Indigenous Initiatives Orillia Campus

Student Services

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives offers a variety of services, connections to resources and referrals for all students. As part of the Orillia Student Affairs team, we work collaboratively with other Orillia campus services to meet your specific needs.


student typing on laptop in Aboriginal Initiatives office

Individual Support

Contact the Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator to connect with a network of support and build a personalized plan to suit your goals/needs at

UPDATE: To book an appointment for online counselling with Sheryl O'Reilly, Indigenous Student Counsellor. Contact or (807) 228-3420

speaker talking to group seated in a circle

Language and Culture

Everyone from all backgrounds is welcome to attend gatherings and workshops advertised in our events calendar. All language and cultural gatherings are family-friendly with no experience necessary.  

four traditional medicines in bowls

Visiting Elders

UPDATE: Pop-Up Indigenous Resource Centre has temporarily moved online. Contact us or check the calendar to see upcoming dates. Traditional medicines can be accessed in the Maawnjigamig Academic Success Zone (OR1013, Residence Building) or the Alumni Commons (2nd Floor, Simcoe Hall).

Elders and Knowledge Keeper Request Form

scholarships and awards for indigenous students

Financial Aid

There are hundreds of scholarships, bursaries, and awards available through the Lakehead MyAwards Portal and external sources. Our advice? Apply, apply, apply!

Indigenous Scholarships & Awards

Indigenous Teaching Resources

The resources included within this website have been compiled to support Lakehead Orillia's Faculty of Education teacher candidates with infusing Indigenous Knowledges and pedagogies into their teaching practice and engaging their students in cross-curricular learning about/with Indigenous Peoples. This website includes multimedia resources that are geared toward the primary/junior division.

Tipi poles during sunrise


The Office of Indigenous Initiatives is active in all Lakehead University Orillia Campus buildings. 

Residence Building (OR)

lakehead residence building

Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OR1019)
student typing on laptop in Aboriginal Initiatives office

Located on the 1st floor of the Residence Building, past the elevators in the Student Affairs/Social Work hallway, our office is a designated safe space for smudging. Meet with the Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator to create a personalized plan and network of support to suit your goals/needs or arrange to meet with an elder.

Maawnjigamig Academic Success Zone (OR1013)
kitchenette area of Maawnjigamig Academic Support Zone

"The Zone" is located on the 1st floor of the Residence Building, past the elevators in the Student Affairs/Social Work hallway. This is a designated safe space for smudging and where you can access the kitchenette (fridge, microwave, coffee, tea and snacks). Occasionally we use this space for gatherings and activities.

Wellness Centre
Lakehead Orillia Wellness Centre

Also located on the 1st floor of the Residence Building in the Student Affairs/Social Work hallway, the wellness centre is occasionally utilized by Indigenous Initiatives as a confidential space for students to meet with an elder.

Simcoe Hall (OA)

Lakehead Simcoe Hall Building

Alumni Commons
alumni commons couches

Located on the 2nd Floor of Simcoe Hall Building, the Alumni Commons is a designated safe space for smudging and where students have 24/7 access to traditional medicines and tobacco tie supplies. For access outside of regular business hours, please see our friends in Security on the 1st floor beside Student Central where they can remotely open the door.

Heritage Place
heritage place campus building

Traditional smudging takes place at our Heritage Place campus by request with at least two days' notice. Please contact the Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator for support. 

For more information about smudging on campus, please view our policy.

Wiigwasitig Gitigaan "Birch Tree Garden"
Medicine Garden with Tipi in background

The Wiigwasitig Gitigaan is lovingly named after the paper birch tree which looks to the four directions. This area is located behind the Simcoe Hall building and is open for everyone to enjoy and contribute with guidance. We are especially grateful to the students of the Lakehead Farm Club, Orillia Native Women's Group Ambe Tigadaw program, and all volunteers who help to maintain this beautiful space. For more information or to arrange for a visit with your class, please contact the Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator. The Wiigwasitig Gitigaan includes: 

Medicine Wheel Teaching Garden 

Ambe Tigadaw Three Sisters Garden 

Tipi and Fire Pit 

Community Gardens 

Our friends at the City of Orillia also run the Allotment Garden within this area. Individuals and families register for a numbered raised bed in the early spring through the City of Orillia Community Gardens Coordinator. More information is posted here:


Orillia Campus Team

Pathways to Wellness

Indigenous Initiatives Orillia contact:
Mercedes Jacko, she/they
[Pronounced: mr-SAY-deez JOCK-o]
Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator 
Office of Indigenous Initiatives
Lakehead University
Orillia Campus

t: 705-330-4010 ext. 2018
Are you ok? 

Need to talk to someone right now?

  • Good 2 Talk is a free, confidential 24/7 post-secondary student helpline. Call 1-866-925-5454 or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868. 

  • Hope for Wellness is a free and confidential helpline for Indigenous peoples.1-855-242-3310 or chat online.

  • Talk4Healing is a culturally-grounded confidential helpline for Indigenous women. Call 1-855-554-HEAL, text or chat online.

  • Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support for our community; run by and for trans people. Call (877) 330-6366.

  • The Residential School Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 1-866-925-4419

  • For emergencies or a mental health crisis, please call Simcoe County Crisis Line at 705-728-5044 or 1-888-893-8333. Or visit your nearest emergency services department and/or call 9-1-1.