2023-24 Varsity Away Games & Special Events Schedule
Since 2015, the Alumni Association of Lakehead University has been encouraging alumni to attend varsity women's and men's sporting events at venues in southern Ontario.
The Alumni and Annual Giving office provides tickets to the games and other swag—it's always gratifying to see the surprise of our alumni when we hand out branded Lakehead items as they enter arenas on game days. And the enthusiasm at varsity engagement events is continuing to grow. At many events, alumni arrive already sporting their Lakehead scarves, and cheers for Lakehead athletes often drown out the home team.
Thank you to all of our alumni for making our varsity engagement program a huge success!
This coming season there will be engagement events in Toronto, North Bay, Ottawa, Guelph, Waterloo, and Hamilton. Of course, there are many other games on the roster throughout the fall and winter, so if you can't make it to one of our hosted games, we encourage you to gather a group of friends and family and head to a game of your choice.
There was a time when Brenda Chapman (BA, English, 1977), author of more than 20 mystery novels and counting, wasn't sure that being a published author was feasible for her, even though storytelling and writing were part of her life from very early on.
As a young child, frequent family trips to the library made her a ferocious reader, partial to Enid Blyton mysteries. Brenda would create stories that she would act out with her dolls, and when grade school creative writing assignments came along, she would relish the imaginative opportunities they offered—she remembers one assignment that asked her to envision a desert island and everything on it. She never stopped reading or writing, and by the time she was in high school, she was composing poetry in her bedroom.
When Brenda was considering what to study at university, she thought about writing. Although she was accepted to Carleton University's journalism program, she decided to attend Lakehead University to pursue an English literature degree. At Lakehead, her love of writing didn't go away. If anything, a creative writing course made her realize that all the reading and writing she'd done in her life had given her an instinctive, firm grasp of story and sentence structure, but still she doubted herself.
"I didn't think I could become a writer," Brenda says. "It just didn't seem like I had it in me to do that kind of thing."
Some of that tentativeness came from growing up in Terrace Bay, Ontario, which had a population of around 2,000 at that point. Her small-town background made her question whether she had anything to contribute to her Lakehead classes. And while she credits Lakehead with instilling in her the confidence to stand out and do well, the dream to write continued to be deferred.
After graduating, Brenda went to teachers college at Queen's University, moved to Ottawa, and taught special education at a private school for 15 years. Approaching midlife, the urge to write never having disappeared, she made a choice.
"I thought, 'For the second half of my working life, I would like to write,'" she says.
From Pest Management to Mystery Thrillers
Brenda receives a certificate from Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe at her When Last Seen book launch in 2023.
Initially, Brenda took a half-step towards that goal, finding a government job as a writer-editor at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency that progressed into a communications career at Health Canada and the Department of Justice.
"It wasn't quite the kind of creative writing I had in mind," she laughs. But, outside of work hours, she began writing. She produced humorous articles for an Ottawa-centric parent magazine called Homebase, as well as short stories. Then, in 2001, one of her short stories was accepted and published in Canadian Living magazine. The editor phoned to tell her that "this is my favourite story that anyone has submitted."
"The feeling of someone reading and enjoying my stories confirmed for me that writing was what I wanted to do," she says.
Brenda resolved to write a novel. What genre to attempt didn't take long to settle on. She had remained an avid mystery reader ever since the Enid Blyton novels of her youth. What if she wrote a mystery for young kids?
The result was Running Scared, about a 13-year-old girl named Jennifer Bannon who investigates local mysteries adjacent to her life. As she was writing, Brenda would share chapters with her two daughters, who were then in elementary school.
One day, her younger daughter Julia came up to her and said, "Mommy, you write just like a real author."
Brenda decided to become one.
She submitted the completed novel to—among others—a small publisher called Napoleon & Company, which had an imprint specializing in crime fiction set in Canada. Even 20 years later, Sylvia McConnell, the former owner and publisher of Napoleon, remembers how easy it was to make the decision to accept Brenda's manuscript, which stood out for how fully formed it already was, and how little editing it needed.
"That's not always the case," says McConnell. "We jumped on her right away."
Brenda remembers that moment too. "When I got the email that they had accepted the manuscript, I was over the moon," she says. Brenda was on her way.
Brenda Hits the Big Time
Since Running Scared was published in 2004, Brenda has written 24 books, which have included three more Jennifer Bannon adventures, the popular seven-book Stonechild and Rouleau series with a female First Nations detective and her partner, and the current two books in the Hunter and Tate series, featuring a homicide detective working with a true crime podcaster.
She has been shortlisted for four Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence. And, in 2021, audiobook versions of two of Brenda's novels were among the top 10 most borrowed in the United Kingdom library system, with Cold Mourning sitting in second place behind J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
She's also written the eight-book Anna Sweet mystery series for Edmonton adult literacy publisher Grass Roots Press.
"The series garnered several award nominations," Brenda says, "but more importantly, I was delighted to write stories for adult learners after teaching reading to students with learning problems years earlier."
The path to Brenda's current level of success hasn't always been easy. She had a brief setback, for example, while writing her first mystery book for adults, In Winter's Grip. Her agent at the time advised her to set the novel in the United States, otherwise it wouldn't sell. It didn't feel right and, afterwards, Brenda swore to stay true to her roots and write about Canada—most of her mysteries are set in her longtime home of Ottawa or in neighbouring towns.
Reaching a place where she could more comfortably focus on her novels also didn't happen overnight.
"Until you're actually in the industry, you don't realize how tough it is, and how hard it is to make money," Brenda says. "I know a lot of authors who've written one or two books and dropped out because the remuneration for the amount of work is low, as is working on getting known."
Brenda considers herself fortunate that media coverage, word of mouth, social media promotion, store visits, and signings have given her a steadily growing readership. The act of writing, as is the case with many accomplished authors, remains a challenge.
"Someone said to me, 'I'm sure the last book is easier than the first. I said, 'No, they're all tough.' Every book is its own journey. You get in the middle of it, and you really don't know if it's any good. You start losing perspective, but I've learned to just go through that process and believe that the book will come out in the end," Brenda says.
Over the last nearly 20 years, Brenda's work has more than just "come out in the end." Among other things, critics have commended her for her plotting and narrative twists.
"I don't plot. I'm what you call a pantser—I fly by the seat of my pants," she confesses. "I know the ending, who did it, and the motive, but that's about all I know when I start writing."
A successful mystery-writing career isn't just about whodunnit skills, however.
"Readers aren't just interested in plot. They're interested in people," says McConnell. "Brenda does that very well."
Among critics, readers, and collaborators, Brenda's characters are a universal source of praise. Notably, the recurring characters that drive the Stonechild and Rouleau series, and now the Hunter and Tate books. Popularity in the mystery genre often depends on creating long-running characters, like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, and others.
"If you have a mystery that's complete in one book, that's nice, and then you put it down," says Beth Bruder, former vice president at Dundurn—the publisher of the Stonechild and Rouleau series. "But if you have character development in a series, then you're going to keep coming back for the next book. People like to learn about people."
Allister Thompson, an editor who worked on Brenda's earliest books and is now working with her again on the Hunter and Tate series, has seen how Brenda has honed that ability since her earlier novels.
"One of the things that she's bringing to the table now is the psychological aspect and the backstory of the characters' lives," he says.
Thriving in a Cutthroat Industry
Because of Thompson's unique experience collaborating with Brenda—at the start of her career and now nearly 20 years later—he has a particularly unique perspective on her development as a writer.
"There's a noticeable progression in her talents and skills. These last two books are amongst the best that I've edited," Thompson says.
Brenda with British crime writer Ann Cleeves—author of both the Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez detective series—at a book conference in Monterey, California, several years ago.
He has also noticed an increase in confidence, especially from a woman who once doubted whether she would pursue a writing career at all.
"Starting off, trying to get published, you don't have the confidence and the knowledge of the industry," he says. "Sustaining a lengthy career in this marketplace is not easy. The fact that she's managed to stay the course as long as she has, and continued to improve doing her best work now? It's really impressive."
What has remained unchanged is what drives the stories Brenda wants to tell. Early in her career, around the time of Running Scared, Brenda remembers asking herself, "Who is this geared towards?" She came up with an easy answer. "My preference is to write what I enjoy reading," she says.
That remains true, even as the loyal fanbase she has cultivated has expectations they hope, or expect, are met. Still, Brenda writes to answer one question: "Would I enjoy this?"
Looking back on her career—including the detours along the way—she is immensely grateful.
"I don't think it ever becomes something you take for granted. I feel privileged to be able to do this, and to have people reading my books."
As for the future? "I don't know how many more books I have in the bank, but I can't imagine not writing," she says. "I'll keep writing and see where it goes."
Derek Oger (BA’93/HBMus’98) is a Classical Music Leader
By Tracey Skehan
Photo Credit: Pexels/RDNE Stock Project
Elton John and country artists like Kenny Rogers were the soundtrack of Derek Oger's early childhood—his parents often played their albums on the family's record player. That changed at the age of seven when Derek began studying piano at Thunder Bay's Avila Music School and found his true passion, classical music.
His icons would become musical giants like Ludwig van Beethoven and Bela Bartok.
"Beethoven bridged the gap between the classical and the romantic periods of music," Derek says. "He composed for the growing middle class of the 1800s, instead of the aristocracy, and you can feel the social upheaval of the times in his music. Bartok, an early 20th-century Hungarian composer, had a fascination with folk music that led him to become one of the world's first ethno-musicologists. His work is filled with authentic ethnic nuances from the regions he visited."
Derek's connection to music was strengthened by the twice-weekly singing and ear training classes his elementary school offered.
"We were one of the last cohorts of students in the 1970s to have those programs available to us," Derek says.
He would go on to earn an Honours Bachelor of Music from Lakehead in 1998 and become an important advocate for classical music, especially since taking on the role of executive director of Conservatory Canada in 2014.
"Conservatory Canada fosters talent and potential in music through an accredited system of musical exams across Canada," Derek says. "Its roots go back to 1891 in Ontario."
Derek completed both a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and an Honours Bachelor of Music degree at Lakehead.
Derek has showcased his own musical talent with two solo performances with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and with performances in Lakehead University's Lumina Concert series and at venues around Northwestern Ontario. He also played on three tracks of a CD entitled First Recording featuring the work of New Music North, a collective organized by Lakehead music professors Dr. Aris Carastathis and Dr. Darlene Chepil Reid.
At this point in his career, though, Derek's primary focus is Conservatory Canada. As the Conservatory's director, he oversees the organization's marketing and administration work, develops curriculum, and trains examiners—something that entails travelling across the country to meet with teachers and conduct exams.
His teaching work, however, isn't confined solely to Conservatory Canada. Derek instructs students both at his own music studio and as a contract lecturer with Lakehead University's Department of Music. He finds it fulfilling to nurture young people's talent and love of music, while making it clear that the life of a musician isn't an easy one.
"You need a lot of determination and a willingness to be flexible and open to possibilities. Developing skills in other disciplines is crucial, too."
In return, his students are keen to share their musical discoveries with him.
"The nice thing about YouTube is that you can find all kinds of musical subgenres," Derek says. "My students are always bringing me new works that I'd never have heard of if they hadn't."
Still, classical music has the greatest power to move him.
"It gives us a glimpse into something beyond ourselves—beyond human existence. It's magical the way a piece of music will hit us, yet strike other people differently, and we don't know why."
The McPherson Family Doesn’t Let Anything Hold them Back
By Tracey Skehan
Dennis (Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy,1988/Honours Bachelor of Social Work, 1989/Honours Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy, 1993), Mary (Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2019), and Sarah (Honours Bachelor of Arts, English, 2020/Master of Arts, English, 2022)
Indigenous Learning Professor Dennis McPherson is always willing to take on tough challenges, especially if it makes First Nations communities stronger. That's why after 35 years of teaching at Lakehead, he started a Doctor of Law degree at Queen's University in September.
"Education is an investment," he says, "and once you have it, nobody can take it away from you. My wife Tracy and I, who's also a Lakehead professor, have been telling our daughters that since they were little."
His daughters have taken their advice to heart—Mary is commencing a Doctor of Law at Queen's along with her father, while Sarah is starting a PhD in Communication and Culture at the Toronto Metropolitan University. The three of them also hold multiple degrees from Lakehead.
"Getting our doctorates at the same time is a unique situation," Dennis says, "particularly since we're all status Indians."
He has maintained his fervent belief in education, even though the education system has often failed him. As a child, Dennis and his siblings attended St. Margaret's School on the Couchiching Reserve in Northern Ontario. It was a residential school that, like all of these institutions, had the aim of "killing the Indian in the child in order to save the man."
After one of his brothers was whipped by a teacher, Dennis's parents moved their children to a school in nearby Fort Frances, but this didn't spare them from racist treatment. In high school, Dennis remembers a career counsellor telling him, "Why am I bothering with you, you're just an Indian," prompting him to quit school.
Dennis had many jobs after that, including as a Native child protection worker in Couchiching in the hopes that he could curb the staggering number of Indigenous children being placed in foster care. When his employers thought Dennis was causing too many waves, they removed him from his job. This, it turned out, would be the start of a new chapter in his life.
"I went to Lakehead and walked into Philosophy Professor Dr. J. Douglas Rabb's office and asked if I could take a Native philosophy course. He told me that no such thing existed, so together we created the first Native philosophy course in Canada."
Dennis went on to complete degrees in philosophy and social work and played an instrumental role in founding Lakehead's Department of Indigenous Learning. He also started the first Master of Native Philosophy program in Canada. As an educator, Dennis provides insight into issues Indigenous communities are facing, and he's convinced that education is the key to overcoming entrenched problems like racism.
"Because Indians aren't in charge of their own education system, the average education level of people on reserves is about grade six—this is something that must change."
In the 1990s, Dennis completed Bachelor of Law and Master of Law degrees at the University of Ottawa to enhance his understanding of these issues and "to better comprehend who I am as an Indigenous person."
His PhD studies will continue this exploration.
"For the sake of both Native and non-Native people, we need to truthfully address Canada's history and the damage caused by the actions of the colonial and, later, the federal government."
His PhD dissertation will delve into this history, which he intends to develop into a university textbook.
The McPhersons are united in their efforts to end discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, which comes in many forms. "According to Canada's Indian Act, for instance, an Indian isn't allowed to own anything, and we don't have the legal ability to sign a contract," Dennis says. "If we make a will, it has to be approved by the Minister of Indian Affairs."
Mary and Sarah have been inspired by their father's example and are now activists in their own right. In high school, Mary was already using her art to agitate for change.
"Before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 2015 report about the Indian residential school system," Mary says, "discussions about this topic weren't as welcome, so I used my art to start conversations."
When Mary was still a 4th-year visual arts student at Lakehead, her artistic talent was recognized by the Royal Canadian Mint—they chose her design of Chief Tecumseh, the 19th-century Shawnee warrior, to display on a 2018 commemorative silver coin. Two years later, she created an image of the Battle of the Scheldt for a $20 silver coin.
"I based the soldier on the coin on an uncle of mine who was killed in action in World War Two. Ironically, he used the Ojibway language to send coded radio communications to allies—a language the Canadian government had banned him from using."
After getting her visual arts degree, Mary earned a law degree from the University of Ottawa to assist with the complex legal subjects she was examining in her art.
"I was trying to decipher land claims, government agreements, and the impact of the Indian Act."
Her Doctor of Law will focus on Indigenous people's connection to Canada's constitutional order.
"There's a lot of talk now about transitioning away from the Indian Act, but there's a risk of Indigenous people being treated as municipalities rather than as nations."
Once she's finished her PhD, Mary wants to use her knowledge to initiate community-based change, work that she plans to combine with her art.
Her younger sister Sarah is an equally talented artist who has chosen experimental photography as her medium.
"I started with digital photography, but I fell in love with film photography when my dad gave me his old Pentax camera," Sarah says.
She often uses a 'film soup' technique—soaking film in organic matter, or bleach, and burning away some of the emulsions because it is "a useful way to tell stories. It was extremely helpful when I was doing my undergraduate and master's degrees in English at Lakehead," Sarah says.
For her master's thesis, she interviewed the people of the Couchiching Reserve and took photographs of them—as well as the land and water—before soaking the undeveloped film in the contaminated water of Frog Creek, which runs through the community.
The goal was to explore both the effects of environmental devastation and community members' rootedness in the land. She's decided to get her Communication and Culture PhD because it will give her the freedom to continue her master's work.
"My plan is to teach Couchiching band members to document their own stories and take their own photos, which I will soak using the film soup technique. I want to extend the discussion about their integral relationship with the land."
Dennis, Mary, and Sarah McPherson are excited that they're embarking on the doctoral process together and the chance to share their perspectives with each other.
"It's really important for Indigenous people of any age to see what they're capable of doing," Sarah says. "Even though universities are settler institutions, we can still tell our own stories and learn and succeed in our own ways."
We have indeed been busy since the last issue of Journey magazine six months ago. The highlight of our spring was, as always, convocation. This past May and June we welcomed over 2,300 new graduates to the alumni family, and we're eager to start engaging with them and our over 70,000 alumni living and working all over the world.
That's why your Alumni Board and staff have been diligently planning many fantastic in-person and virtual events for the fall and winter, and we can't wait to get out there and meet you.
You may already have attended the Blue Jays game on September 14—which included a special event co-hosted by the GTA and Simcoe County Alumni Chapters—and received a special Blue Jays - Lakehead branded ball cap so that you can show your Lakehead for Life pride wherever you go.
Or you may have been at the Orillia Homecoming that ran from September 22 to 24 and participated in some of the in-person and virtual events that took place throughout Simcoe County. This was the first year that the Alumni Association hosted the Lakehead Celebrates – Alumni Honours Evening in Orillia. It was a wonderful occasion that honoured some truly special members of our family. Meanwhile, the Thunder Bay Homecoming on October 13 and 14 featured entertaining events planned by the Thunder Bay Chapter and heart-racing skating action by our Thunderwolves hockey team.
The Alumni Association's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 2 offered another opportunity to engage and, following the tradition of recent years, we were pleased to have a guest speaker as part of the event. The Rt. Hon. David Johnston—former Governor General of Canada—joined us for a compelling discussion of his two recent books, Trust: Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country and Empathy: Turning Compassion into Action.
In case you missed all the excitement of early fall, it doesn't end there. We have class reunions happening throughout the fall and the resumption of our Varsity Engagement Program (check out the away game schedule in this issue).
So . . . where will we see you this fall?
Yolanda Wanakamik, HBA'98/MEd'00 President, Alumni Association
Mark Tilbury, HBCom'94 Executive Director, Alumni Association
For the fourth year in a row, Lakehead is one of the top 200 global universities in the Times Higher Education 2023 Impact Rankings. These rankings measure universities' societal impact by evaluating their success in advancing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the United Nations describe as a "a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity."
Lakehead is the highest-ranked university in North America with fewer than 9,000 students and Canada's top-ranked primarily undergraduate university. The rankings have confirmed that Lakehead is a leading university when it comes to contributing to clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, elimination of hunger, reduced inequalities, good health and wellbeing, and sustainable life on land and below water. According to Lakehead Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. David Barnett, "this ranking represents the hard work and dedication put forth by our faculty, staff, students, and alumni."
Northern and Rural Innovation Cluster
Lakehead has partnered with Laurentian, Nipissing, and Trent universities to create a northern and rural innovation cluster focused on critical minerals, cleantech, and electric vehicles. "We are well positioned for this partnership," said Lakehead Director of Innovation Development Ellen MacKay. "Lakehead has research and development strength in critical minerals through the hiring of two new research chairs in critical mineral processing and exploration and in the continued work of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration." The initiative was prompted by the release of the Government of Ontario's Critical Minerals Strategy in 2022. The strategy includes a commitment to building a network that will foster collaboration between industry and academia in order to support innovation from early-stage discovery to commercialization. Laurentian is leading the cluster, which will identify the essential components required to transform the province into a leading producer of critical minerals such as lithium, copper, graphite, nickel, cobalt, and tin. Intellectual Property Ontario is providing $2 million in funding for seven projects proposed by 10 postsecondary institutions across the province.
International Research Conference
In June 2023, Lakehead hosted the C2UExpo—Community-College-University-Exposition—and welcomed approximately 350 conference delegates to the Thunder Bay campus. Seventy-five per cent of the attendees came from outside Northwestern Ontario, travelling from places as far away as New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, the United States, and South Africa. The theme of C2UExpo 2023 was "Connected Communities. Collective Change." and the purpose was to help delegates learn the fundamentals of community-based research and how to engage in meaningful research relationships with Indigenous communities.
The exposition brought together community-based organizations, Indigenous groups, researchers, students, grassroots organizations, policymakers, and knowledge mobilization experts. "This exposition will be of interest to anyone who is passionate about the power of collaboration to co-create positive societal changes in our communities," said Lakehead VP Research and Innovation Andrew Dean when the conference was announced.
Electrical Engineering Accreditation
Lakehead's Department of Electrical Engineering, which was established in 1974, offers excellent undergraduate and graduate education and research opportunities. Now, the electrical engineering program has received the maximum possible accreditation from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). "We are very proud to receive this latest approval from our regulatory body," said Dean of Engineering Dr. Janusz Kozinski. "It celebrates our commitment to delivering high-quality professional programs that are academically rigorous and align with the needs of industry." Students who receive a degree from an accredited engineering program meet the academic requirements needed to become licensed with Canada's engineering regulators. With the recent CEAB review, Lakehead's electrical engineering program is accredited for a full six years, up to June 30, 2029.
Improving Students' Mental Health
This past spring, academics, students, and mental-health professionals attended Lakehead's inaugural Applied Self-Regulation Knowledge (ASK) Conference. "Self-regulation is the ability to remain calmly focused and alert during times of stress, and we're applying that knowledge to a multitude of situations," said Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo, a Lakehead education professor and ASK's director of research, in an interview with Orillia Matters on May 9, 2023. Dr. Mastrangelo helped organize the conference, which took place on the Orillia campus, to enable professionals to discuss ways to improve the mental health of postsecondary students in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The social isolation and the shift to online learning caused by the pandemic took a serious toll on students' wellbeing and led to a rise in rates of depression and anxiety. The problem was further compounded by disruptions to their education and the cancellation of enriched learning experiences including travel opportunities, laboratory courses, fieldwork, and learning exchanges. Self-regulation methods are one way that students can counter negative mental health issues.
Climate Action Park Opens
Lakehead opened a Climate Action Park on its Thunder Bay campus in June 2023 to help restore aquatic habitat along the shoreline of the McIntyre River, improve stormwater management through Low Impact Development (LID) techniques, raise awareness of the climate crisis, and create a place for connection and learning. The McIntyre River is one of four major tributaries in Lake Superior's urban watershed, and stormwater from the Lakehead campus has a significant impact on this watershed. "Addressing the impacts of cumulative contaminants in our urban runoff is a priority for the health of our rivers and Lake Superior," said Geography and the Environment Professor Rob Stewart.
The development of the Climate Action Park was led by the Office of Sustainability, the Lake Superior Living Labs Network, and the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan. It has also been funded and supported by the Great Lakes Local Action Fund, the World Wildlife Fund Canada, EarthCare Thunder Bay, and many Lakehead departments and faculties.
Indigenous Education and Math Conference
Over 160 participants attended a two-day conference in April entitled Wiidookaadying Gikinoomaagewin: Gindaaswin Kendaasiwin (Relationships and Reciprocity: Indigenous Mathematics and Education Conference). The conference was held on the Lakehead Orillia campus and was attended by community Elders, knowledge keepers, educators, and administrators from across the province. It was organized to discuss the First Nations & Métis Math Voices Project—a long-term initiative being offered in Ontario elementary and secondary classrooms. The conference was also a forum to develop relationships and share knowledge about connections between Ontario's math curriculum and the mathematics inherent in Indigenous technology, design, and artistry. Attendees explored how to incorporate Indigenous pedagogical approaches that align with current mathematics instruction and how to create more inclusive classrooms. Conference programming included workshops on hairbone pipe bracelets, looming, and birch bark baskets. Although the conference focused on mathematics instruction, participants and organizers also discussed how this work could be extended more broadly in education.
Goldich Medal Winner
Dr. Peter Hollings received the Goldich Medal Award from the Institute on Lake Superior Geology for his outstanding contributions to the geology of the Lake Superior region. Dr. Hollings is the director of Lakehead University's Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration (CESME) and the NOHFC industrial research chair in mineral exploration. "Since starting at Lakehead University over 20 years ago, I have been fascinated by the geology of the Midcontinent Rift and have been working with colleagues and students to better understand how it formed," he said. One of his areas of research is the application of geochemistry and petrology to locate ore deposits, including at the Lac des Iles Mine and the Thunder Bay North igneous complex. He works with a wide range of industry partners such as Wesdome, Goldshore, Nighthawk Gold, and Evolution. As CESME director, Dr. Hollings helps lead the discovery and exploration of natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way.
Two Lakehead Orillia professors have released new books. Faculty of Business Administration Chair Dr. Olakunle Akingbola is one of the authors of Employee Engagement in Nonprofit Organizations: Theory and Practice examines the antecedents, dimensions, and consequences of employee engagement. Specifically, it untangles the theory and practice of employee engagement in nonprofit organizations and provides evidence-based context-specific models. Included alongside the discussion of theoretical aspects are concrete examples of how to develop, implement, and manage employee engagement in nonprofit employment relations and human resources practices.
Dr. Les Fleischer, director of the School of Social Work Orillia, is a contributing author to Underlying Assumptions in Psychoanalytic Schools: A Comparative Perspective. This book investigates the major schools of psychoanalysis by exploring their historical development, their differences and similarities, and the underlying assumptions made by each. Dr. Fleischer contributed the chapter entitled "American Ego Psychology." Underlying Assumptions is aimed at psychoanalytic practitioners and students of psychoanalysis and the history of medicine.
Social Studies Festival
The theme of the fourth annual Social Studies Festival held in March on the Orillia campus was "Our Relationship with the Land." Organized by the Faculty of Education, the festival gave education students in their final year of study the chance to consider their teaching pedagogies. One of the goals, says Professor Sharla Mskokii Peltier, "was to engage pre-service teachers in thinking about citizenship and social studies education in relational ways of being with the lands and waters." To foster this engagement, students took part in activities such as a hike to Mnjikaning Fish Weirs National Historic Site. "Spending time on the land and learning about its histories, including Indigenous contributions, is so important so that people can bring that into their teaching and really feel it with their hearts and their spirits," added Professor Peltier. The festival was inspired by the desire to help students develop a more critical, global, and post-colonial view of the world.
2023 Women's Health Scholars Award
Doctoral student Erika Puiras has received a 2023 Ontario Women's Health Scholars award for her research into the potential mental health consequences caused by the stigma that individuals face when they choose to be "childfree." Over the next year, Puiras plans to engage with over 1,000 childfree women across Canada and the United States through questionnaires and in-depth interviews to learn more about their journey. As part of her dissertation, she is studying how stigma—including negative societal messages and discrimination—affects women's mental health, overall wellbeing, and trust in health-care systems that have historically stigmatized them. Puiras, who is enrolled in Lakehead's clinical psychology program, says: "If there's one takeaway from the research we've completed so far, the message from childfree women is that 'our worth as people and our worth as women is not based on our decision to have children.'" The annual Women's Health Scholars Awards are funded by the Ontario government in recognition of groundbreaking women's health research and are administered by the Council of Ontario Universities.
Heather Harris (HBA'99/BEd'04/MEd'20) has left her position as principal of École Elsie MacGill Public School in Thunder Bay to become a superintendent of education with the Lakehead District School Board. In her new role, which she assumed in August 2023, Heather is responsible for the Early Years Education portfolio, and she is looking forward to creating academic programs, initiatives, and supports to foster high levels of personal and academic excellence among students. During Heather's previous career with Lakehead Public Schools, she served as the vice-principal of McKellar Park Central Public School, principal of Kakabeka Falls Public School, and a capital planning officer.
Robert (Rob) Ritchie (BAdm'91, Marketing) was named Ingredion Incorporated's senior vice -president, food and industrial ingredients, Americas in May 2023. Ingredion is a leading global provider of ingredient solutions for the food and beverage industry. Rob will lead the company's North American and South American food and industrial ingredients businesses and serve on Ingredion's executive leadership team. He joined the company in 1996 as an area director in Canada and has held roles of increasing responsibility within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In 2018, Rob was appointed president and general director of Mexico. In addition to his Bachelor of Administration degree from Lakehead, Rob has a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University in Chicago.
Kate Wannan (BA'98, Anthropology) lives in Elliot Lake, Ontario, where she is the coach of the girls' wrestling team at Elliot Lake Secondary School. In February 2023, Kate's skills helped send three students to the Ontario Winter Games in Renfrew County. Kate began wrestling in 1993 and was a member of Elliot Lake's first girls' team. She wrestled throughout high school and at Lakehead University where she was part of the 1999-2000 Lakehead team that won the Ontario University Athletic Championships. Kate is also a sustainable tourism consultant and the CEO of Ecolibrium Adventures—an adventure tourism company dedicated to bringing new worlds and cultures to clients in a sustainable and harmonious manner.
Terry-Lynn Johnson (HBA'06/BEd'07/MEd'12) has released her second collection of poetry entitled Driftwood Tones: Nature Poetry of Beauty & Presence, published by Waterside Productions, in June 2023. Terry-Lynn is a modern romantic poet who, as a mature student, graduated from Lakehead with an English degree in 2006 before earning Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees. Driftwood Tones includes a foreword by Lakehead Professor Emeritus Philip Allingham who says, "simple diction, unrhymed verse, natural scenes enshrined in simple yet moving language—that is what Terry-Lynn Johnson's slender volume is all about." She started writing poetry at the age of 12, and she and her husband, a professional musician, perform acoustic music and poetry together. Find out more about Terry-Lynn's work at www.lakeheadpoet.com and be sure to attend the Friday, September 29 launch of Driftwood Tones happening at 7 pm at the Howl at the Moon coffee bar in Thunder Bay.
Holly Prince (HBSW'03/MSW'05) received the 2023 Inclusion Vanguard Award from the Women's Executive Network (WXN) at WXN's annual Canadian Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award Summit. Holly is an Anishinaabekwe and a member of Opwaaganisiniing in Northwestern Ontario. She leads the Indigenous Peoples' Health and Aging Division at Lakehead University's Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health, where she has spent 20 years advancing the right of Indigenous Peoples to access culturally appropriate and equitable palliative care. Holly is also the project lead of the Canadian Virtual Hospice and a national champion of human rights and dignity for people at the end of life, as well as an Educational Studies PhD student at Lakehead.
Zahid (Zee) Javed (HBCom'14) is a human resources and finance professional based in Orillia, Ontario. He was hired as a regional financial coordinator with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in November 2021. In this role, he's responsible for managing a $135-million budget, coordinating procurement plans, and ensuring that the OPP's service delivery model is followed by detachment staff and clerks. While completing his commerce degree, Zee was an international student advisor with Lakehead University International and a young professionals engagement coordinator with SHIFT—Thunder Bay's Young Professionals Network.
Maura Kolb (MSc'11, Geology) became president of Dryden Gold Corp. in April 2023, and, in this role, is responsible for leading all exploration efforts. Dryden Gold is a privately held company with extensive property holdings in the Dryden District of Northwestern Ontario. Maura is a professional geologist with 15 years of experience in mining and exploration and a member of the board of the Northwestern Ontario chapter of Women in Mining. Before joining Dryden Gold, she was Treasury Metals' director of exploration. She also spent eight years with Goldcorp, Newmont, Evaluation, and Battle North leading geology and exploration for mine sites and regional exploration work.
Rebecca Luck (BEd'15) was appointed director of library services by the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (SDG) Library Board in June 2023. SDG is an Ontario municipality near the Quebec border. Rebecca, who is from Glengarry, worked in the Greater Toronto Area and taught in the United Kingdom before assuming her new role. In addition to a Bachelor of Education from Lakehead University, she has a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from McGill University. The library board was attracted to Rebecca's diverse background in engineering, teaching, and international experience. As the director of library services, Rebecca will increase engagement, build innovative partnerships, and enhance the library experience of all patrons.
Michele Solomon (BA'17, Indigenous) has been elected the chief of the Fort William First Nation (FWFN), located on the edge of Lake Superior near Thunder Bay. Prior to becoming chief in May 2023, Michele served as a FWFN councillor. In addition to her role as chief, she is the community development manager of the Ontario Native Women's Association. Michele has a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies from Lakehead and a Social Service Worker diploma from Confederation College. Her main areas of expertise are mental health and addictions, acquired through her work as a team leader and manager with Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and manager of the White Cedar Health Centre in Thunder Bay.
Shivam Khurania (HBCom'21, Accounting) is a full-time financial analyst with the First Nations Financial Management Board in Vancouver and a certified public accountant (CPA) candidate who has completed forensic accounting, anti-money laundering, and financial crime training through the TWELVE Financial Crime Program. Shivam is also a part-time instructor at Canadian College, Bodwell High School, and ILAC College, where he provides insights and guidance to aspiring accounting and finance professionals. In addition, Shivam is a growth, governance, and expansion advisor at Xinerva Technologies, a Dallas-based fintech startup.
Tiffany Reynolds (HBK'21) is a guard with the Nova Scotia basketball team Windsor Edge, which is part of the Maritime Women's Basketball League (MWBA). Tiffany was recruited to the MWBA in 2022, the league's inaugural season, after a stellar career with Lakehead's varsity women's basketball team where she served as team captain. The MWBA has more than one Lakehead connection—one of Tiffany's Windsor Edge teammates during the first season was fellow Lakehead alumna Karissa Kajorinne and the MWBA's commissioner is Tasia McKenna, another Lakehead alumna and former basketball player. Tiffany is enjoying the large crowds and enthusiastic fans that the Windsor Edge's games have been drawing.
Steven (Steve) Lankin (BSc'90/HBSc'90/BEd'91) passed away on April 27, 2023, at the age of 63. Steve was an adventurer who travelled the world—including Egypt, Germany, Italy, England, and Israel. To finance his trips, he took jobs overseas and worked at chemical plants in southern Ontario. He also planted trees in Northwestern Ontario, which led him to attend Lakehead where he earned a Bachelor of Science and an Honours Bachelor of Science in Chemistry as well as a Bachelor of Education. Steve enjoyed the people he met in the University's science and engineering departments, especially Professor Declan Barry. After graduation, Steve worked as a chemist at Ogilvie Mills and as a teacher with Lakehead Public Schools in Thunder Bay. Steve is remembered as a man with a strong back and an open mind who never felt out of place in the world.
Marianne (née Evetts) Wahl (BA'77, English) passed away on June 1, 2023, at the age of 90. Marianne was born in England and received a National Diploma in Design and a Master of Art Design from the Rylands Memorial School of Art in West Bromwich. In 1957, Marianne married Karl Wahl and the couple moved near Beardmore, Ontario. While there, Marianne and her art group designed Beardmore's iconic 35-foot-tall snowman. Later, she worked as an art teacher at the Fort William Collegiate Institute high school in Thunder Bay and as a cartographer in Lakehead University's geography department. In 1977, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in English at Lakehead. Marianne was an active member of the Cambrian Players theatre company and a gifted author and illustrator who published several books.
What do irreversible brain damage and an increased risk of psychosis and depression have in common?
Adolescents who regularly use cannabis are at a greater risk of developing these mental health disorders as well as being involved in car accidents—which is the leading cause of death among young people.
Dr. Deborah Scharf, a Lakehead University clinical and health psychologist, is one of many health researchers who's worried about what's been happening to Canadian teenagers since the sale of cannabis was legalized in 2018.
"Since youngsters aren't brand affiliated, cannabis companies have been aggressively marketing to them with the intention of persuading kids that cannabis will have a positive effect on them. The end goal is to make them lifelong consumers of their products," she says. And these companies appear to be succeeding. "Cannabis is everywhere, and adolescents believe it's less harmful than alcohol and other drugs."
She points to research summarized by the American Pediatrics Association which shows that in all the hype about the purported benefits of cannabis, its negative effects on young people—whose brains aren't fully developed until they're 25—are often ignored.
"Legalization has led to increased recreational cannabis use, especially among people aged 15-34," says Chelsea Noël, a Lakehead PhD student and Dr. Scharf's research coordinator. "Moreover, it has resulted in the proliferation of new modes of cannabis use (such as 'dabbing' and vaping extracts) and the consumption of diverse forms of cannabis such as edibles, THC oils, chocolate, baked goods, and gummies."
Before coming to Lakehead, Dr. Scharf worked at the RAND corporation—an American non-profit, non-partisan policy research institute—where she studied the negative effects of cigarette and alcohol marketing designed to encourage adolescents to smoke and drink.
This is occurring even though the Canadian Cannabis Act clearly states that advertising aimed at children and teenagers is prohibited and that all advertising must be neutral.
"Ads featuring bright colours, animals, and cartoons, or that focus on cannabis consumption as an appealing lifestyle choice, are illegal," Dr. Scharf says.
She and her research team recently investigated how cannabis advertising is affecting14 to 18-year-olds.
"The Cannabis Act is supposed to prevent cannabis advertisements from appearing in areas where they're visible to youth under the age of 18, so we designed a study in which Thunder Bay youth documented instances of cannabis advertising in their daily lives," explains Dr. Scharf's research assistant, Chris Armiento.
Dr. Scharf's team assumed that adolescents would be exposed to cannabis advertising primarily through digital ads because this is a space where government regulations are lax. They were surprised to learn, however, that the majority of ads viewed by young people came in the form of billboards and the signage of the brick-and-mortar cannabis stores that have sprouted up across Thunder Bay.
These physical ads dominate young people's cannabis advertising experiences because Ontario has the most lenient laws in Canada when it comes to the sale of cannabis products.
"We have 20 times the density of cannabis stores compared to other provinces," Dr. Scharf says. "In Quebec, for example, only one cannabis store per 100,000 people is permitted to operate—in Thunder Bay, we have one store per 5,000-6,000 people."
The teens participating in Dr. Scharf's study used a smartphone app to record images of the cannabis ads they encountered in their natural environment, as well as their reaction to being exposed to these ads.
"We mapped both the geographic locations where teens reported seeing cannabis advertisements and common locations frequented by youth—such as malls, movie theatres, and schools," Armiento says.
"What we discovered is that the highest density of cannabis stores is within 300 to 500 metres of places where teens hang out," Armiento says. "In other words, not only are teens being exposed to these advertisements, but they're being exposed to them in the places they visit most often."
And what are the consequences of all this cannabis advertising?
"As predicted, we found that teens' intention to use cannabis after seeing youth-appealing cannabis ads really went up," Noël says. "These ads significantly increased their intention to use cannabis."
They were further disheartened to find no cases of the government prosecuting cannabis ad violations in court. In fact, instead of tightening restrictions, "the province is loosening existing advertising regulations in an effort to steer people away from buying black market cannabis," Dr. Scharf says.
The researchers are similarly concerned that the legal age for cannabis consumption in Ontario is 19.
"This was entirely a business decision made because it coincides with the drinking age and because it generates more money than a higher—and safer—age limit would," Dr. Scharf says.
Teens have a Target on their Backs
Her team would like to counteract what is becoming an epidemic with evidence-based approaches to preventing underage cannabis use.
"This includes providing accurate information to youth and implementing comprehensive regulatory measures—such as a complete ban on all cannabis advertising and the early implementation of effective advertising regulations," Noël says. "Without strict, science-based laws and prevention strategies, research shows that early, frequent cannabis use and the use of high strength and multiple types of cannabis products could result in more problematic use and harms."
Cannabis sellers are not only contravening rules against advertising to adolescents, but they're also violating a government ban against selling cannabis products that appeal to children, as can be seen in the cherry-flavoured cannabis products above.
Dr. Scharf's research team has partnered with the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy to raise awareness about cannabis use by local teens. They have also presented their findings at national and international meetings where representatives from other jurisdictions are deciding how to regulate cannabis advertising and sales.
"Decades of research on alcohol and tobacco have shown us that government public health spending will struggle to keep up with the deep pockets and the seductive marketing of cannabis sellers," Dr. Scharf says. "The cannabis lobby is extremely powerful and there is so much money to be made."
"Discuss how they're being targeted through advertising and let them know that celebrities are being paid to promote cannabis products."
Dr. Scharf would also like to see broader societal conversations about the dangers of cannabis use for young people.
"Decisions are being made by governments and cannabis retailers that are having a negative impact on the health of our children, and parents and community agencies are being left to pick up the pieces."
If you'd like to donate to research aimed at preventing adolescents from using cannabis, please visit lakeheadu.ca/donate and designate your gift to: BRANCHES Research Lab.
"I want to give back to the university that's given so much to me," says Dr. Gillian Siddall, Lakehead's new president and vice-chancellor.
"My Lakehead story began in 1998 when I accepted a position as an English professor before becoming the founding director of the Teaching and Learning Centre and, ultimately, the dean of our Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities for six years."
On July 1, 2023, Dr. Siddall commenced her tenure as Lakehead's eighth president—and our first president with a humanities background. Her area of research is Canadian literature, and she says that one of her favourite works is Ann-Marie MacDonald's novel Fall on Your Knees.
"It's an epic story about a troubled family in Nova Scotia that takes on issues of inter-generational abuse, racism, sexism, and homophobia, as well as the healing and generative effects of improvised music."
Dr. Siddall has an HBA and an MA in English from the University of Guelph and a PhD in English from the University of Western Ontario. Jazz is an equally important part of her life and work—she says that two of her favourite songs are "Lush Life" by Billy Strayhorn and "St. Thomas" by Sonny Rollins.
Her research also focuses on musical improvisation—both within and outside literary contexts—and she's a talented jazz vocalist, choral singer, and co-founder of the Guelph Jazz Festival.
"I love the way jazz, particularly improvised jazz music, relies on collaboration and collective listening and music-making," Dr. Siddall says. "It can be surprising, affirming, humorous, and moving. Musicians and listeners alike can move outside of conventional modes of thought and expression, and that can lead to productive change."
This gives her a unique approach to the decision-making process—an ensemble ethos with the aim of fostering greater engagement and increased support for Lakehead.
Dr. Siddall has successfully used this method in her previous roles as the vice-president, academic and provost of the Ontario College of Art and Design University from 2015-18 and in her most recent position as the president of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
"I believe in the skills and talents of each person and recognize that our collective contributions inevitably exceed our individual work and performance," Dr. Siddall explains.
She similarly believes that universities can help create positive change by addressing the major challenges of our time.
"Profound transformation is necessary to address huge global problems including the climate catastrophe and social and economic inequalities," she said in the How I Lead Change podcast in 2022.
Despite these challenges, Dr. Siddall is confident that Lakehead will advance its priorities in reconciliation, climate action, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and excellence in research, teaching, and learning.
"There is so much to build on," she says. "In addition to our strong international presence and stellar research record, Lakehead gives students a small university experience combined with an incredibly diverse array of programs. For me, Lakehead is a really magical place."
Dr. Siddall, her partner Laurel, and their golden retrievers Maisie and Callum spent the summer reuniting with friends and family. It was also a productive period during which Dr. Siddall met with members of Lakehead Orillia and Lakehead Thunder Bay as well as members of the Fort William First Nation and the Rama First Nation—on whose territories our two campuses are located—and community organizations throughout these regions.
"I've missed being here," Dr. Siddall says. "The opportunity to return to Lakehead has filled me with purpose and joy."
D. H. Gordon Foundation: Furthering Access to Justice in the North
Long before the establishment of the D.H. Gordon Foundation Award, David H. Gordon was contributing to the success of future legal practitioners. As part of his 35-year practice in corporate law, he took on the responsibility of mentoring law students, underscoring his belief in the importance of practical education and support for students grappling with new challenges in a large law firm.
"After David passed, many of those students came to say how much they appreciated him making time for them," says Jim Parrott, David's nephew and one of the original trustees of the D.H. Gordon Foundation.
David established the Foundation in 2004 with the aim of helping to improve the lives of others. Under David's direction, the trustees established a list of charities addressing issues that had a personal impact on David and his family. The list included prostate cancer research, as David's father had died of the disease. It also included the Heart and Stroke Foundation, as his mother had died of a heart attack.
After David's passing in 2006, Jim took on the informal role of Chair, and the trustees and team began looking to add to the list of charities, including students in the North, since David had grown up in Northern Ontario.
"Our trust officer said Lakehead University was establishing a law school," Jim says. "That aligned with our wish to support students in the North."
The Foundation has assisted students in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law since its opening in 2013 and has awarded $155,000, with all funds going toward the D.H. Gordon Foundation Award. One of the most coveted awards at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, it began with one student recipient and has grown over the last 10 years to help three students enrolled in the Faculty of Law, based on financial need and a minimum 80% average.
One of this year's three recipients attests to the impact of the award.
"I am very pleased to be a recipient of your generous and substantial award," says 2023 law graduate Elliot McPhail. "Thank you for helping to relieve the financial burden of pursuing a legal education. It is thanks to the generosity of donors like yourselves that this institution exists here! With its combination of high-quality teaching, the integrated practice curriculum, and the practical placement, the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law has positioned me well to embark on a rewarding legal career."
The D.H. Gordon Foundation is also committed to advancing Indigenous concerns. This aligns with the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law's commitment to work closely with local First Nations communities and Indigenous organizations and to make Aboriginal and Indigenous law one of its curriculum mandates.
Faculty of Law Dean Dr. Jula Hughes also recognizes the Foundation's invaluable contributions.
"The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law expresses its utmost gratitude to the D.H. Gordon Foundation for their continued support of our program and our remarkable students. The generous annual awards supported by the Foundation enable our students to lessen the financial burden of law school and direct their focus toward meaningful advocacy and study, furthering our commitment to access to justice."
The D.H. Gordon Foundation continues to have a real and positive impact on law students and ensures David Gordon's lasting influence in an area he valued highly.