President's Message

As Lakehead’s new President, I believe that we share the view that our strength as a university lies in our mission and commitment to ensure students learn how to think, not what to think. That is our point of departure for producing well-educated graduates who will thrive in a rapidly and profoundly changing society.

Our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan maps out the route to success for Lakehead students and our University as a whole. It is a plan founded upon a vision of greater openness in how we lead and how we work together. To do so will encourage innovation and entrepreneurial approaches, from our daily tasks to the way we see Lakehead and how we represent our University to the world. We will weave our passion for discovery and learning, as well as our postsecondary pathways and partnerships, into a transformed physical and virtual presence that will enhance the Lakehead University experience for those on our campuses and beyond.

Empowering our diverse learners to become the next generation of leaders will be achieved by prioritizing high-calibre research and deep learning while building strong local, global, and Indigenous partnerships that champion equity and access.

Lakehead’s genuine, nationally recognized commitment to Indigenous students is particularly important to us. Indigenous students make up 14% of our student population, one of the highest in the country. We are responding to our unique mandate as a postsecondary institution in both Thunder Bay and Orillia by continuing to listen to our Indigenous partners, elders, and leaders, by incorporating Indigenous content and knowledge across all our programs, by establishing positive cultural and social spaces, and by implementing welcoming policies and practices.

Moira McPherson & Ron MacLean

Honorary Degree Recipient Ron MacLean celebrates Dr. Moira McPherson’s installation as Lakehead’s seventh president in September 2018.

We are working hard to expand resources to support student health and well-being combined with broader experiential and international learning opportunities. Our focus on attracting and supporting international students will build on our already considerable successes.

We live and work in two spectacularly beautiful landscapes – Lakehead Orillia has wonderful lakes and countryside, and Lakehead Thunder Bay sits on the rugged Precambrian Shield on the edge of Lake Superior. They are landscapes that enrich our daily lives and position our campuses to enhance the learning and living experiences for our students, faculty and staff.

In each of our regions, we are nurturing existing alliances and forging new collaborations and relationships. At Lakehead Orillia, we are expanding programming and research with Georgian College to build tomorrow’s highly skilled workforce in Simcoe County. Cultivating strong partnerships between Lakehead Thunder Bay and Confederation College, Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education & Training Institute, and Seven Generations Aboriginal Institute will improve access to the best educational opportunities for students who bring a wide range of experiences. In addition, our Northern Ontario School of Medicine, with its social accountability mandate and a unique and shared model of distributed community engaged medical education, is helping us meet the health care needs of Northern Ontarians.

Support for our scholars and their diverse research programs will continue to distinguish Lakehead as an important comprehensive university in Canada. Together, I know we will all continue to do our very best to serve Lakehead University’s students, and the communities surrounding our campuses, with the kind of verve, respect, and deep commitment that they deserve.

In the unforgiving North Atlantic, the hulking wreckage of the Titanic rusts in gloomy silence on the ocean floor. Until 1991, no one – except a handful of scientists – had seen the ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner since it collided with an iceberg and disappeared into the frigid waters.

That all changed when Lakehead grad and documentary filmmaker Stephen Low (BA’74) released his feature-length IMAX® film – Titanica. Stephen took moviegoers along with him as he and his expedition team descended 12,500 feet before reaching the once splendid ship. “More people have gone into space than into the deep ocean,” Stephen says.

IMAX® is the largest film format in existence and it enables audiences to be fully immersed in previously hidden worlds. Capturing the spectacular scenes that set IMAX® documentaries apart demands ingenuity, persistence, and courage.

Aircraft Carrier

“We’re not working on a set, we’re working in real environments,” Stephen points out. “On the way to the Titanic, we were caught in gale force seas and later on we were actually trapped inside the vessel. Many of my contemporaries – documentary directors and cameramen – have died making their films.”

Every IMAX® movie Stephen has directed pushes him to develop new technologies to capture the images he wants and overcome the challenges of extremely heavy cameras. In the case of the Titanic, Stephen’s team designed a lighting system that illuminated an area the size of a football field. “James Cameron used our film as the model for his famous Hollywood film, Titanic,” he says. Stephen was also pivotal in developing 3D IMAX® techniques, beginning with his film The Last Buffalo.

“We’re not working on a set, we’re working in real environments.”

In 1998, Stephen once again headed into the abyss for his film Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (2003). His destinations were the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the East Pacific Rise at the bottom of the world’s two largest oceans – inhospitable and strange realms populated by giant tubeworms and luminescent shrimp that live along hydrothermal vents spewing toxic black chemicals.

Stephen hasn’t confined his explorations to the water - he’s also strapped audiences into an Indy 500 car, taken them on a breathtaking steam engine journey across Canada, and traced humans’ attempts to soar into the heavens in Legends of Flight. Right now, he’s working with sub-atomic particle physicists unravelling the mysteries of the universe at Switzerland’s CERN Large Hadron Collider.

“I’ve met astronauts, fighter pilots, Russian submariners, scientists of all kinds, the Rolling Stones, and Jane Goodall, to name a few,” Stephen says. “It’s been marvellous.” And because of his films, millions of moviegoers have met them too.

Volcanoes of the Deep Sea Trailer
The Trolley Trailer
Adventures of Titanic Proportions

The world of a person living with dementia often shrinks in ways unrelated to their cognitive abilities. They find themselves excluded from everyday interactions and adjusting to a new reality in which they are completely ignored or spoken to as if they are little children.

This demoralizing experience happens in many social settings – at a party, visiting the doctor, or shopping for groceries. “Suddenly, all the conversations are directed to their care partners, as if they can’t answer a question,” says Dr. Elaine Wiersma, a Lakehead University Health Sciences professor and the director of the University’s Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health (CERAH). “There is a huge stigma attached to having dementia.” Dr. Wiersma, whose research and practice focuses on improving the quality of life of people with dementia, finds this situation incredibly frustrating.

The Dementia Café

Photo credit: Dave Andrew Photography

But in Northwestern Ontario, things are changing. In March 2018, ‘The Dementia Café: A Place to Belong’ opened its doors, offering people the chance to socialize without judgement. The Dementia Café is held twice a month at The Habit coffee shop run by Urban Abbey – a community outreach initiative in Thunder Bay.

Dr. Wiersma is the driving force behind the Café. “People with dementia kept telling me how important it is to connect with people like themselves, since only people with the same diagnosis can understand what it’s like.” With the support of CERAH, she approached Urban Abbey and the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay about collaborating on this project. It is only because of vibrant partnerships like these that the Dementia Café can happen.

“In March 2018, The Dementia Café: A Place to Belong opened its doors.”

Anyone walking by the Café will hear the sounds of laughter, conversation, and music. “There aren’t the same kinds of social expectations here,” says Dr. Wiersma. “If somebody repeats something it doesn’t matter, if somebody uses the wrong word it doesn’t matter.” People with dementia and their care partners not only attend the Café, they also act as volunteers – serving pastries, greeting people, and providing musical entertainment. “They astound me with their resilience and the contributions they make to this community,” she says.

Sundays at the Dementia Café alternate between live entertainment and sessions creating artwork or playing games. As Dr. Wiersma points out, “a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean that your life is over or that your value is diminished.” People with dementia have much to teach us, and perhaps the biggest lesson, Dr. Wiersma says, “is to slow down and live in the moment.”

Finding Laughter at the Dementia Café
Global Outreach
Global Outreach

Approximately 550 students from more than 50 countries participated in Lakehead Thunder Bay’s 2017 international student orientation – a record number that reflects the University’s commitment to internationalization. Lakehead Orillia’s international program is also expanding. They welcomed Mexican students to their Visiting International Student Program as well as international students beginning the Academic English Program and full-time degree studies. Some of Lakehead’s newest students arrived from countries including Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Lakehead-Georgian Students Excel
Lakehead-Georgian Students Excel

In September 2017, approximately 36 Lakehead University-Georgian College students in electrical engineering and environmental sustainability programs began their studies. The students will complete a university degree and a college credential in only four years to get them job ready. Two new Lakehead-Georgian programs are beginning in September 2018: Honours Bachelor of Science – Applied Life Sciences (Specialization in Biomedical Techniques) degree with Biotechnology-Health diploma and Honours Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree with Computer Programmer diploma.

Medical Imaging Entrepreneurs
Medical Imaging Entrepreneurs

Seven Lakehead PhD students will be interning at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute because of a new partnership with Mitacs – a national, not-for-profit research and training organization. The students, specializing in biotechnology and chemistry and materials science, will receive a portion of a $400,000 Mitacs grant to develop and commercialize the next generation of medical imaging detectors. The detectors will have the potential to perform anatomical diagnostic imaging and image-guided radiotherapy, among other life-saving clinical procedures.

On a spring day in 2016, Ceilidh Boyd and Stephanie Drost shunned the warmer weather for the apparatus floor of Thunder Bay’s Station 3. They were crawling blindly through a course called “Blacked-Out Face Mask” and running up and down three storeys wearing ankle weights, a 50-pound vest, and carrying an 85-pound hose – three times in a row – along with other endurance challenges.

The two former Lakehead students were among 270 people who’d applied to the City of Thunder Bay Fire Department (TBFD). Although Stephanie and Ceilidh didn’t know it, they were about to make history by becoming the first female firefighters ever hired by the Thunder Bay Fire Department – a breakthrough for girls and young women in Northwestern Ontario.

“Thunder Bay is reputed to have one of the toughest tests in the country,” TBFD Division Chief of Training Bill Johnson says, “and it’s the same for male and female applicants. We don’t discriminate, but if you pass, you pass and if you fail, you fail.”

Ceilidh Boyd & Stephanie Drost

Stephanie Drost (left) and Ceilidh Boyd (right) started out as forest firefighters

When Stephanie and Ceilidh got the news that they were hired, they were over the moon. “The guys were so awesome at making us feel welcome,” Ceilidh says. “I can’t say enough about the Thunder Bay Fire Department.”

To get to that point, each had stumbling blocks to overcome. Stephanie, who studied kinesiology and business at Lakehead University, had been a competitive cross-country skier since she was seven. Then, while racing with Lakehead’s varsity ski team, everything came to a sudden halt. Years of training caused nerve damage to Stephanie’s elbow and forced her to leave the sport. “It was a blessing in disguise,” Stephanie says. “The injury led me to firefighting by giving me the time to pursue other things.”

She got a job as a forest firefighter in Dryden, Ontario, and began spending her summer breaks fighting wildfires. It was there that she first met Ceilidh who was also searching for the right path to take.

“The best part of firefighting is the people you work with.”

Ceilidh had already earned undergraduate degrees in kinesiology and education and a Master of Science at Lakehead. After working for several years as a substitute high school teacher, she still hadn’t found her niche. Frustrated by the lack of permanent jobs and seeking a more adventurous life, Ceilidh became a white water rafting guide and then taught emergency medicine to first responders in wilderness settings. But it was only when she was hired as a forest firefighter that things started to fall into place for her.

Stephanie and Ceilidh value the opportunities being with the Thunder Bay Fire Department brings them. “One of the best things about firefighting are the people you work with,” Ceilidh says, “we all look out for each other – it’s like a family.” “Firefighters go to everything – car accidents, medical calls, fires, public assists,” Stephanie adds. “We see people on their worst days. Knowing you’re helping them is so rewarding.”

Ceilidh and Stephanie both take their responsibilities as role models seriously. “After a 20-minute school presentation,” Ceilidh says, “little girls come up to us and say, ‘I want to be a firefighter too.’”

Firefighters with the Right Stuff

Four Lakehead Orillia students are embarking on life-changing adventures with the help of a beloved community leader.

In 2018-19, these young people are heading to the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Finland for a study abroad program to challenge their minds. Longstanding Lakehead supporter Sue Mulcahy matched bursaries provided by the University’s international department to reduce financial barriers and boost the students’ confidence.

“I can’t express how excited I am about what the next few months will bring,” says criminology student Sabrina Song-Chambers, who will be attending Dalarna University in Sweden. “I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

Sue Mulcahy, students and staff

“I was really impressed with the students when I met them,” Sue Mulcahy says. “They’re working very hard and making the most of their opportunities.”

Sue, who is now 97 years old, knows firsthand that you have to be fearless if you want to chart your own course. Although 1950s society had very limited roles for women, Sue pushed the boundaries when she became a partner in her father’s Orillia-based real estate and insurance company. “When I started, I wondered if I’d have any problems with the men working there, but we struck up lasting friendships.”

Sue also led the way as the first female president of the Orillia Real Estate Board before her sense of civic responsibility compelled her to take on an even bigger challenge. “I was elected to the Orillia City Council in 1963 and 1964,” she says.

You have to be fearless if you want to chart your own course.”

The future of the community’s young people was always on Sue’s mind, so in 1965, she and some likeminded advocates formed the Simcoe College Foundation. “We thought we needed a university in Simcoe County because there wasn’t anything near us.” They lobbied the provincial government with relentless determination for nearly three decades. Several times they came close to victory – but their dream eluded them. Then, years later, Sue heard rumblings that her hometown would finally get its longed for school. “I thought the sky had fallen in,” she says. “It was absolutely wonderful when Lakehead Orillia opened in 2006.”

Sue has been a stalwart champion of Lakehead ever since and is now helping our students immerse themselves in new worlds. “When I was working, my two sisters and I travelled every year.” Switzerland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand were some of their destinations. “I love experiencing other cultures,” Sue says. “We saw all there was to see. We didn’t go there to sit on the beaches.”

Opening the World for Young People
New Lakehead Orillia Principal
New Lakehead Orillia Principal

On Canada Day 2017, Lakehead Orillia welcomed its new principal, Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans. “It is a privilege to have been chosen as this campus’s second principal,” Dr. Jobin-Bevans said, “and to have the chance to engage with our community partners in the City of Orillia and Simcoe County as we continue to grow current programs and develop and shape new programs.” Before becoming principal, Dr. Jobin-Bevans was a vital member of Lakehead Thunder Bay for 12 years, serving as an associate music professor, music department chair, and interim dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.

City of Thunder Bay Partnership
City of Thunder Bay Partnership

Lakehead University and the City of Thunder Bay signed a memorandum of understanding on December 20, 2017, to build on mutual strengths and foster economic development initiatives. This strategic new partnership is a way to pursue funding opportunities from other entities and encourage international engagement, entrepreneurship, and advocacy with other levels of government. Shared goals include making Thunder Bay a better place to live, work, and prosper and raising the profile of both Thunder Bay and Lakehead University as leaders and collaborators.

Celebrating Indigenous Culture
Celebrating Indigenous Culture

A tipi was raised at Lakehead Orillia in 2017 as a symbol of the University’s resolve to create a safe space for Indigenous learners. It will also function as a site where other disciplines can interact with each other, explained Winston Boudreau – an Orillia student and Turtle Island Student Circle clan representative. “The tipi and surrounding gardens are a part of a living, growing, gathering place for learning and sharing of ideas between students, faculty, and staff,” added Allysha Wassegijig, Aboriginal Initiatives Coordinator.

A few years ago, any international student arriving at Lakehead Orillia had a very different university experience than they do now. Their homesickness was intensified because there were almost no other overseas students on campus.

Things began to change when Bolu Fabanwo decided to do his commerce degree at Lakehead. “I’ve been fascinated by banking since I was a little kid,” he says. “My parents hoped I’d be a chemical engineer like my dad – he worked for a large oil company – but I’d made up my mind.”

The autumn day Bolu stepped out of a taxi and onto Orillia’s campus, though, was a shock. “I didn’t realize Lakehead was in the countryside. I wasn’t used to such a small population – my hometown of Lagos, Nigeria, has over 20 million people.”

Boluwatife Fabanwo with a student

He felt an overwhelming loneliness. Then, as he sat in the silence of his dorm room, his roommate Eric knocked on the door and introduced himself and his parents before taking Bolu around the entire floor to meet the rest of the students. “I became friends with them all,” Bolu says. “That wouldn’t have happened if I’d gone to university in Toronto.”

Once he started making friends, Bolu began transforming the culture of the campus. “He possesses great empathy for anyone who feels alone, judged, or out of place,” says Katie Fraser, International Engagement Specialist.

“I used to be shy but now I go out of my way to connect with people.”

He helped get the University’s varsity soccer team off the ground and while in his first year, the outgoing president of the Lakehead University Multicultural Association (LUMA) approached Bolu about becoming the new president. Under Bolu’s leadership – and with the hard work of the executive team – LUMA grew from four members to 39 members.

He also inaugurated a multicultural day that soon expanded into a multicultural week. Strolling through campus, students, staff, and professors enjoyed chai tea, got henna tattoos, and sampled snacks from different countries. The vibrant atmosphere fostered greater pride in Lakehead Orillia. “Being an international student at Lakehead changed my life,” Bolu says. “I used to be shy but now I go out of my way to connect with people.”

Bolu continues to be a force to be reckoned with. He’s planning to do a master’s in finance and some job opportunities have come his way. One, at a local bank, is a chance to fulfil his childhood dream. “I’d start at the bottom and work my way up.”

Lakehead Becomes a Cultural Crossroads

Young people often face a conundrum in today’s world. They need experience to land a coveted position, but how do they get it if no one will hire them?

Marc DeGagne, a fourth-year finance student, was one of 20 Lakehead students who participated in the RBC Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program thanks to a $250,000 grant provided by RBC Future Launch.

From October 2017 to April 2018, Marc worked in the United Way of Thunder Bay office six hours each week. “My WIL experience was fantastic.” Marc attended community events, sat in on board meetings, created marketing materials, examined financial spreadsheets, and discovered how the United Way distributes campaign earnings. “The United Way is truly a great organization. Without it, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to live normal everyday lives.”

Marc DeGagne at United Way

Marc’s career development wasn’t confined to his placement. From his very first day, RBC helped him improve his teamwork and financial planning abilities through regular workshops. He plans to apply his new knowledge to the lawn care business he operates as well as future endeavours. “I really would like to stay in the community. I love this place.”

In Northwestern Ontario, companies are losing employees due to an aging population and the out-migration of youth. Murray Walberg, RBC Regional Vice-President and past chair of Lakehead’s Board of Governors, says young people need more opportunities to encourage them to remain in the area and “thrive.”

“We are seeing an increase of young entrepreneurs and what will help these new business owners succeed is having a diverse skill set,” Murray says.

“I really would like to stay in the community. I love this place.”

Kim Ulmer, RBC’s Regional President, has also seen firsthand the challenges young people face finding gainful employment. “Too many young Canadians are caught in the ‘no experience, no work’ cycle but with work integrated learning programs, together, we will assist them in gaining the necessary broad suite of skills,” Kim says.

Some of those skills include digital literacy, entrepreneurship, and social intelligence. “There’s a wonderful quote from an unnamed young person on RBC’s Future Launch website that reads, ‘I’m not planning on being replaced by a robot.’ Foundational skills such as problem solving, collaboration, empathy, and resilience – skills that can’t be automated, will be key to our future,” she says.

That’s why RBC Future Launch is committed to help Canadian youth prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. RBC is also moving beyond financial investment by engaging the public and private sectors to make a significant impact on the lives of young Canadians. RBC Future Launch is a catalyst for change - bringing people together to co-create solutions so young people are better prepared for the future world of work - and the RBC Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program at Lakehead University is a perfect example of this commitment in action.

RBC Gets Students Job Ready
Indigenous Youth Take the Lead
Indigenous Youth Take the Lead

In August 2018, high school students from 25 Northwestern Ontario communities returned to Lakehead Thunder Bay to learn about geo-caching, cartography, sustainable energy, and entrepreneurship. This unique summer camp was part of the First Nation Natural Resource Youth Employment Program’s annual Science Week. The students are also part of sister camps held at Sandbar Provincial Park and Mink Lake. Since 2000, Outland Camps, Lakehead University, and Confederation College have collaborated to offer land-based education training and employment programs for Indigenous Ontario youth.

Behind the Mask
Behind the Mask

In February 2018, over 200 youth from high school and postsecondary institutions across Simcoe County gathered at Lakehead Orillia. They were there to engage in open and honest discussion to break the silence on youth mental health. The summit, organized by Lakehead University and the Simcoe Country District School Board, featured youth-led interactive dialogue, a panel presentation, and an inspiring keynote speaker – Team Canada’s former goalie Kendra Fisher. Fisher shared her personal mental health journey to help inform, empower, and create communities free from stigma.

Teaching Commons Opens
Teaching Commons Opens

The Teaching Commons officially opened at Lakehead Thunder Bay’s Chancellor Paterson Library in April 2018. Intended to be “a space to dream big about teaching,” the centre works with faculty, instructors, and graduate students to cultivate excellence in teaching. The Teaching Commons also provides hands-on support, training, and workshops at Lakehead Orillia. At the Commons, graduate students have access to searchable pedagogical and professional resources including the 20-Minute Mentor – video-based programs designed to answer specific questions related to teaching and learning.

On a wintry afternoon in 2018, a group of new mothers in Kitigan Zibi, Quebec, are intently stitching together tiny moccasins. They are in a weekly support group run by Brianna Decontie – a Lakehead student on her third placement as a maternal child health nurse in this First Nations reserve north of Ottawa.

Kitigan Zibi is Brianna’s hometown and her support group introduces the mothers to good dental hygiene practices for their children and promotes maternal self-care. It’s a much richer experience than your standard health service provides because Brianna believes that blending Indigenous culture with Western medicine has a powerful impact on the health of First Nations people. “My grandfather taught me a lot about my culture and that gave me pride and resilience.”

Growing up, Brianna noticed that her community members didn’t always get adequate health care and that most medical professionals were non-Indigenous people. “Our communities have elevated rates of certain health conditions and diseases so having culturally-aware health providers is crucial.”

Brianna Decontie receiving COUPN Award

“The high incidence of tooth decay in First Nations communities,” Brianna adds, “motivated me to create an Anishinabe-based oral hygiene program adapted from the Ministry of Health’s Give Your Child A Health Happy Smile initiative.”

Strengthening the bond between mothers and babies was another aim of the support group. Along with moccasin making, the new moms learned about the four ways of the Medicine Wheel, which encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements. At story time, the mothers read traditional Algonquin tales to their children. The women also made bundles containing the sacred Anishinabe medicines of tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass. As well, Brianna encouraged them to include “a letter to their child sharing their hopes and dreams for them.”

“My grandfather taught me a lot about my culture and that gave me pride and resilience.”

In April 2018, Brianna became the first Lakehead student to ever receive a Professional Nursing Practice Award from the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing. For Brianna, nursing has transformed her life but she plans to take her involvement in health care even further. “Since the age of six I’ve wanted to be a doctor. I hope to do nursing for a couple of years and then go to med school before returning to work in Kitigan Zibi.”

Whatever path Brianna chooses, she is sure of one thing. “I will always carry the Medicine Wheel teachings with me. They shape the way I interact with patients and the way I advocate for them.”

Empowering Mothers to Raise Healthy Babies

Two spelunkers exploring a cave on the Adriatic coast stumbled across the sanctuary of a vanished Illyrian tribe – and opened a portal into ancient life in Mediterranean Europe.

Archaeologists Tim Kaiser and Stašo Forenbaher were excavating the rocky shelter when they found that the back of the cave was just loose rubble. It had been deliberately blocked to conceal what lay beyond.

They broke through the wall of Nakovana Cave – exposing a low, narrow tunnel. The two men dropped to their bellies and crawled through. When they stood up, they were in a large chamber staring at a large stalagmite resembling a phallus.

Hundreds of broken pieces of Greek-made pottery – mostly wine-drinking and feasting gear – were strewn in front of the stalagmite. “The association of heavy drinking with a phallic monument suggests sacred rites of some kind,” Dr. Kaiser explains.

Tim Kaiser excavating at Nakovana

The chamber hadn’t been entered in 2,000 years. “It was unbelievable – archaeologists are almost never the first to find sealed cave sites,” says Dr. Kaiser, a Lakehead Orillia professor. He and his Croatian-based partner, Dr. Forenbaher, had made an extremely rare discovery.

The Illyrians were farmers and seafaring people who left no written records. To the Greeks and Romans, they were nothing but contemptible pirates. Dr. Kaiser sees them in a more forgiving light. “I’d describe them as plunderers – they collected tolls from passing ships.”

During the Hellenistic Period (c. 375 BC to 50 BC), the Adriatic coast was almost constantly embroiled in war. Dr. Kaiser thinks this may partially explain why the cult of masculinity – and the warrior skills associated with it – was worshipped at Nakovana Cave.

It was unbelievable – archaeologists are almost never the first to find sealed cave sites.”

The site, first excavated in 1999, is still revealing its mysteries. Ivory plaques incised with signs representing Cancer, Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces were recently analyzed. Former Lakehead professor Dr. Carney Matheson identified traces of plants on them, some with medicinal or psychoactive properties, or both. “Perhaps they were kept in a medicine man’s pouch,” Dr. Kaiser speculates. “They’re certainly the oldest signs of the zodiac ever found in Europe.”

But why was Nakovana Cave hastily sealed up in the first place?

“Someone didn’t want it being defiled,” Dr. Kaiser says. Around 35 BC, the future Roman emperor Augustus devastated the region around Nakovana Cave to suppress an Illyrian rebellion. “During this invasion, every adult male was slaughtered,” he says. “The women and children were deported over the mountains and never heard of again. But their echoes persist in this cave.”

The Cave of the Ancient Illyrians
WWI Centennial Project
WWI Centennial Project

The Department of History was part of the World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project – an award-winning community partnership. Lakehead alumni, faculty, and students worked with individuals and institutions to gather photographs, records, and stories in this dynamic online exhibit. Led by the Thunder Bay Public Library, project partners included the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the Thunder Bay Military Museum. Visit to learn about life during this global conflict.

Photo donated by daughter of Archibald Gibbons.

Fulbright Research Chair
Fulbright Research Chair

Dr. Cheryl Lousley, a Lakehead Orillia English and interdisciplinary studies professor, was chosen as a 2018 Fulbright Canada visiting research chair. This highly competitive program is open to exceptional Canadian scholars hoping to conduct research in the United States. Dr. Lousley travelled to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where she taught a Canadian literature seminar course and began her research project “Environmental Narrative and Memory in Contemporary Canadian Fiction” at UCSB’s Literature and Environment Research Center.

Agricultural Research Station
Agricultural Research Station

In December 2017, the Province of Ontario transferred the operating and research programming of the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station to Lakehead University. This shift is helping foster innovation and strengthening Ontario’s competitive edge by expanding agri-food research in Northwestern Ontario. The station, founded in 1991 and renamed the Lakehead University Agricultural Research Station (LUARS), uses small-plot research to introduce and assess crop varieties and agricultural management practices. Some of the new crops being grown since Lakehead has taken it over include galega, kerneza, perennial rye, winter canola, frosty berseem, chicory and plantain.

& Figures
The Employment Rate of Lakehead students
two years after graduation – up from 90% six months after graduation
& Figures
of Students are First Generation
(Neither parent has a degree)
& Figures
in Total Gifts
& Figures
More than
impact on Ontario’s GDP
& Figures
in Total Research Dollars
(among Canada’s primarily undergraduate universities) for the past three years by Maclean’s magazine
& Figures
of our Alumni
live in Ontario