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Ontario Supporting Indigenous Students at Lakehead University

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Ontario Supporting Indigenous Students at Lakehead University

Province Investing in Innovative Learning Centre

Ontario is supporting community building, economic growth and reconciliation in the north by investing in an Indigenous learning centre that will offer expanded access and supports for students.

The Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre will provide Indigenous students with an environment that is focused on student and community well-being and that reflects Indigenous identity and culture. The centre will also help boost educational outcomes and encourage economic growth in the area.

The building will serve as a hub for the university's Indigenous students and the wider community. It will include:

  • Classroom and meeting spaces
  • A gathering and performance space
  • Support services for Indigenous students and community members.

The facility will also house academic departments devoted to delivering Indigenous-specific programming as well as innovative resources and technology to improve access and outreach to rural and remote communities.

Supporting Indigenous postsecondary students is one of the many steps on Ontario's journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects the government's commitment to work with Indigenous partners, creating a better future for everyone in the province.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario intends to invest $10 million over three years for the development of the Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre.
  • In 2015-16, approximately 19,450 Indigenous learners attended Ontario colleges and universities full-time or part-time.
  • In 2017-18, there was a 36 per cent increase in students who self-identified as Indigenous receiving OSAP as compared with the previous academic year.
  • Ontario has invested $4.1 billion in capital funding for colleges and universities since 2003.

Additional Resources


“Our government’s approach to postsecondary education is all about access and building a stronger future for Indigenous students and communities through education for Indigenous students. It’s why we’ve made tuition free for hundreds of thousands of college and university students, and why this year we recognized Indigenous Institutes as a pillar of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. The Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre continues the work of greater access to lifelong learning for Indigenous people and is part of Ontario's journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

Mitzie Hunter

Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development

“Centres like Gichi Kendaasiwan provide the resources and environment for Indigenous students to succeed, all in a setting that reflects the culture and traditions of Indigenous people. We are a proud partner in this worthwhile initiative, growing Lakehead University’s already strong presence in our community.”

Michael Gravelle

Minister of Northern Development and Mines, MPP for Thunder Bay—Superior North

“When students travel from far away to go to school, it’s important for them to feel welcomed and at home. The Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre supports this by providing a culturally appropriate space filled with programs and opportunities for students, families, and community members to come together and practice their traditions while engaging in lifelong learning.”

David Zimmer

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

“We have initiated and worked hard to bring to fruition the Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre under the direction of the Ogimaawin Aboriginal Governance Council (OAGC) since 2007. The vision for an Indigenous centre at Lakehead began in the early 1990s. We are delighted with the province's commitment. To have the financial support to realize a close to 30-year vision for Indigenous students at Lakehead is tremendous. We look forward to having this home-away-from-home centre become a reality. We are convinced that the centre will be a major contribution to the life of this university and the community at large.”

Beverly Sabourin

Lakehead University Vice-Provost Aboriginal Initiatives (ret’d), and Dr. Peggy Smith, former Chair, Kendaasiwin Steering Committee

“Our deepest thanks for this generous contribution that helps us realize a dream started by our Indigenous faculty and staff, and community members, years ago. The Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre will honour and support Lakehead University's vibrant Indigenous student presence in the heart of our Thunder Bay campus.”

Dr. Moira McPherson

Interim President & Vice Chancellor, Lakehead University

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