Director's Message | Spring 2023

Exciting Times for Alumni

Unveiling the plaque commemorating the Betty C. Coates Boardroom

Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday that we were writing a Directors' Message for the fall edition of Journey, and then here we are on the doorstep of spring!

So much has happened since our last update, and we've chosen a few highlights below:

The Association's third Virtual Annual General Meeting on October 11, 2022, was by far our biggest yet, with over 100 participants. Many thanks to now Past President Karen Boz for expertly navigating her second virtual AGM and to Anna Gagliardi for keeping the tech running smoothly in the background. Our guest speaker, Dr. Lana Ray, spoke on the work she is initiating as Lakehead's Indigenous Research Chair in Decolonial Futures. Her talk was both engaging and thought provoking.

Also in October were the first in-person Homecoming events at both Lakehead Thunder Bay and Lakehead Orillia since the pandemic. The Alumni Board of Directors (and chapter presidents) were able to travel to the Thunder Bay campus to congratulate our award recipients and hold their annual planning retreat.

Our Lakehead Celebrates – Alumni Honours Evening took place on Friday evening during Thunder Bay's Homecoming weekend, which recognized two of our recent Honorary Doctorates (HDs). Attending in person were alumni award recipients Liz Murray, Daniel Blekkenhorst, and Laird van Damme. Melissa Reckmann, Tasia McKenna, and Thomas Doherty sent acceptance videos. HD recipients Dr. Lyn McLeod and Dr. Karl Subban were also in attendance.

The final highlight of the weekend was a special rededication ceremony of the Betty C. Coates Boardroom. Betty Coates, a former Alumni Association president, was instrumental in the fundraising campaign that allowed the University to purchase the Avila Centre from the Sisters of St. Joseph. Avila served as Alumni House's home for 26 years until we relocated to 1294 Balmoral Street. This was our first opportunity to rededicate the space in Betty's honour in our new location. Members of her family, as well as family friends, attended the ceremony.

November 29 was a big day on our annual calendar. A huge debt of gratitude to all alumni who made Giving Tuesday 2022 an even greater success than our previous high-water mark in 2021. We established a modest goal of $108,000 and exceeded it by more than double, raising a record $260,842.05 for Lakehead students and initiatives. The Alumni Association Board of Directors continued to lead by example, achieving a 100% participation rate.

And last, but not least, we were able to restart our Varsity Engagement program after a pandemic hiatus. It was amazing to be on the road with our talented and hardworking varsity athletes, and to see so many dedicated alumni and friends join us in the stands. The coaches and players all tell us how much your presence and support means to them when they're playing so far from Thunder Bay. We look forward to seeing you in the bleachers next year.

Take care, talk soon, and stay safe.

Yolanda Wanakamik, HBA'98/MEd'00
President, Alumni Association

Mark Tilbury, HBCom'94
Executive Director, Alumni Association

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