THUNDER BAY – When Lakehead University President Dr. Brian Stevenson made his first speech as President, he stated, “We can change this world”. Over the past year, Stevenson has continued on that theme. Lakehead University has reached out to the Aboriginal and Metis communities, and continued to grow and evolve into a first class research university.
Wasaya Airways and Lakehead University signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this week. The MOU signed at the Wasaya Airways Thunder Bay hangaris for “Reach Up! – Northern Community Sports and Leadership Program”.
Reach Up! is a collaborative initiative between Lakehead University Athletics and Wasaya Airways to provide on-site instruction in sport-specific coaching and general leadership strategies for youth in Northern Ontario First Nations communities serviced by Wasaya Airways. Program visits feature discussion between Lakehead coaches and community coaches/leaders on how to grow and sustain interest in sport as well as sport-specific training. In addition, Lakehead athletes meet with local youth to discuss peer leadership, life goals, and to share their personal experiences.
Lakehead University Athletics and Wasaya Airways believe in the power of sport to change lives and want to establish a sustainable program that will not only create a legacy of activity in Northern communities, but also encourage Aboriginal youth to consider the benefits of postsecondary education for themselves and their communities.
Tom Morris, President and CEO of Wasaya Airways states, “Wasaya strives to actively promote education and recreation programs in the Northern First Nation communities we service. We are very fortunate to have partnered with such an exceptional postsecondary institution to offer a life changing opportunity for our Northern First Nation youth. We hope that this initiative will inspire our youth to partake in a more active lifestyle, build relationships with potential mentors, and continue to pursue education and learning opportunities.”
The Wasaya Airways and Lakehead University MOU strengthens and formalizes the positive working relationship between Wasaya and Lakehead. The MOU establishes several key areas for collaboration, including:
- promoting sport, healthy living, leadership, and team-building in Northern communities
- increasing Aboriginal participation in, and access to, Lakehead programs and services
- providing opportunity for student athletes to better understand and appreciate Aboriginal culture, heritage, and language
- instilling confidence in Aboriginal youth to help young people realize their potential
- promoting the importance of a university education
Lakehead University has a longstanding commitment to fostering leadership and development with Aboriginal students, and advancing the understanding of Aboriginal cultures, heritage, and languages within the University and broader communities.
“Lakehead is proud of this new initiative and MOU that will give us another avenue to reach out and encourage Aboriginal youth to participate in healthy activities and to believe that their future can include post-secondary education,” says Lakehead University President Dr. Brian Stevenson. “We know that changing the face of education for Aboriginal students is a long journey but when we work together with partners like Wasaya and our Lakehead athletes, we become stronger together. Over 1,000 Aboriginal students are enrolled at Lakehead University. We want to see that number increase.”