Vice-Provost of Aboriginal Initiatives
Lakehead University has named Denise Baxter as its new Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives effective October 30, 2017. Denise previously held the position of the Principal of Adult and Continuing Education at Lakehead District School Board. She is completing her PhD in Equity and Indigenous Education at York University. As an established education leader, Denise has worked in multiple contexts including public school boards, Ministry of Education, Lakehead University and First Nations private schools. Within each of these contexts, she has built capacity and partnerships with multiple community stakeholders. Her work with the community has involved education conferences, workshop presentations, and capacity building with educators in First Nations schools.
Denise’s current doctoral research and professional writing support her educational experiences and are focused on decolonizing educational systems. She is a Marten Falls First Nation member, and maintains that preserving and practicing cultural traditions and ceremony keeps her connected to the community, Aboriginal cultures, traditions, and protocol. All of this has allowed her to establish networks, strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and governments, as well as, build capacity between First Nations and public and private partners. This includes partnerships that have supported multiple initiatives that advance educational outcomes for Aboriginal students.
Additionally, her cultural competency allowed her to serve as co-chair of the Ministry of Education, Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat's First Nations, Metis and Inuit Provincial Committee. Her extensive educational experience has included opportunities to lead and teach across multiple educational environments including public schools K-12, First Nations schools and First Nations Private Schools, and the university. As a public-school educator and leader, she has had the opportunity to work within high-need inner-city schools, French Immersion Schools, and adult and continuing education. Denise has been recognized for achieving the highest provincial assessment scores in the school board in a significantly marginalized community school, building a collaborative inquiry project between English and French Immersion students and teachers in conjunction with Lakehead University, as well as, fostering a collaborative inquiry within Adult and Continuing Education to decolonize our learning environment. Her work with First Nations schools has included building capacity with leaders and teachers, supporting school improvement, as well as, opening Matawa Learning Centre Private Secondary School.
As a part of the Paul Martin Initiative, Denise had the opportunity to be a mentor in two First Nations communities in Southwestern Ontario. Through her mentorship, the communities achieved well above the provincial standard of 75% in the EQAO provincial assessment. Her recent experience with Adult and Continuing Education has required her to manage a budget in excess of one million dollars that is solely grant and community partner funded. These community partnerships are built and maintained on her own, as the Adult and Continuing Education Principal. These efforts have led to opening four new sites this year and an expansion of 600K annually. Most recently, she developed and co-instructed Lakehead University's Principal Qualification Program Part I and II. Denise’s masters work focused on building relationships with Indigenous parents and caregivers as a critical entry point for Indigenous families into the public school system. This research led to the creation of Aboriginal Presence In our Schools – A Cultural Resource for Staff which was adopted and adapted by several public and Catholic school boards across the province.