Ontario Newsroom

Reducing Barriers to Education and Employment in Rural Northwestern Ontario

News Release

Reducing Barriers to Education and Employment in Rural Northwestern Ontario

Ontario making NOHFC programs open to broader range of businesses and workers

FORT FRANCES - Ontario's government is helping increase access to post-secondary training and education for Indigenous and other residents in rural Northwestern Ontario.

Today, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, announced the Seven Generations Education Institute is receiving $2.25 million through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) for its Connected Classroom project.

The project allows students to study close to home in a culturally sensitive environment where they are most likely to succeed. It also reduces barriers to obtaining future employment by providing easier access to post-secondary education and addresses the demand for more Indigenous professionals working in the health-care field.

The institute is using provincial funding to digitally connect students from its four campuses - Dryden, Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout - with Lakehead University's main campus in Thunder Bay. This will be done by purchasing and installing telepresence immersive technology videoconferencing equipment to administer programs such as the nine-month All Nations Nursing Entry Program and a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Telepresence immersive technology is a video experience designed to deliver the feeling that participants in two or more locations are in the same room. When using a telepresence system, all participants are visible in life-size high-definition and no view is blocked by other participants. Presentations or other visual material can also be easily viewed.

"Our government's support for post-secondary education in rural Northern Ontario is creating good jobs and building prosperity and a better quality of life for northerners," said Minister Rickford. "We recognize the importance and benefits of helping people access higher learning in their local communities."

"The support from NOHFC will enable our students to access diverse programming not typically offered in our area," says Brent Tookenay, CEO of Seven Generations Education Institute. "The connected classroom technology we are investing in will provide an immersive and collaborative classroom experience and remove travel as a significant barrier for our students."

The NOHFC promotes and supports economic development across Northern Ontario by providing financial assistance to projects - big and small, rural and urban - that stimulate growth, job creation and develop a skilled workforce.

Ontario is working to develop new NOHFC programs that:

  • make it easier for more people and businesses to apply
  • support more projects in rural northern communities
  • target both existing and emerging market opportunities
  • provide more work opportunities for Indigenous people
  • address the skilled labour shortage in the north.

"We have heard from northerners who want NOHFC programs to be open to a broader range of businesses and workers so that the unique needs of Northern Ontario communities are met," said Minister Rickford. "Through these proposed changes, Ontario's government will continue to build strong and resilient communities while supporting an environment where businesses can thrive, grow and create good jobs."

Promoting and stimulating economic development initiatives in Northern Ontario is part of the government's plan to build Ontario together. Ontario's balanced and prudent plan is creating more jobs and opportunities in the north and keeping more money in people's pockets.

Quick Facts

  • Seven Generations Education Institute is an Indigenous-owned not-for-profit institution that provides educational programming to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at the secondary, post-secondary and vocational levels.
  • In addition to nursing programs, the Connected Classroom project offers other training and course opportunities, such as culinary classes and a mobile driver training simulator.
  • Since June 2018, the NOHFC has invested more than $147 million in 1,003 projects in Northern Ontario. This has leveraged more than $699 million in investment and created or retained over 3,000 jobs.

Media Contacts



Arts and Culture Business and Economy Education and Training Government Home and Community Jobs and Employment Rural and North