THUNDER BAY – Lakehead University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson, and University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons are co-leading a group of Canadian universities on a trip to Mexico City to discuss Indigenous higher education. Representatives from Canada and Mexico will spend March 11-12 establishing partnerships and gaining a better understanding of the complexities surrounding the issue.
President Stevenson says accessibility is one of his top priorities. “Changing the face of education for Indigenous people is a long but important journey,” he said. “At Lakehead, we have been successful in removing barriers to education, including economic, geographic and cultural. Our proven and successful model is based on active recruitment and strong transition support. We hope to share our successes and challenges on this trip.”
As well as Lakehead University and the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada, Nipissing University, University of Manitoba, University of Lethbridge, Vancouver Island University, and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology will take part in the trip.
“It’s important to meet with educators and administrators from other jurisdictions so we can learn how to enhance post-secondary education for Indigenous people here at home and throughout the world,” University of Regina’s Dr. Timmons said. “We need to share the challenges our students face in a variety of areas, examine potential solutions, and most importantly, develop and implement concrete strategies that will create a positive educational environment for all university students.”
One of the highlights of the mission will be a round table hosted by the Mexican Minister of Education.
Lakehead has a long history of meeting the educational aspirations of Aboriginal people through a variety of student support services and academic programs in the Faculties of Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health and Behavioural Sciences, Medicine, Natural Resources Management, Science and Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences and Humanities.
Lakehead University has one of the highest proportions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students among Ontario universities with more than 1,000 self-identified Aboriginal students at the Thunder Bay campus. The Aboriginal population, especially youth aged 15 to 19, is increasing. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has made an important impact on health care in small northern and Aboriginal communities. The new Faculty of Law will have a strong focus on recruiting Aboriginal students and developing a specialty in Aboriginal justice.