Letter to the Editor

 Re: The Broken State of LUASC in Orillia

 From Chris Glover, Orillia


Dear Editor,

I am writing to you in response to the article by Thomas Rose published in your February 3, 2016 issue (The broken state of LUASC in Orillia) regarding services for Aboriginal students at Lakehead’s Orillia campus.

First, I would like to thank Thomas for taking the time to express his comments and concerns.  It is vitally important for the Lakehead community to hear thoughtful comments like these from students. It also gives me an opportunity, on behalf of the Lakehead administrative leadership team, to share information about our recent progress related to Aboriginal initiatives at the Orillia campus.

Secondly, I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Chris Glover and I am the new Director of Student Affairs at the Orillia campus, as of November 2015, and the Acting Director of the Student Success Centre (on both campuses).

The Student Affairs Department in Orillia includes Academic Advising, Records and Registration, Accessibility Services, Athletics and Recreation, the Health and Wellness Centre, Student Success Centre and Student Central.  I’m very happy to report that “Aboriginal Initiatives” has now become part of the services coordinated by Student Affairs in Orillia. This new accountability reinforces our commitment to providing the best possible services and learning environment for all of our students.

As a result of the dedicated focus on Aboriginal Initiatives at the Orillia campus, I have been formally added as a member of the Lakehead University Ogimaawin-Aboriginal Governance Council’s (O-AGC) Advisors’ Group. This will help to ensure our connection with Aboriginal communities and the needs of current and prospective students.

I am pleased to report a number of exciting developments currently taking place at the Orillia campus to support Aboriginal students. In September, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives, announced a $20,000 fund to support the activities of the Lakehead University Aboriginal Student Committee (LUASC). And in late November, Lakehead University was notified of its successful grant application for funding from Ontario’s Targeted Initiatives Fund (TIF) to support Aboriginal Initiatives in collaboration with students.

Since receiving notification of this funding, many of us have been working with partners in Thunder Bay to get things moving as quickly as possible.  As a result of this funding, we are now in the process of recruiting a full-time staff member to help deliver Aboriginal Initiatives at the Orillia campus.  This new staff member will be responsible for a Coordinated Learning Access Network (CLAN) program, which offers educational supports to Aboriginal students, as well as the student-to-student Aboriginal Mentorship Program (AMP). Working as part of the Orillia Student Affairs team, this staff person will also serve as the primary contact for Aboriginal students and the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives at the Orillia campus, and will be responsible for providing guidance and support to the Aboriginal students on campus.  A dedicated fund has been set aside to support student programming and create a stronger Aboriginal presence.

I also look forward to announcing, in the near future, special conference opportunities of interest to Aboriginal students and others. These conferences, the Canadian Roots Exchange National Youth Conference, and the Canadian Federation of Students’ Racialized & Indigenous Student Experience (RISE) conference, will give student delegates a chance to meet with other students to share stories, struggles, and to promote reconciliation among all Canadians.

I would like to thank the many folks involved to date in supporting these initiatives –Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Vice-Provost, Aboriginal Initiatives; Orillia Campus Principal Kim Fedderson; Frank Cappadocia, Assoc. Vice-President, Administration, Orillia; and Marian Ryks-Szelekovszky, Vice-Provost, Student Affairs – to name a few, who have worked tirelessly to secure important funding for Aboriginal Initiatives at the Orillia campus.

If anyone is interested in further information or being more involved in Aboriginal Initiatives, I welcome their engagement.  I can be reached at dir.saor@lakeheadu.ca.