Lakehead Thunder Bay’s 2021 convocation ceremony will honour exceptional people

Lakehead University

Thunder Bay – NEWS – Lakehead University Thunder Bay will recognize five exceptional people at this year’s main convocation ceremony being held virtually on Saturday, May 29. 2021, at 11 am EST.

The Honourable Murray Sinclair, Rosalind Lockyer, and Donald Paterson will receive honorary degrees for their distinguished achievements.

“This year, during Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay convocation ceremonies, we will be conferring honorary degrees to three people who have dedicated their lives to making Northwestern Ontario, our province, and, indeed, our entire country, better for everyone,” said Dr. Moira McPherson, Lakehead University’s President and Vice-Chancellor.

Lakehead will also honour Seppo Paivalaninen and Vince Mirabelli by naming them Fellows of the University – for contributing to the growth, development, welfare and well-being of Lakehead University.

“Both Vince and Seppo have helped Lakehead become the exceptional university that students and alumni are proud to call their alma mater,” Dr. McPherson added.

The main convocation ceremony will also include an address from Dr. McPherson.

Honorary Degree Recipients

The Honourable Murray Sinclair LLB MSC IPC

The Honourable Murray Sinclair is an Anishinaabe and a member of the Peguis First Nation. He is a Fourth Degree Chief of the Midewiwin Society, a traditional healing and spiritual society of the Anishinaabe Nation responsible for protecting the teachings, ceremonies, laws, and history of the Anishinaabe.

He graduated from law school in 1979. He has been involved with the justice system in Manitoba for over 40 years, as a lawyer representing Indigenous clients, as an Adjunct

Professor of Law at Robson Hall, as Associate Chief Judge of Manitoba’s Provincial Court and as a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench.

He was the first Indigenous Judge appointed in Manitoba and Canada’s second. He served as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba and as Chief Commissioner of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He retired from the Bench and was appointed to the Senate in 2016.

After retiring from the Senate in early 2021, he returned to the practice of law and mentoring young lawyers. He is currently writing his memoirs.

He will be granted an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Rosalind Lockyer

After seven years at Memorial University and Lakehead University, Rosalind earned a psychology degree and teaching credentials.

After 20 years as a teacher, entrepreneur, and community developer, Rosalind became blatantly aware of systemic issues that keep women from achieving their life goals.

In 1995, Rosalind founded PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, channeling her experience, passion, and determination to work for positive change.

Today, PARO is recognized as the largest peer lending network in North America, and one of the strongest Canadian business development organizations supporting its unique form of women-centred social enterprise with more than 180+ Circles located across Ontario.

Rosalind has dedicated her life to supporting gender equality and building sustainable livelihoods for thousands of women who need it the most.

Supporting women who are disadvantaged by the intersectionality of poverty, racism, sexism, ageism, and disability is central to her role as Founder and CEO of PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise and co-founder of the Women’s Economic Council.

Rosalind is Treasurer of the International e-Rotary for Social Innovators, board director for Ontario for Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada, and Ontario Hub representative for the Women’s Entrepreneur Knowledge Hub.

Recognized for her notable efforts building PARO, her collaborative approach – with particular emphasis on women – Rosalind was called “one of the most remarkable social entrepreneurs in the world” by the Office of Social Enterprise, MEDEI, Ontario government.

She received the prestigious Influential Women of Northern Ontario Award-Public Sector, and the Women of the Decade in Community Leadership, the most prestigious Award offered by the Women’s Economic Forum 2018 in New Delhi, India.

Rosalind will be granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Donald Paterson

Donald Paterson was born in Fort William, Ontario – now Thunder Bay. He left Thunder Bay at age 12 to attend an independent school (Ashbury College) in Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa as a boarding student.

Following high school, Donald attended the University of Toronto attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science.

Donald returned to Thunder Bay and joined the family business, ending his career with Paterson GlobalFoods as Chairman of the corporation. He went on to chair the newly formed TBayTel Corporation and was instrumental in transforming TBayTel from a city department to a fully independent corporate entity with a modern governance structure.

During the course of his career, Donald performed many years of volunteer activity within Thunder Bay as well as provincially and nationally. He was the founding President of the Ontario Arts Foundation and served in that capacity for several years.

Donald married Lori Jean Hacio and together they raised a daughter and two sons of whom they are very proud. Donald and Lori are blessed with three grandchildren with another expected this year.

He will be granted an honorary Doctor of Commerce.


Seppo Paivalaninen

Seppo was born and raised in Northwestern Ontario. Having left Thunder Bay for his legal education, he returned with Janice in 1985 to raise their family. They were avid fans of their children in various activities and sports.

Seppo has served as a lawyer for over 40 years, enjoying his interactions with clients on issues important to them. For 17 years he also served Thunder Bay as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Finland.

His community involvement includes serving on the Boards of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Canadian Suomi Foundation, Lakehead University, and Suomi-Koti of Thunder Bay. He has also been an active member of numerous service clubs and community groups.

Seppo enjoys simple outdoor pleasures with Janice such as skiing, chopping firewood, or just sitting beside a summer lake.

Vince Mirabelli

Vince Mirabelli was born and raised in Thunder Bay to his loving parents Caterina and Giuseppe, who immigrated from Lamezia Terme, Calabria, Italy in 1954. His parents taught and instilled in him their own virtuous values of a hard work ethic while loving and taking care of your family and friends.

He became a realtor at the age of 27 and has enjoyed a successful 14-year career thus far. His career has allowed him the opportunity to support Lakehead University and give back to the community in any way he is able to.

His Lakehead University contributions include student bursaries to the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine as well as donations to new capital building campaigns. In the community his generosity knows no bounds as he is involved with many charitable organizations such as the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and Camp Quality.

In October of 2019, the Lakehead University Alumni Association named Vince as an Honourary Alumni for his contributions to Lakehead University and its students.

Vince will tell you that his most important accomplishment so far has been the birth of his son Matteo in February of 2020 just after his 40th birthday in January. He calls his newborn son a future Lakehead University Thunderwolf in the making.

Faculty Convocation Ceremonies

Approximately 2,600 students will graduate during faculty convocation ceremonies being held from June 7 to 11. Graduates from the class of 2020 are also invited to attend. Each ceremony can be watched live at

Faculty convocation schedule

Monday, June 7

  • 10 am – Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
  • 1 pm – Northern Ontario School of Medicine (West Campus)

Tuesday, June 8

  • 10 am – Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies
  • 1 pm – Faculty of Law

Wednesday, June 9

  • 10 am – Faculty of Natural Resources Management
  • 1 pm – Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

Thursday, June 10

  • 10 am – Faculty of Engineering
  • 1 pm – Faculty of Education

Friday, June 11

  • 10 am – Faculty of Business Administration