Message from the President & Vice-Chancellor

As the 2019-2020 academic year unfolded, we easily slipped into the routines and rhythms of campus life. We had no way of knowing that everything familiar would soon be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the 2019-2020 academic year unfolded, we easily slipped into the routines and rhythms of campus life. We had no way of knowing that everything familiar would soon be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the global pandemic spread, Lakehead University was able to quickly adapt to unprecedented challenges. The hope, resilience, and spirit I have seen throughout the University community has made me especially proud.

While health guidelines limited our ability to come together in person, it has not limited the achievements of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

This was the year Canada’s Minister of Health — our Alumna, the Honourable Patty Hajdu — faced a global pandemic and continued to strongly and calmly guide our country through the increasing challenges and impacts.

It was the year social work researcher Dr. Angela Hovey worked with Ontario shelters to help support the resources that women escaping domestic violence need, the year that law students Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco triumphed over schools from across Canada to win the 2020 Sopinka Cup, and it was the year community volunteer and interdisciplinary studies student Rudy Grewal stood up for human rights, diversity, and inclusion.

Through these shining examples, and many more noteworthy examples of diverse achievements, Lakehead has shown itself ready to innovate, share, and collaborate for the greater good.

Lakehead’s accomplishments have also been recognized on the world stage.

Not only was our University included in the top half of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, one of the world’s most respected ranking systems, THE included Lakehead among the top 100 universities from around the world in its 2020 Impact Rankings, which assess institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and more than 220 measurements. The result recognizes Lakehead’s commitment to influencing change and to ensuring the health and sustainability of communities.

While experiencing the tumult of the pandemic, we have become profoundly aware of how essential it is to learn from one another and to share resources and expertise.

As we navigate our way through this period of deep change, I would like to thank our Lakehead University community members, near and far, for their commitment to supporting a strong future for Lakehead.

Times Higher Education Rankings

Every year, the definitive list of the world’s best universities is released by Times Higher Education.

One of the World’s Best Universities

Every year, the definitive list of the world’s best universities is released by Times Higher Education.

This is the only global ranking to judge research-intensive universities across their core missions of teaching, research, international outlook, research citations, and industry income.

The 2021 ranking analyzed more than 80 million citations from 13 million research publications and included survey responses from 22,000 scholars.

More than 1,500 universities from 93 countries were rigourously assessed.

For the second year in a row, Lakehead University is in the 601-800 category – the top half of the top universities from around the world.

Lakehead was the only primarily undergraduate Ontario university to take part in the rankings and is in the same bracket as several larger Canadian universities.

Lakehead also ranked above the worldwide median in three of the five categories: Research, Citations, and International Outlook.

Congratulations to all the faculty, researchers, and students who have made Lakehead University an exceptional and unconventional place to learn!

Recognized as one of the Top 100 Universities Worldwide for Societal Impact

Lakehead University placed 98th in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings of 768 universities from 85 countries around the world. The rankings are based on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings capture each university’s impact on society based on their efforts to advance the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Lakehead is the only primarily undergraduate university in Canada that participated in the 2020 Impact Rankings. We joined a select group of universities from around the world in the top 100, ranking ahead of several top comprehensive and research-intensive Canadian universities.

Lakehead received an overall score of 83.6 out of 100. The University scored highly in many of the SDGs, including top 20 in SDG 2: Zero Hunger, top 30 in SDG 1: No Poverty, top 30 in SDG 14: Life Below Water, top 60 in SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, top 60 in SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and top 70 in SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals.


Fighting the Pandemic

Patty Hajdu is the federal MP at the forefront of Canada’s response to the coronavirus.

Fighting the Pandemic

Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu (BA’96/HBA’97, Anthropology)

Patty Hajdu

“I was the minister of health for a month and a half when we got into serious COVID-19 territory,” says Lakehead alumna Patty Hajdu.

She’s the federal MP at the forefront of Canada’s response to the coronavirus.

“In the early days, it was very hard to predict where this was going to land, there was a lot of hope that the virus could be contained,” she says. “In January, 40 million people were under quarantine in China.”

But Patty had to abruptly shift gears as the virus spread throughout Europe and then reached Canada’s shores. Much of her work developing the national pharmacare plan and improving access to primary care had to be paused.

“Now my primary mandate is to get the country through the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says. Her ministry stepped up and took over the process of acquiring personal protective equipment. “Provinces and territories were trying to go it alone, but it was very tough,” she says.

Patty is also focused on rapid responses to outbreaks, investing in therapeutics and vaccine development, and handling the closure of the Canada – U.S. border.

Throughout all of this, her thoughts are on her fellow citizens.

“I have a deep sense of gratitude because Canadians have been making enormous sacrifices – people who are separated from their loved ones, people who’ve had to reimagine how they run their businesses, and essential workers who’re coping with extremely stressful conditions.”

Serving as the minister of health during a period of global upheaval is not something Patty envisioned for herself.

“I would say that I’m an unlikely politician.”

It was her work at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit overseeing harm prevention programs and developing the city’s drug strategy, as well as the encouragement of friends and colleagues, that convinced her to enter the political arena.

“I realized that if I wanted to make the world a better or a fairer place, bringing about policy changes at the national level could move forward issues I’d been involved with at the community level.”

Becoming the executive director of Shelter House – a homeless shelter in Thunder Bay – clinched her decision.

“As I got to know the stories of the folks using our services, I saw that so many of them were stuck in situations they had no control over.”

After winning the Thunder Bay-Superior North riding in the 2015 federal election, she was appointed the Minister of Status of Women and then the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour before being chosen as the Minister of Health in December 2019.

It’s a posting that draws upon her public health expertise and has introduced her to others who share her dedication to helping Canadians.

“There are many people I’ve been inspired by over the past few months, but the first person on my list is Dr. Theresa Tam. Her strength and resolve has really enabled us to navigate a science-driven response in a time of incredible crisis.”

Patty also applauds the country’s provincial ministers of health.

“One of the defining features of the way we have managed the pandemic is how well we’ve worked together, despite sometimes profound political differences.”

She believes that Canada is ideally placed to advocate for stronger global collaboration in fighting COVID-19, and her convictions and compassion ensure that she will add her voice to this debate.

“All my life, I’ve been called loud and aggressive,” she says. “It turns out that those are actually pretty good qualities to have in politics.”

She’s the federal MP at the forefront of Canada’s response to the coronavirus.

Patty Hajdu Profile Photo
It’s always been a point of pride for me that I’m a Lakehead grad.”

Inspiring Young People

Fatima Ahmed has learned a lot from travelling and from her unique challenges.

Inspiring Young People

Fatima Ahmed graduated with her Bachelor of Education degree in the spring of 2020 and is a current Master of Education student teaching elementary students at a school in Nunavik, located in the far north of Quebec.

Fatima Ahmed

Fatima Ahmed knows firsthand how difficult life can be.

Despite her unique challenges, she has a jaw-dropping number of extraordinary accomplishments under her belt; impressive for someone not even in her mid-30s yet.

Fatima has travelled the world since 2006, helping non-profit organizations thrive while she gleaned new insights along the way.

She has assisted in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Botswana, worked with the women’s development officer in Vanuatu (a nation of roughly 80 islands in the South Pacific Ocean), and served as the executive director helping at-risk youth in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Now she is teaching various subjects to a grade 5/6 class in Nunavik, Quebec.

Travelling has taught Fatima important lessons.

“I have learned that kindness and compassion, not language or culture, are what make someone truly human,” she says.

Fatima, who moved with her family from Pakistan to Stratford, Ontario, in 2000, has also realized that the dynamics of power, privilege, injustice, and oppression exist everywhere, in one form or another.

“Yet, I have witnessed awe-inspiring moments of human generosity,” she says.

Fatima understands how tough it can be adjusting to life at university. It took her 13 years to complete her first degree – at another Ontario university – partly due to an undiagnosed medical disorder and to realizing she had some growing up to do.

A few years before enrolling at Lakehead University, her doctor diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, which causes shifts in a person’s mood and energy levels. She came to Lakehead after learning about accommodations that the university offers, which have helped her face the challenges of assignment deadlines and tests.

“I did not need these accommodations often,” she says.

“Having gone to a large university and a large campus for my first undergraduate degree, I think there is something special about attending smaller universities or campuses. At smaller universities, one is less likely to get lost as a number, which was unfortunately my experience with a larger university.”

To anyone struggling, Fatima says just remember that your persistence will pay off.

“The steam I have been able to gather since starting the Bachelor of Education program at Lakehead University has surprised even me.”

“In Sufi literature, they use the metaphor of a door and tell you to keep knocking; that the door will eventually open,” she says. “So, if you are hitting one roadblock after another, my advice is just have faith that all you have to do is keep knocking and the door will eventually open.”

It's clear that her persistence has definitely paid off. In 2019, she received an Ontario College of Teachers Scholarship for her excellence in teacher education.

Fatima volunteering abroad

Fatima has also realized how lucky she is to be safe during the global pandemic, which has provided her with important reminders about the needs of the mind, body, and soul.

“Physical exercise, connection to nature, and human connection are key to leading a healthy, stable life,” she says. “There's a premium on space, especially during a pandemic, and I feel immense gratitude for having a safe space that I could find refuge in when it was unsafe to be around people.”

Fatima describes Lakehead Orillia as a quaint, beautiful place to learn and study.

“There is immense potential at the Orillia campus to leave behind a legacy by starting or participating in something that is meaningful to you,” she says.

Speaking of building a legacy, Fatima has big plans for her future. She is currently working on her Master of Education at Lakehead. She jokes with her mom that she wants to earn 10 university degrees by the time she turns 45.

Fatima with children

Fatima Ahmed has learned a lot from travelling and from her unique challenges.

Fatima Ahmed Profile Photo
My dream is to continue to live a meaningful life everyday, one filled with service and knowledge”

Celebrating Milestones

We’re proud of the many accomplishments our faculty and students have achieved this past year.


Nourishing Northwestern Ontarians

Finding ways to create a more equitable food system drives Dr. Charles Levkoe’s research.

Nourishing Northwestern Ontarians

The work of the Indigenous Food Circle and other community partners is having a galvanizing effect in the region.

Dr. Charles Levkoe

In times of crisis, vulnerable people in our societies often suffer the greatest hardships. This is proving to be true for Indigenous communities as the coronavirus continues to cause loss of life and economic upheaval.

“Indigenous people in Northwestern Ontario have almost double the rate of food insecurity as the white settler population,” explains Dr. Charles Levkoe, the Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at Lakehead University.

The Indigenous Food Circle, one of the community partners Dr. Levkoe works with, is stepping up during the pandemic to secure money to provide nutritious food for Indigenous people in the region.

But this situation existed long before the pandemic arrived. Lack of access to healthy, affordable, and culturally-appropriate food has been a problem for Indigenous Canadians since European contact.

“Western countries have built food systems intended to maximize profit and reduce labour costs,” Dr. Levkoe says. “Underlying these systems are ideologies rooted in white supremacy, settler colonialism, and patriarchy. The result is inequality and injustice for large groups of people.”

Finding ways to create a more equitable food system drives Dr. Levkoe’s research, but he recognizes that real change comes from working together with communities and grassroots organizations who take the lead in creating solutions.

Locally, Dr. Levkoe collaborates with groups like the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy. It was through the Food Strategy that he met Jessica McLaughlin, the group’s Indigenous representative. After a meeting, she and Dr. Levkoe asked each other:

“How can Thunder Bay – the Canadian city with the largest per capita percentage of Indigenous people – respond to Indigenous food security issues if there’s only one Indigenous person on this council?”

This prompted them to start the Indigenous Food Circle as a sister organization with Jessica as the coordinator. Dr. Levkoe remains involved with this primarily Indigenous-run group as a member of the advisory team.

Their goal is to foster Indigenous food sovereignty.

“That doesn’t mean charity or opening more northern stores that receive government subsidies and then charge $12 for a litre of milk,” Dr. Levkoe says. “It’s about returning decision-making power to Indigenous people and communities.”

The Indigenous Food Circle has taken action on this front by developing and implementing food sovereignty visions with 14 First Nations in the Thunder Bay area, in partnership with Lakehead University and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

Indigenous Food Circle event

Another strategy being used to further food sovereignty is the promotion of land-based education, which encompasses traditional practices such as hunting and fishing. For example, the Red Rock First Nation, the Indigenous Food Circle, and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit cooperated to build a butcher shop in the First Nation so that community members could process wild game.

In a similar vein, the Indigenous Food Circle and public health authorities are joining forces to make it easier for Indigenous communities to serve wild game at events and gatherings, an activity that’s heavily regulated by the provincial government.

The Indigenous Food Circle also hopes that independent food security initiatives like the Aroland Blueberry Youth Project become more common. For several years, young people from this First Nation have been successfully harvesting and selling wild blueberries to Northwestern Ontario stores and restaurants.

“If you go to Prime Gelato and order blueberry ice cream,” Dr. Levkoe says, “it’s made with Aroland berries.”

The work of the Indigenous Food Circle and other community partners is having a galvanizing effect in the region. Through their efforts, they are laying the groundwork for a food system that nourishes and sustains all Northwestern Ontarians.

Finding ways to create a more equitable food system drives Dr. Levkoe’s research.

Dr. Charles Levkoe Profile Photo
It’s about returning decision-making power to Indigenous people and communities.”

Caring for the Vulnerable

Dr. Crystal Luchkiw has been trying to counteract the fear and uncertainty that has followed in the wake of COVID-19.

Caring for the Vulnerable

Lakehead alumna Dr. Crystal Luchkiw (HBASc’09) is staying focused on what’s best for her patients.

Crystal Luchkiw

Being a physician in the middle of a pandemic isn’t an easy situation, but Lakehead alumna Dr. Crystal Luchkiw (HBASc’09) is staying focused on what’s best for her patients.

“As a practitioner, I’m very much about human connection,” she says. “I spend a lot of time making sure that people understand their diagnosis and providing emotional and psychological support.”

Since March, Crystal has been trying to counteract the fear and uncertainty that has followed in the wake of COVID-19.

“I encourage my elderly patients to safely see their families and to go outdoors,” she says. “Many of them didn’t leave their homes for months and that’s devastating to their health.”

She’s also vigilant about keeping her patients up to date on the latest scientific news and studies. This approach to medicine taps into a passion for education and health that Crystal has had since her teens.

“The word ‘doctor’ actually means teacher,” she explains.

After high school, Crystal was accepted into Georgian College’s nursing program, but she backed out, she says, “because I was scared to give needles and take blood.” After working for several years, Crystal enrolled in Lakehead’s Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science and Bachelor of Education programs in 2006 with the aim of becoming a teacher.

“I started at the Orillia campus the very first moment it opened. I had some courses where there were just two us – it was a fantastic learning environment.”

Although things were going smoothly, when she was in fourth year, Crystal and a fellow student went to a McMaster University medical school information session out of curiosity.

“I realized that becoming a doctor would be a perfect way to combine my interests in one career,” Crystal says.

She graduated with her Doctor of Medicine in 2012 and applied for residencies in both obstetrics and gynaecology and family medicine.

“I chose to become a family physician because I liked the idea of being able to engage in one-on-one education. Often patients come back to me and say, ‘I made these changes after we talked and, boy, do I feel better.’ That’s very rewarding.”

Crystal is based at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Ontario, and has a family practice in Barrie. When she started at the Royal Victoria, she was doing hospitalist work – taking care of hospitalized sick patients – and this experience led to a dramatic change in her practice.

“As a hospitalist, at least 30% of my patients would never recover or get out of hospital, so I had to have honest conversations while also being comforting. Sometimes, even when a patient has been told that their disease is terminal, they don’t fully understand what that means.”

Seeing people show strength in the face of death has been life affirming for Crystal, prompting her to branch into palliative care home visits and hospice work.

The common thread, whether she is dealing with patients who recover from their illnesses or palliative care patients, is the resilience of the human spirit – something that is at the forefront of her mind as the pandemic continues to cause suffering.

“By and large, my patients are positive and find things to be grateful for,” Crystal says. “It gives me hope that we’re all in this together and we’ll all get through this together.”

Crystal has been trying to counteract the fear and uncertainty that has followed in the wake of COVID-19.

Crystal Luchkiw Profile Photo
I realized that becoming a doctor would be a perfect way to combine my interests in one career.”

Research from Around the World

Research from Around the World

Canada’s #1 Research University Five Years in a Row

  • International Research Collaborations

    Lakehead University is one of the top research-intensive universities in Canada that supports and facilitates research, scholarly activity and innovation, mentoring and training, and the translation of research results into health, social, and economic benefits for our region, country, and world.

  • Dr. Han Chen

    Dr. Han Chen (Natural Resources Management) had 32 publications in 2019, the majority were co-authored with Chinese researchers at Fujian Normal University, various units of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Anhui Agricultural University, and Nanjing Forestry University. He is a member of the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative and he is intrigued by causes of biological diversity, ecosystem functioning, and nutrient dynamics. Dr. Chen’s lab strives to contribute to societal decision-making process in ways to assure ecological sustainability of natural and managed ecosystems in a changing environment.

  • Dr. Pedram Fatehi

    Dr. Pedram Fatehi (Chemical Engineering/Biorefining Research Institute Director) had 32 publications in 2019 and his collaborators are even more globally diverse. Several were in China, where he has a longstanding collaboration with Qilu University. He was instrumental in initiating an MOU and student exchange program with Qilu University last year. He is also working on a collaboration with Swedish and Finnish investigators (one of his PhD students was awarded a Mitacs Globalink Research Award to Åbo Akatemi University in Finland in 2019). He is also collaborating with several private companies in the US, Finland, Sweden, South Africa and China.

  • Dr. Xiaoping Liu

    Dr. Xiaoping Liu (Electrical Engineering) had the second most publications in China and third most overall (18) in 2019. He completed all of his education (BSc through PhD) at Northeastern University in Shenyang, China, and continues to collaborate with Northeastern (and other universities in China). Northeastern is known for engineering and information technology (several Lakehead researchers have collaborators at Northeastern).

  • Dr. Pete Hollings

    Dr. Pete Hollings (Geology) published seven articles in 2019 with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry and the Institute of Geology and Geophysics). Dr. Hollings has been a visiting Professor at the Hefei University of Technology for over five years resulting in many publications and visits to Thunder Bay from Chinese students. He also has active collaborations with the State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of Geosciences (three papers), the State Key Laboratory of Ore Deposit Geochemistry in Guiyang (one funded research project) and the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing (seven papers). Dr. Hollings also has a longstanding collaboration at the University of Tasmania, Centre for Ore Deposit and Earth Sciences (CODES), where he has an adjunct appointment. Two of his graduate students spent the summer of 2019 at CODES on Mitacs Globalink Research Awards. Dr. Hollings is also collaborating with researchers at the Instituto de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad Austral de Chile (one paper).

  • Dr. Salimur Choudhury

    Dr. Salimur Choudhury (Computer Science) had 11 publications indexed in 2019, including four with co-authors at the Islamic University of Technology near Dhaka, Bangladesh (his alma mater). His research focuses on design algorithms for optimization problems. Other publications include an article in a special issue of Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing with a Japanese collaborator and two book chapters with collaborators from Turkey and Australia.

  • Dr. Baoqiang Liao

    Dr. Baoqiang Liao (Biotechnology, Chemical Engineering) had 11 publications on wastewater treatment issued in 2019 and seven of them were with Dr. Hongjun Lin’s lab at Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China. His research interests include membrane bioreactors, wastewater treatment, particle science and technology, colloidal and surface chemistry, sludge management, anaerobic digestion, environmental nanoparticle technology, environmental engineering, biorefinery, and bioenergy production.

  • Dr. Michel Bedard

    Dr. Michel Bedard (Health Sciences/Psychology, Director of the Centre for Research on Safe Driving) had several publications with his collaborators at the Monash University Accident Research Centre and the Monash Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre in Australia. Other publications include collaborations with colleagues at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and the Research for Older Adult Driver Initiative (ROADI) at East Carolina University. He is also part of a large research grant with researchers from the University of New South Wales Ageing Futures Institute. His research program focuses on the identification of the determinants of safe and unsafe driving (e.g., cognition, self-beliefs, health status, medication use), the development of approaches to assess fitness-to-drive, the development of programs to enhance safe driving, and the transition from driving to non-driving.

  • Dr. Charles Levkoe and Dr. Lindsay Galway

    Dr. Charles Levkoe (Sustainable Food Systems) and Dr. Lindsay Galway (Health Sciences) are part of the bi-national “Lake Superior Living Labs Network: Enhancing Capacity for Regenerative Social-Ecological Systems” project, which began in 2019 and is being funded for three years. The project involves multiple academic and community partners in Canada and the United States, including the University of Minnesota Duluth and Lake Superior College in Duluth.

  • Dr. Sudip Rakshit

    Dr. Sudip Rakshit (Chemical Engineering, Biorefining Research Institute) spent three weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico, on a Faculty Mobility Grant from Global Affairs Canada to explore opportunities for research collaboration with Dr. Guillermo Torez from the Wood, Cellulose and Paper Research Department of the University of Guadalajara and with Dr. Arturo Sanchez Carmona from Bioenergy Futures Laboratory in the CINVESTAV-Guadalajara Unit. CINVESTAV (Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute) is a network of national research centres in Mexico. Results of this collaboration include plans for Dr. Rakshit’s students to undertake research stays with CINVESTAV and co-supervision of graduate students. He has also had student exchange and joint publications with Prof. Carlos R. Soccol and Prof. Silvio Silverio da Silva from the Federal University of Parana Polytech Centre and University of Sao Paulo, respectively.

  • Dr. Shoeb Mohammad

    Dr. Shoeb Mohammad (Business) was awarded a Faculty Mobility Grant for 2020-21, to collaborate with the EGADE Business School at Tec de Monterrey and the School of Business at the University of Monterrey in Mexico. Dr. Mohammad’s project is entitled “An examination of the prevalence of corruption at the municipality level in Mexico and its effect on new product innovation,” and will involve a combination of teaching and research at both institutions.

  • Dr. Kathy Sanderson

    Dr. Kathy Sanderson (Business) has been collaborating with researchers from the WeAll project at the University of Helsinki, Finland, who examine the quality of work life through a multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Sanderson spent some time during the spring of 2019 as a visiting scholar at the University of Helsinki where the team launched data collection on a project examining emotional abuse in the workplace. Later in 2019, Dr. Sanderson was awarded an International Research Partnership Development Award for 2020 (extended to 2021) for continuing the project and further developing collaborative activities.

  • Dr. Idevania Costa and Dr. Elaine Wiersma

    Dr. Idevania Costa and Dr. Elaine Wiersma are the principal investigators of two International Research Partnership Development Awards for nursing-focused research collaborations in Brazil, and are also co-principal investigators on each other’s projects. Dr. Costa will lead a project entitled, “Creating Foundations for Improving the Health of Populations with Diabetes-Related Wounds: A Strategic Partnership between Lakehead University and University of Sao Paulo, Brazil,” in collaboration with the University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto College of Nursing (EERP-USP) – a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research Development. Dr. Wiersma will lead a collaboration with two universities in Brazil, the Federal University of Mato Grosso and the Federal University of Santa Catarina, one in Norway, and another in the United Kingdom to examine the stigma of dementia across different cultural perspectives for the development of improved programmatic responses to stigma and community inclusion.

  • Dr. Vicki Kristman

    Dr. Vicki Kristman (Health Sciences, EPID@Work Director) was awarded an International Research Partnership Development grant for her proposed collaboration with University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). Her project, entitled “Improving workplace wellness and work disability outcomes in Northern populations,” is a collaboration with Dr. Kim Dauner at UMD’s Health Care Management program in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. Partnership development activities will include joint workshops and grant proposal development for long-term research funding.

  • Dr. Sandra Jeppesen

    Dr. Sandra Jeppesen (Interdisciplinary Studies) visited the Deggendorf Institute of Technology (DIT) in Germany in the fall of 2019, under DIT’s visiting scholar program, focusing on Big Data Analytics at the Technology Campus Grafenau. In addition, Dr. Jeppesen hosted two Mitacs Globalink students from Brazil to work on her global Media Action Research Group program of research in 2019. Moreover, an important international anthology, Media Activist Research Ethics: Global Approaches to Negotiating Power in Social Justice Research (2020) has been co-edited with Dr. Paola Sartoretto at Jönköping University, Sweden. Finally, there is a collaboration under development with the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University, Wales.

  • Dr. Mat Leitch

    Dr. Mat Leitch (Natural Resources Management) spearheaded a partnership to develop activities with a number of organizations in Ghana, culminating in a visit to Ghana in January 2020 for MOU signing ceremonies and the planning of next steps. New partners in Ghana include the University of Ghana, Forestry Commission of Ghana headquartered in Accra, the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (CSIR-FORIG) in Kumasi, the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Cape Coast, and the University of Energy and Natural Resources-School of Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani. Dr. Leitch also has a partnership with Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa.


Laying Down the Law

Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco took on Canada’s best and brightest to win the Sopinka Cup.

Laying Down the Law

Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco participated in the national trial advocacy competition held in Ottawa and were victorious against seven other law schools from across Canada.

Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco

A Bora Laskin Faculty of Law team took on the country’s best and brightest to take home the Sopinka Cup in March 2020.

Law students Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco participated in the national trial advocacy competition held in Ottawa and were victorious against seven other law schools from across Canada.

In order to compete in the Sopinka Cup, the team first had to win the Arnup Cup provincial meet held in Toronto in February.

Both young men attribute their success to around 150 hours spent preparing – and to the experiences that helped shape them.

Justis says Professor Frances Chapman’s first-year criminal law course at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law made him comfortable trying cases.

“Dr. Chapman taught me the nuts and bolts of manoeuvring through complex criminal litigation, and the basic principles that underlie much of the Criminal Code and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” says Justis, who also holds an Early Modern Studies and History interdisciplinary degree from King’s College University.

Working at Lakehead’s Community Legal Services Clinic as a student caseworker helped Justis become comfortable with the legal profession. Now he is on a placement at a criminal law firm, PM Law Offices, in Thunder Bay.

“Not only did I represent real people in court in Thunder Bay, but I also prepared their cases and managed their files. I reviewed Crown disclosure documents and prepared legal arguments,” he says.

“The clinic further provided me with invaluable experience appearing before judges and justices of the peace at the Thunder Bay Court.”

Many Bora Laskin Faculty of Law courses involve delivering oral arguments, which gave Justis confidence.

He and Justin are thankful for the help they received from their classmates, from coaches Amanda Gallo and Marco Frangione, and from their teammate, Kim Young.

Before heading to law school, Justis worked behind the scenes in film – first as a carpenter and then as a camera assistant, spending long hours on set.

“This instilled a confidence in me that almost anything can happen if hardworking people make a coordinated effort. As the Sopinka Cup unfolded, I leaned heavily on that trust in my own ability to think quickly and act decisively,” he says.

Like Justis, Justin is also at PM Law Offices in Thunder Bay, as a senior law student who will soon be called to the bar.

He earned a degree in psychology at Lakehead and became interested in the law while working as a court reporter for the Ministry of the Attorney General. Justin says his knowledge of psychology benefitted him at the Sopinka Cup.

“Psychology is an underrated discipline for those contemplating law,” he says.

“Human nature and the precepts that underlie our legal system are inextricably intertwined. Engaging with the fundamentals of human behaviour – whether on an intuitive level or through a formal education – can go a long way in the study of law.”

Justin was nervous before the Sopinka Cup, but their hours and hours of preparation helped calm his nerves, along with being comfortable working with Justis.

“I never thought I’d compete in a national trial advocacy competition,” he says. “But I believe that voluntarily exposing oneself to uncomfortable situations is a surefire way to positively develop as a person.”

Justin and Justis worked well together, they knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and trusted each other.

“Our personalities played off one another in a way that inspired confidence in our trial strategy.”

People started referring to the pair as a “good cop, bad cop” duo.

“I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that characterization, but it's amusing nonetheless,” Justin says. “I also won’t tell you who the bad cop was.”

Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco took on Canada’s best and brightest to win the Sopinka Cup.

Justis Danto-Clancy and Justin Blanco Profile Photo
Our personalities played off one another in a way that inspired confidence in our trial strategy.”

Finding Safety from Violence

“Intimate partner violence is a persistent problem,” says Dr. Angela Hovey, a Lakehead Orillia social work professor.

Finding Safety from Violence

Dr. Angela Hovey and her research partners Dr. Lori Chambers (left) and Liz Westcott with the Greenhaven Shelter for Women (right) accept the 2019 Community-Engaged Research Award.

Dr. Angela Hovey

Despite the fact that aggression towards family members is widely condemned, it remains the number two reason for emergency police calls, according to the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH).

OAITH – which advocates on behalf of violence against women shelters – also reports that 20 to 30 women a year in Ontario are murdered by their partners.

Dr. Hovey, whose research interests include trauma, sexual victimization and perpetration, and the justice system, is currently focused on substance use harm reduction and domestic violence shelters.

“I work with shelters to examine how they are supporting women seeking safety from violence and who also use substances,” she says.

She and her research partners have received over $70,000 in grant funding from OAITH, the Women’s Xchange, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Aid to Small Universities (SSHRC-ASU), and Lakehead University to investigate this complex area.

In the past, many Ontario shelters denied service to women who used substances, whether it was alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. “If a shelter smelled liquor on someone’s breath, they could be turned away,” Dr. Hovey explains.

Shelters were worried about the potential unpredictability of women who use substances and the capacity of staff to handle any issues that arose. They also wanted to avoid exposing traumatized women and children to more upheaval.

This changed several years ago when Ontario’s Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services mandated that every shelter must provide support to all women, whether or not they use substances. Dr. Hovey believes that this was the humane decision to make. She also points out that substance use doesn’t necessarily mean substance abuse and that some women in violent situations rely on substances to cope with their distress.

“Someone who has a drink of wine after work to relax uses substances. But our job isn’t to label it as a problem,” Dr. Hovey says. “Our job is to ensure that women using substances do so in a safe way. You don’t want anyone overdosing and you don’t want the extreme behaviours that can sometimes come with substance use in a shelter setting.”

As part of the SSHRC-ASU and OAITH research grant, “Shelter access for all women: Creating a harm reduction framework,” Dr. Hovey and her research partners – including fellow Lakehead professors Dr. Susan Scott and Dr. Lori Chambers – interviewed staff and residents at several shelters. Their goal was to get an understanding of how shelters manage substance use and identify additional ways to deal with substance use that could be adopted by shelters across Ontario.

They found that shelters employed diverse strategies ranging from not allowing women to use while in the shelter and removing curfews so that women can access substances to offering information about safe substance use and designating an area within the shelter for substance use. Other beneficial strategies include providing clean needles and having sharps containers on site to dispose of used needles.

“Although I think there will always be intimate partner violence,” Dr. Hovey says, “the resilience among the women I’ve met who have escaped this violence gives me hope that things will get better for them because of the available supports.”

The work of Dr. Hovey and her research and community partners earned them the 2019 Lakehead University Community-Engaged Research Award. They are particularly grateful to the shelter residents who joined their research project.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the generosity of folks willing to share their difficult and painful experiences with us,” Dr. Hovey says.

“Intimate partner violence is a persistent problem,” says Dr. Angela Hovey, a Lakehead Orillia social work professor.

Dr. Angela Hovey Profile Photo
I work with shelters to examine how they are supporting women seeking safety from violence and who also use substances”

Stories of Resilience


Engineering Better Communities

TBT Engineering is Northwestern Ontario’s most diverse consulting engineering firm.

Engineering Better Communities

Rob and Liana Frenette are passionate about making life better in communities across Northern Ontario.

TBT Engineering

“When our kids were growing up, they’d say, ‘Mom and Dad, you know everybody,’” Liana Frenette says with a laugh.

She and her husband Rob Frenette are the owners of TBT Engineering, Northwestern Ontario’s most diverse consulting engineering firm.

“We’re doing work from Kenora all the way to Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury,” says TBT Vice President and Lakehead alumnus Franco Gorenszach (BEng’84).

As well as being experts at building roads, bridges, and schools – Rob and Liana are passionate about making life better in communities across Northern Ontario.

“We are an employee-owned organization and we intend to remain one,” Rob says. “Because we have resisted the allure of selling to a big multinational, we’re able to make decisions that are in the best interests of our community.”

That’s one of the reasons they have been such generous supporters of Lakehead University. In 2015, they established a civil engineering graduate scholarship and they are major donors to the Wolf Den facility – Lakehead University’s athletics expansion that will open soon.

The Frenettes are not only donors, they are also alumni. In 1988, Rob earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering and, that same year, Liana graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Bachelor of Education.

“We never really left Lakehead,” Liana explains. She is a past member of the Alumni Association board of directors while Rob was a sessional lecturer for 15 years and a member of the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council.

“Lakehead University has helped us grow and prosper,” Rob says.

“If there wasn’t a university in Northwestern Ontario, we would have to find employees somewhere else,” Liana adds. “Over the past 25 years we’ve employed about 250 Lakehead students and about 70 Lakehead grads currently work at TBT.”

This includes their daughter Sarah Frenette, who has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology.

“There’s a misconception that there are only engineers at TBT Engineering,” Liana says, “but we have people in environmental sciences, education, biology, and geography.”

It’s this diversity of knowledge that has kept TBT resilient and able to take on ambitious large-scale projects.

“We’ve been involved in some capacity in most of the four laning of the Trans-Canada Highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon,” Rob says.

TBT Engineering Broomball Competition

TBT are also the professionals that mining companies turn to.

“Right now, we’re carrying out work with the Detour Gold, Greenstone Gold, New Gold, and Lac des Iles mines,” Rob says, “and our industrial division recently provided services for the Musselwhite mine facility.”

TBT Engineering’s ventures often involve collaborations with First Nations communities.

“We’re currently part of two large energy infrastructure projects with our First Nations partners – the East-West Tie Transmission Project (EWT) and the Watay Power Project,” Rob says. “The EWT will require nearly 400 km of new high tension power lines between Wawa and Thunder Bay.”

The Watay project is over 1,600 km long and will supply safe, clean energy to many remote northern communities that have been powered by diesel generators since the 1950s.

“We know that engineering and construction developments have an impact on the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples, so it’s important to create opportunities in these communities,” Liana says. “Often, TBT hires community members to do civil engineering, surveying, and environmental jobs.”

For TBT Engineering, a sense of community informs everything they do and this approach has been pivotal to their success. Lakehead University is very proud of their achievements and thankful for their commitment to us.

Diversity of knowledge keeps TBT Engineering resilient.

TBT Engineering Profile Photo
We know that engineering and construction developments have an impact on the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples, so it’s important to create opportunities in these communities.”

Generating Power and Potential

Orillia Power has always taken its mission of “energizing our community” seriously.

Generating Power and Potential

Lakehead University is extremely grateful that we have a partner like Orillia Power. Their generosity gives our students hope and makes us more resilient.

Orillia Power

“As an organization that’s over 100 years old, we really have a stake in this city,” says Grant Hipgrave, Orillia Power’s president and CEO.

He takes pride in the fact that the power utility is responsible for generating renewable energy needed to run local businesses, schools, and homes. He also appreciates the challenges that his job provides.

“One of the great benefits of working for a smaller company is that you get to be involved in all aspects of the business – from operations to strategic planning to the day-to-day stuff. And I enjoy working closely with our frontline staff.”

“We’re always looking out for each other,” Grant adds. “There are some inherent dangers in the electricity industry, but we’ve developed a really strong safety ethos here – from the board of directors to the frontline workers. In fact, we recently celebrated 17 years without a lost-time injury.”

This culture of caring extends far beyond Orillia Power’s headquarters and generating stations to the many community organizations and services they stand behind.

“We believe that it’s important to engage with the people we serve,” Grant says.

They have certainly been a huge Lakehead supporter. Over the past several years, Orillia Power has donated $3 million to Lakehead Orillia, allowing the campus to grow and expand at a critical point in its history.

“The university has helped provide a balance of industry, retail, and academic sectors in our region,” Grant says, “They’ve become an integral part of the community.”

The majority of Orillia Power’s gifts have gone toward maintaining Lakehead Orillia’s physical infrastructure, but they’ve also donated to a student bursary and Humanities 101 – a Lakehead program for individuals facing social and financial barriers to postsecondary education. Through Humanities 101, community members are introduced to university life and given the confidence to pursue educational and career opportunities.

“When we heard about the program, it hit home to us,” Grant says. “We thought it was a very worthy cause.”

Orillia Power also has the backing of local leaders when it comes to their relationship with the university.

“As the sole shareholder of Orillia Power, the City of Orillia is firmly behind the donations that we make to Lakehead,” Grant explains.

Orillia Power will continue to be an organization that thousands of people rely upon because it’s unafraid to embrace change. While its three hydroelectric power stations have been supplying power for decades, it has also been branching into newer forms of sustainable energy.

“You have to adapt with the times,” Grant says. “That’s really at the core of what we do. Over the last seven years, we’ve been developing our solar power capacity and we now have seven solar power sites, including three on city-owned facilities in Orillia.

Their ability to be adaptable is even more important during the current global health crisis.

“With COVID-19, we’ve made changes to the work methodologies at our generating stations and in how line work is carried out so that we can keep our workers safe and minimize contact throughout the pandemic challenge,” Grant says.

Lakehead University is extremely grateful that we have a partner like Orillia Power. Their generosity gives our students hope and makes us more resilient.

Orillia Power has always taken its mission of “energizing our community” seriously.

Orillia Power Profile Photo
The university has helped provide a balance of industry, retail, and academic sectors in our region. They’ve become an integral part of the community.”