 2024 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

The Lakehead University steel bridge team achieved top prizes at the annual American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Western Great Lakes Student Symposium in Chicago from April 4 to 6.

The Lakehead team won three awards including first place in lightness, second place in aesthetics and third place in construction economy, and were ranked fourth place overall among the 16 universities competing.

The team was made up of third- and fourth-year civil engineering students: captain Zachary Morgan, co-captain Karl Prentice, Lovely Faith Donaldson, Ibrahim Shaheed, Mohamed Abi, and Wadika Faisal.

In this year’s competition, students were challenged to design and fabricate a 1:10 scale model steel bridge spanning 21 feet over an extra-wide eight-foot river and subject to height restrictions to minimize interference with its surroundings. The bridge was then tested under 2,500 pounds of weight to confirm its stability, strength and stiffness.

“Ever since I started at Lakehead, my goal was to be on the steel bridge team,” said Morgan. “I have had an amazing experience learning skills that will impact my life and my future career.”

The competition experience included conceptual design and details design, fabrication, erection, and testing.

“Every challenge we faced was not just an obstacle, but a valuable opportunity for growth and learning, guiding us to redefine success through perseverance and ingenuity,” Prentice explained. “As a team, we embraced the unpredictable knowing that tenacity fuels innovation and resilience.”

“The competition weekend was a fantastic experience, especially seeing the diverse designs and innovations from many different universities,” added Donaldson.

In addition, third-year civil engineering student Nadine Elmehriki participated in a paper competition, representing the Lakehead ASCE student chapter.

The Lakehead delegation was led by faculty advisor Dr. Yanglin Gong and supported by technologists Cory Hubbard and Kailash Bhatia. Construction company Facca Inc. and the Iron Workers Local 759 in Thunder Bay were the major sponsors for the team.

“The bridge competition challenges our students to extend their classroom knowledge to a practical, hands-on design and construction project that grows their professional and interpersonal skills,” said Dr. Gong.

Dr. Jian Deng, chair of civil engineering in Lakehead’s Faculty of Engineering added, “The Department of Civil Engineering is incredibly proud of our students. Their performance was exceptional and they once again demonstrated that Lakehead can compete and win against tough competition from top U.S. universities in the region.”

LAIR Galleries Features Stained Glass Paintings by Paul Edmonds

Paul Edmonds stained glass workThe 2024 Lakehead Arts Integrated Research (LAIR) resident artist is Paul Edmonds. His painted stained glass series is featured on the LAIR website. Paul is a self-taught artist who started painting in the 1980s, as a means to convey hope, resiliency, and beauty in the face of adversity.

Paul is known worldwide as the “City of Hope Patient”. He is one of five people who have been cured of HIV. Of this very rare group, Paul is the eldest and had HIV the longest. Through a life-saving stem cell transplant of a rare genetic mutation that makes the body resistant to HIV, Paul is now cured and he no longer takes HIV medication.

Paul serves on the Community Advisory Board for RID-HIV, one of 10 Martin Delaney Collaboratories funded by the National Institutes of Health. He also works tirelessly, speaking at events and raising awareness of HIV cure research. He believes that art has the power to inspire, heal, and bring people together.

While stem cell transplantation is not an accessible cure, the five cured patients have provided scientists with an increased understanding of the virus. The World Health Organization reports that in 2022, 39 million people were living with HIV and 630,000 people died of HIV-related illnesses. WHO contends that “HIV continues to be a major global public health issue”. Through collaborative scientific research and community engagement efforts, HIV research awareness is growing. See related HIV arts integrated efforts in the LAIR Gallery.

The LAIR Galleries regularly feature juried artworks and artists, promoting the power of the arts in research and education. 

Pictured is Stained Glass No. 6, Paul Edmonds, 2023

John Dobson Foundation supports entrepreneurial spirit at Lakehead University

Alyson MacKay leads an information workshop through Ingenuity
Lakehead's Ingenuity Ascend Accelerator program is a 10-week program that provides mentorship, networking, and business development workshops to entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni looking to transform their ideas into tangible realities.

April 16, 2024 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

A $132,000 award from the John Dobson Foundation’s Dobson Entrepreneurship Excellence Project will help Lakehead University train future entrepreneurs through Ingenuity’s Ascend Accelerator program.

With the support of the Dobson Entrepreneurship Excellence Project Award (DEEPA), the Ingenuity incubator space will fund 24 business ideas over the next two years and expand Ascend Accelerator programming to Lakehead’s Orillia Campus.

“The Ascend Accelerator program is one of Ingenuity’s biggest success stories,” said manager Alyson MacKay. “I am beyond excited that we’ll be able to engage students year-round through Ascend Accelerator and support our entrepreneurially-minded students in Orillia – an opportunity we have not had until now.”

Launched in 2020, the Ascend Accelerator program supports entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni who are looking to transition an idea into a business opportunity or accelerate the growth and development of their early-stage start-up.

The program provides entrepreneurs access to mentorship, develops their business knowledge, and creates accountability through milestone goal creation.

“Ascend also delivers seed funding to student entrepreneurs to support business development costs,” explained MacKay.

To date, the program has run three cohorts and supported 12 business ideas, nine of which are still active.

"Lakehead University is fortunate to have the support of the John Dobson Foundation,” stated Dr. Andrew Dean, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “The Ascend Accelerator program is important to both support and facilitate the growth of our entrepreneurial students. We are excited to see where this year's cohort of participants take their business ideas thanks to the support of this increased funding.”

To follow along as we grow the next generation of innovators and changemakers, please visit

Enactus Lakehead Brings Home Runner-Up at Regional Exposition

The Enactus Lakehead team

Enactus Lakehead represented Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay campus at the Enactus Canada Central Region Regional Exposition in Mississauga on March 7 and 8. A team from the Orillia campus also participated this year for the first time.

Each year, Enactus Canada runs a series of regional and national expositions allowing teams to display their work from the past academic year. Enactus Lakehead was recognized as the runner-up in the TD-Entrepreneurship Challenge, an award last won by Enactus Lakehead in 2019.

This year, the team developed a new project called Brain Blitz, which focuses on educating high school and university students on the basics of entrepreneurship and soft skills through numerous activities such as speaker series, soft skills workshops, and hackathons. Enactus Lakehead would like to thank all the students who participated in these events and the faculty and staff who supported our activities! In total, since starting this project in June 2023, Enactus Lakehead impacted over 580 students.

Thanks to many different sponsors, four different competitions were run. The team participated in the Desjardins Youth Empowerment Challenge, TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, and the Innovation and Impact Challenge Powered by Enactus Alumni. At the regional exposition, 29 teams competed for the title of regional champion in their given challenge.

Before the competition, our team ran a Pre-Regionals Community Showcase that was attended by numerous entrepreneurship mentors from across Thunder Bay. The showcase provided the team with valuable practice and feedback on their presentation.

Thanks to all this practice, Enactus Lakehead was recognized as the Runner-Up in the TD-Entrepreneurship Challenge, an award not won by Enactus Lakehead since 2019. Morgan Gordon, the project manager of Brain Blitz, expressed, “it is amazing to be recognized for our hard work and dedication to serving the student community of Lakehead University.”

At the regional exposition, the team also had the opportunity to network with upwards of 1,400 other university students with the same goal.

The Thunder Bay Enactus team will be traveling to the Enactus Canada National Exposition in May to compete with the same project, with the goal of being crowned National Champion, and the honour of representing Canada in the World Cup!

Enactus Lakehead would like to thank all the students, faculty, and staff who have volunteered numerous hours to advise and assist the team throughout all of its activities. Without the support of these individuals as well as our sponsors, inspirational trips like these would not be possible!

34th Annual Powwow at Lakehead University March 8 to 10

Dancers participate in the annual Powwow at Lakehead UniversityMarch 1, 2024 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Students, employees and the Thunder Bay community are invited to gather in celebration of Indigenous culture and dance at the Indigenous Cultural Traditions Club's (ICTC) 34th Annual Powwow.

The annual Powwow takes place in the CJ Sanders Fieldhouse at Lakehead University from March 8 to 10. ICTC is honoured to have Rolling Thunder as the Host Drum.

Warm-ups will be held on Friday, March 8 from 6 to 8 pm. The Grand Entry will take place at 1 pm and 6 pm on Saturday, March 9. A traditional feast will be served at 5 pm. The Powwow will wrap up for the day around 9 pm. On Sunday, March 10, the Grand Entry will take place at 12 pm and the Powwow will end at 5 pm.

The annual Powwow is ICTC’s signature event that showcases tremendous talent and entertainment, free of charge, while reinforcing traditional aspects of Indigenous culture such as drumming, dancing, singing, and giving thanks. 

ICTC (formerly the Lakehead University Native Student Association) is a volunteer LUSU club. The club’s goal is to promote the spirit of unity among Indigenous students at Lakehead through social, cultural, and recreational events in addition to promoting cultural awareness between club members and the greater student population.


Friday, March 8
Warm-ups, 6 to 8 pm

Saturday, March 9
Grand Entry, 1 pm and 6 pm
Traditional feast, 5 pm

Sunday, March 10

Grand Entry, 12 pm

Closing ceremonies until 5 pm 

Master of Ceremonies: Todd Genno
Arena Director: Brad Fyfe
Spiritual Advisor: Carmela Moses
Host Drum:  Rolling Thunder

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Media: For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Jaclyn Bucik, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at 705-330-4010 ext. 2014 or

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 nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 9,000 students in THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit

Ascend Accelerator helps entrepreneurs turn business ideas into reality

Ascend Accelerator graduates

Ascend Accelerator graduates (from left) Joshua Sanchez, Aliss Chavarri, Lesly Gunasekara, and Bryan Wong are pictured with Ingenuity manager Alyson MacKay. 

April 9, 2024 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

Lakehead University recently celebrated graduates from its fourth cohort of the Ascend Accelerator program, hosted by the Ingenuity incubator space.

Sidney HowlettThis year’s cohort saw four student-led Thunder Bay and Orillia-based ventures navigate their way through the entrepreneurial journey. The businesses range from augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) software development to sustainability consulting services, and Airbnb cleaning solutions.

Along with funding from the John Dobson Foundation, students were provided with a platform to transform their ideas into tangible realities. Participants received mentorship and weekly workshops and were held accountable to milestone goals created over the 10-week program, which ran from January to March.

Ingenuity manager Alyson MacKay said it was exciting to help the students develop their businesses. “I continue to be amazed at the talent that we are seeing in our students. The level of commitment and passion I have seen from these participants is incredible and I look forward to continuing to work with them,” she said.

Nestar is one of four new businesses supported through Ascend. Created by Joshua Sanchez and Aliss Chavarri, the Thunder Bay-based business specializes in providing rental solutions that enhance the renting experience for both landlords and tenants.

Nestar’s user-friendly website provides automatic payment facilities, electronic lease signing, and a sophisticated matching system with integrated background checks to connect the right tenants with the right landlords. The business is committed to setting new standards in the rental industry and transforming the way people rent and manage properties in Thunder Bay.

“The Ascend Accelerator program has had a profound impact on our company, allowing us to navigate challenges and seize opportunities we never thought possible,” Sanchez said.

“Their spaces, webinars, and connections provided us with the resources and knowledge needed to develop, launch and grow our business. We are truly grateful for their dedication to our success and recognize the countless entrepreneurs who would greatly benefit from this program. Thank you for believing in us and helping us turn our vision into reality.”

Sidney Howlett started Sidney Howlett Consulting in Orillia to help organizations navigate the complex landscape of climate action. Her firm delivers a comprehensive suite of services including consultation on climate action and sustainability strategies, professional development workshops, public speaking engagements, and informed research support.

“From access to a lawyer to review my service contracts to guidance in developing my website, the mentorship, funding, and workshops have been instrumental in establishing my business,” Howlett said. “I have already had my first successful climate action consultation with a school board and can't wait to see the impact my services have thanks to the support of the Ascend Accelerator Program."

Bryan Wong’s venture, Sprout Circle, is pushing the boundaries of technology by developing cutting-edge interactive AR/VR solutions that revolutionize education, offering students and professionals alike an unparalleled opportunity to explore and comprehend complex concepts in an immersive 3D environment.

Lesly Gunasekara’s Lavender and Luxe Cleaning Services specializes in premium cleaning services exclusively for Airbnb hosts. From swift turnovers to deep cleaning between guest stays, they ensure Airbnb properties maintain the highest standards of cleanliness.

Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, congratulated the five graduates of the program, wishing them luck with their businesses.

“The graduating entrepreneurs have demonstrated exceptional problem-solving skills by addressing market gaps with their unique products and services. Their contributions are meeting consumer needs but also fostering regional economic growth,” Dr. Dean said.

“I would like to congratulate all the graduates. I wish you all the best as you take your businesses to the next level in your entrepreneurial journey.”

For more about Ingenuity, visit


Lakehead Orillia celebrates achievements at 2023-24 athletic awards

April 5, 2024 – Orillia, Ont.

Lakehead University’s Orillia Campus celebrated a successful 2023-24 athletics season on Thursday, April 4, handing out awards at the annual Athletic Awards Banquet.

Paige Galbraith walked away with the Female Athlete of the Year, with Jonathan Aronov claiming Male Athlete of the Year. Bethany Foster received this year’s Principal’s Award for leadership in athletics.

“Congratulations to all of the award winners, exceptional student athletes, and coaches on a successful season,” said Drake Aldred, Coordinator of Athletics and Recreation. “The annual awards banquet is an opportunity to gather and highlight all of the hard work that goes into the season; your commitment to academics and athletics is remarkable and we look forward to witnessing your continued success as student-athletes.”

Most valuable player and rookie of the year were also announced and presented to top athletes in each of the University’s sports teams: men’s and women’s hockey, dance, and men’s and women’s varsity indoor soccer.

For a full list of awards, please see below:

Major Award Winners

Female Athlete of the Year
Paige Galbraith, Varsity Women’s Indoor Soccer

Male Athlete of the Year
Jonathan Aronov, Varsity Men’s Indoor Soccer

Principal’s Award
Bethany Foster, Varsity Women’s Indoor Soccer

Team Awards

Men’s Varsity Indoor Soccer
MVP: Alec McNeil
Rookie of the Year: Domenic Pecchia

Women’s Varsity Indoor Soccer
MVP: Alison Birkett
Rookie of the Year: Hannah Szeplaki

Men’s Extramural Hockey
MVP: Ryan Graff-Sakasov
Rookie of the Year: Desmond Kropf

Women’s Extramural Hockey
MVP: Rachel Poole
Rookie of the Year: Alexandra Walker

MVP: Reese Chamberlain
Rookie of the Year: Alexis Sheppard

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Student athlete award winners

Lake Superior Living Labs Network April Newsletter

Check out the latest Lake Superior Living Labs Network (LSLLN) newsletter for updates on our recent activity and upcoming events. The LSLLN serves as a platform to connect academics and community groups to develop new partnerships and collaborative initiatives across the Lake Superior watershed. For more information visit

An open spot on the shores of Lake Superior