Turning Points | Fall 2022

Turning Points

Back view of Lakehead students in robes walking across stage to receive diplomas


Colin Ballantyne (BAdmin'93) was awarded the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers for his work as a volunteer with Scouts Canada and the 1st Port Nelson Scouts in Burlington, Ontario. This medal recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields. For more than 20 years, Colin has been involved with the Scout movement including organizing training courses for thousands of youngsters in the community, co-founding the Burlington Area Canoe Camp, coordinating the Burlington Area Competition Camp, and working as camp chief of the Burlington Scout/Guide Co-op Camp.

Jennifer Ebert (HBA'95) became the commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Newfoundland and Labrador in April 2022. She joined the RCMP in 1997 and has served in various capacities during her 25-year policing career, most recently as the commanding officer of the RCMP in Prince Edward Island. Her postings have taken her to the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island. Jennifer has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Lakehead as well as leadership certificates from several other universities and institutes. She lives with her husband and youngest child in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Newfoundland.

Mark Naipaul (BEd'93) was featured in an issue of Dal News celebrating 2022 Dalhousie University graduates. Mark, who was born in Trinidad and grew up in Toronto, recently completed a Bachelor of Science in Recreation at Dalhousie. He will be returning to Dalhousie this fall to start a Master of Science in Physiotherapy. After graduation, Mark would like to use physiotherapy and recreation therapy to help veterans with PTSD and physical injuries. In addition to his Bachelor of Education degree from Lakehead, he has a BA in Physical Education from Western University.

Scott Paddington (HBCom'99) has been promoted to Everest Reinsurance Canada's chief agent and chief underwriting officer. Since joining the company in 2010, Scott has increased the growth and profitability of the Everest portfolio and, in his new role, he will oversee Everest's Canadian reinsurance business operations. Prior to his career with Everest, Scott worked as a financial advisor at Nesbitt Burns, in an insurance role at Empyrean, and in a reinsurance position at Guy Carpenter Canada. He's also worked in various Canadian banks where he developed expertise in both capital markets and global risk management. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and an Honours Bachelor of Commerce from Lakehead University.


Dr. Geoff Heggie (MSc'05) was promoted to vice-president of exploration with Clean Air Metals in March 2022. Clean Air Metals is a Canadian-based platinum and palladium exploration company focused on advancing its flagship Thunder Bay North Critical Minerals project in the Thunder Bay region of Ontario. Geoff previously worked on the Thunder Bay North Project for seven years. He earned his BSc in Geology at the University of Saskatchewan, his MSc in Geology at Lakehead, and his PhD at the University of Western Australia. Geoff is an expert in ultramafic/mafic hosted Ni-Cu-PGE deposits and on mid-continent rift geology in North America. Previously, Geoff was the exploration manager at Clean Air Metals.

John McBride (HBSc'07/MSc'10) has been appointed vice-president of exploration at Nighthawk Gold—a Canadian-based gold exploration company located roughly 200 km north of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. John has extensive experience advancing exploration projects, particularly in Canadian field-based geology searching for precious metals, base metals, and diamonds. Other roles John has held include exploration manager at Generation Mining Ltd. and senior exploration geologist at Marathon Gold Corp., where he managed the exploration programs for the Valentine Lake Gold Project in Newfoundland. He's also a member of the Association of Professional Geoscientists in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Kristofor (Kris) Tuuttila (HBESc'03) was appointed the director of sustainability, permitting and community relations with Clean Air Metals in March 2022. Clean Air Metals is a Canadian-based platinum and palladium exploration company focused on developing its Thunder Bay North Critical Minerals project in the Thunder Bay region of Ontario. Kris comes to his new position with 19 years of management experience in environmental consulting for projects across Canada and he's been instrumental in signing several partnership agreements to provide economic and training benefits to First Nations communities. In addition to his Honours Bachelor of Environmental Science from Lakehead, Kris has a diploma in Environmental Engineering Technology from Confederation College.


Sarah Pelletier (BA'10) is following in the footsteps of her late father Phil Pelletier, who was a trustee with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board (TBCDSB) for nearly 25 years. Like her father, Sarah believes that it’s critical to have Indigenous voices on the Board to represent Indigenous students, so she was very pleased to be elected as a TBCDSB trustee in the spring of 2022. Sarah herself graduated from St. Patrick High School in Thunder Bay and has three children who are TBCDSB students. As a trustee, her portfolio of schools includes Our Lady of Charity, St. Ann, and St. Martin.

Patrick Penner (HBScF’15) became the general manager of the McBride Community Forest Corporation in the village of McBride, British Columbia, in January 2022. The aim of the McBride Community Forest is to give direct control of the forest to the people of McBride and to give community members the opportunity to stimulate economic activity. Patrick first arrived in McBride in 2017 when he was hired by Optimum Resources Ltd. as a forest engineer. He later worked as a geographic information specialist and a project manager at Optimum. Patrick also worked as a forestry technician at Sumac Forest Information Services in Thunder Bay after he completed his Honours Bachelor of Science degree from Lakehead.

In Memoriam

Melissa Coates (BSc’92) passed away due to COVID-19 complications on June 23, 2021. Melissa was an internationally renowned bodybuilding champion, fitness model, and professional wrestler. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, she graduated from Lakehead University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She rose to fame in the early 90s as a pro bodybuilder and was ranked 9th in the world in women’s bodybuilding and was featured extensively in fitness magazines such as Muscle & Fitness. Then, in the early 2000s, Melissa launched a successful pro wrestling career and competed in the WWE. She was also a TV and movie actress. A celebration of Melissa’s life is planned for the fall of 2022 in Thunder Bay. If you wish, donations in her memory may be made to the Melissa Coates Award at Lakehead University.

David Raymond Jarraway (HBA’71/BEd’72) passed away on March 5, 2022, after a courageous battle with cancer. David was born in 1949 and grew up in Thunder Bay. He earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Education at Lakehead University and then taught with the Lakehead Board of Education for 14 years. While teaching, he completed an MA in English at the University of Toronto in 1977 and subsequently left the Lakehead Board to pursue a PhD in American Studies at Brown University. He spent 27 years as a University of Ottawa professor before retiring in 2018. David was an avid world traveller with his partner Ian.

Walter Wieckowski (HBCom’74) passed away on May 22, 2022. Walter was born on June 22, 1951, in Germany, but while still an infant, his family immigrated to Thunder Bay. After receiving his Honours Bachelor of Commerce from Lakehead, Walter and his wife Carol moved to Toronto where Walter earned a law degree at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1977. After graduation, he opened a law firm in Hamilton, Ontario, but returned to Thunder Bay in 1981 because he and Carol wanted to start a family. In Thunder Bay, Walter established another law firm where he practiced civil litigation, corporate/commercial, real estate, and will and estate law. He was also a deputy judge for many years. Walter is remembered as a loving father and an avid minor league hockey trainer, coach, and manager.

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