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Lakehead's top 10 of 2015

Orillia Packet,
Stephanie Edwards,
January 13 2016

2015 was an exceptional year for students at Lakehead University's Orillia campus. Thanks to our great community, staff, faculty and students, there were many highlights. It was difficult to narrow it down to 10, but this list gives you an idea of the wide array of partnerships, achievements and events that helped make 2015 one of the best years yet.

1. At this year's convocation, an honorary doctor of music degree was presented to Gordon Lightfoot, who is regarded as the most prolific and greatest Canadian singer-songwriter of all time. Following his acceptance, graduates and guests were treated to a special musical performance by the Orillia-born, and internationally renowned, recording artist.

2. Lakehead Orillia athletes had some great achievements in 2015: the creation of the women's and men's varsity indoor soccer teams, an impressive showing by our varsity golf team at the OCAA championship in September and outstanding teamwork by our women's and men's hockey teams at tournaments throughout the year.

3. In partnership with Ontario Nature, the Ontario master naturalist program launched in May. The first of its kind in Canada, the program provides an opportunity for those interested in nature and environmental stewardship to receive a master naturalist certificate. The six-module program was passionately spearheaded by local, award-winning naturalist Bob Bowles.

4. Almost a dozen Lakehead Orillia students joined faculty members from Lakehead and other universities, as well as child development experts, to present a wide range of educational seminars to delegates at the First Global Conference on Holistic Learning and Development. The event attracted more than 160 delegates from around the province.

5. May 15 marked the official beginning of a new role for Kim Fedderson, as principal of the Orillia campus. Lakehead president and vice-chancellor Brian Stevenson announced the new title and responsibilities to a large gathering of students, faculty, staff and community leaders. As principal, Fedderson says he "looks forward to continuing to serve the university and the region as we develop new ways to meet the needs of our students and our community."

6. A partnership between Lakehead Orillia and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Orillia and District resulted in the university receiving a national award, the Scholastic Partnership Award, from the BBBS national organization. The award is a distinction presented annually to a school or university that has made it possible for BBBS agencies to serve increased numbers of children. The Orillia agency was able to almost double the number of children served this year as a result of Lakehead's participation.

7. In June, Natalya Timoshkina, from Lakehead Orillia's School of Social Work, and her team, along with the Alliance Against Modern Slavery, ran the successful Summer Institute on Human Trafficking. The event attracted delegates representing 40 organizations from across Ontario and beyond. The proceedings will become a platform for continuing education and collective action for those working on issues of human trafficking in the region.

8. Lakehead Orillia welcomed County of Simcoe council to orientation activities to celebrate its support of the Orillia campus. During a special breakfast get-together Sept. 10, county Warden Gerry Marshall presented Lakehead with a $2-million cheque, bringing the total amount of contributions to Lakehead by the county to $5.5 million since 2009.

9. The Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) ran many successful events, including the first Country Throwdown, which featured performances from country stars Runaway Angels and Ty Baynton. LUSU also presented the well-attended Mental Health Outreach Week, dedicated to providing resources and opening discussion to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

10. Our biggest achievement of 2015 was the year-long celebration of Lakehead's 50th anniversary. In honour of this milestone, Lakehead was present at many local events, such as Orillia Canada Day celebrations and the Mariposa Folk Festival. Orillia's annual Festival of Banners featured our special "shore to shore" 50th-anniversary theme. Celebrations wrapped up with the 50th-anniversary Homecoming Dinner and Dance Party at Casino Rama. All of the support from students, staff, faculty and community members made Lakehead's 50th year one to remember in Orillia.

Stephanie Edwards is a fourth-year Lakehead University student who works with Lakehead Orillia's Communications office.

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