Ontario Supporting Indigenous Students at Lakehead University

Ontario Supporting Indigenous Students at Lakehead University

Ontario is helping advance post-secondary education for Indigenous peoples in the Northwest by investing in the planning of a new Indigenous centre at Lakehead University.

With an investment of $1 million through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), Lakehead University in Thunder Bay is proceeding with the engineering and design phase for the Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre. The proposed centre would advance academic opportunities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, and help increase university participation rates among Indigenous people of Ontario.

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, as well as support services for Indigenous students and community members. The facility will also house academic departments devoted to delivering Indigenous-specific programming.

Investing in research and innovation is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario's history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Pictured:  Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC, was at Lakehead University on Friday, July 15th to announce $1 million toward the Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre. 


“The Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre is a strong example of the relationship-building between Northern Ontario academic institutions and Indigenous peoples. We are pleased to play a positive and supportive role in building those relationships.”

– Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC


“It is important for Indigenous students to have a gathering place for cultural activities and support services. This investment in the Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre will help Lakehead University and local Indigenous communities fully support First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Creating prosperous, healthy and strong communities is the foundation for lasting reconciliation in Ontario.”

— David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation


“Lakehead takes pride in connecting our Indigenous students to the world. It is wonderful to see Ontario’s government appreciate and support our hard work with this investment.”

–  Dr. Brian J.R. Stevenson, President and Vice-Chancellor of Lakehead University



Since 2003, the province has invested more than $1 billion through the NOHFC in over 7,463 projects, leveraging more than $3.9 billion in direct economic activity and creating or sustaining over 28,100 jobs in Northern Ontario.

The NOHFC has invested over $188 million in 1,480 projects in the Greater Thunder Bay area, that have helped create or retain more than 5,700 jobs since 2003.

The NOHFC’s investments in research and innovation are part of the Ontario government’sGrowth Plan for Northern Ontario.

Ontario is on track to balance the budget next year, in 2017-18, which will also continue to lower the province’s debt-to-GDP ratio.


Growth Plan for Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation

Lakehead University

Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre


For interviews, please contact James Carleton, Minister's Office, 416-327-1208 or Brandon Walker, Lakehead University, 807-343-8372.