Alumni Magazine

Spring 2017




When I was appointed Chancellor of Laurentian University in 2013, I was honoured to be a part of an institution that, to me, was the essence of a true Canadian university. A bilingual university with a tri-cultural mandate, and one that is deeply rooted in northern heritage: surrounded by five lakes, revealing all four seasons and nestled in a natural landscape.

When I visit the campus every spring and fall for convocation, I’m thrilled to learn that along with its evolution over the years, Laurentian’s traditional Canadian values remain true today. During convocation, and at various events throughout the year, I’m fortunate to meet with thousands of students and graduates who embody the same values.

I am proud to be part of the Laurentian University community and to be Canadian. I think of my incredible experience at Laurentian's 2017 Model Parliament in January. I had the pleasure of being the governor general for the day and witness the return of more than 30 alumni to the Senate and more than 120 current students to the House of Commons. It's invigorating to see the potential impact that Laurentian students and alumni could make on the wonderful world of Canadian politics. I look forward to attending again in the future and meeting more of you in the years to come.

Kind wishes,

Steve Paikin




When we held the consultations in 2011 that lead to the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, the Board of Governors wanted to make sure that it was comprehensive, but clearly focused on five key goals that would enhance the student experience at Laurentian. Our collective accomplishments have yielded positive results, demonstrating the value of a joint effort from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other friends of Laurentian.

I wish to extend my sincere thank you to all of you who have contributed to the success of the university during this time. Some of you advocated for new student-centered programming or wrote letters to help secure government funding for new facilities. Many of you have connected us with community partners to foster collaboration, so that together, we could contribute to the prosperity and well-being of the City of Greater Sudbury and of northeastern Ontario.

We are now in the process of developing the university’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. I hope that you will seize the many opportunities that will emerge in the months ahead to have your say about the future ambitions of your alma mater.

Warm regards,

Dominic Giroux



Investment Advisor, DiBrina Group

Greetings fellow alumni,

It’s been nearly a decade since I became a member of the Laurentian University Alumni Association (LUAA), and I am thrilled and honoured to be able to represent all of you as president.

The alumni board is made up of so many incredible volunteers. We do our best to serve each and every one of your interests. Though we come from a variety of different backgrounds, we all have a shared vision and purpose, and we’re proud to be a part of a group of Voyageurs that stands 57,000 strong.

I am equally proud of all of the exciting things that have happened during my two-year tenure as president, and five-year tenure as board member. In the past year alone we’ve released our first digital alumni magazine, developed a new strategic plan, launched our One Million Hours of Volunteerism project, and hosted dozens of events around the world.

The LUAA has another ambitious year in store, and we hope you take advantage of everything we’re doing to ensure you continue to have a positive experience with your alma mater.

So come back to visit, attend one of our events, or join a board or committee. Take advantage of preferred rates from our affinity partners such as TD Meloche Monnex for home and auto insurance, Canada Life for health, dental and life insurance, or the MBNA alumni credit card. Capitalize on exclusive discounts offered to you by various businesses just for being a Laurentian graduate.

We can all benefit from being Laurentian alumni, and we all have something that we can contribute to. Whether it’s logging your volunteer hours with us and making a difference in your community, providing mentorship to a current student in need, or making a gift to support the leaders of tomorrow, your involvement, big or small, goes a long way.

Like many of you, I often reminisce about my time at Laurentian and regard my university years as some of the best of my life. Over time, some of you may have lost touch with your alma mater, and if you have, that’s okay. There’s never been a better time to reconnect.

I hope that you will make your way back and remember that you always have a home at Laurentian.

All the best,

Brandon Beeson



The mandate of the Laurentian University Alumni Association (LUAA) is to encourage lifelong relationships with graduates of the university by inviting them to participate in on-campus and community initiatives/partnerships. The LUAA works to promote the welfare and advance the interests, influence and usefulness of the University as the institution continues to evolve into northern Ontario’s premier educational facility.

Take a look at the LUAA’s 2016-2019 Strategic Plan

to see the new vision, mission and the three clear goals that have been established.




Brandon Beeson, B.Sc. ’08

Investment Advisor,

Dibrina Group



Chas Anselmo, BA ’04

Senior Manager,



Yves Y. Pelletier, B.Sc. ’96

Founder and Principal,

Education Connections



Michael Pigozzo, H.B.Com. ’98

Controller/Director of Finance, Nickel City Steel Limited and the Gregorini Group of Companies



Diane Côté Mihalek,

H.B.Com. SPAD ’89

Event Director,

DCM Event Management


Rachel Meehan

Director, Alumni Relations,

Laurentian University



Roberta Bald, B.Sc. ’75

Criminal Defence Counsel,

Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice



Guy Robineau,

BA ’07, MBA ’13

Entrepreneur, Mortgage Advisor,

Dominion Lending Centres



Megan Houle, B.Sc. ’07, B.Ed. ’08

eLearning Training and Development,

Laurentian University



Gabriel Godin, H.B.Com. ’95

Senior Manager,

Desjardins Business Services



Adam Cecchetto, B.Sc. ’03

Senior Environmental Scientist,

Denison Environmental



Josée Campeau-Rousselle, BSL ’99, B.Ed. ’00

Manager, Communications, Writing and Media Relations, Collège Boréal



Mark Solomon, BA ’07, BA ’99

Director, Student Conduct, Seneca College



Andrew Baker, H.B.Com.

SPAD ’05


Director, Games, Canadian Olympic Committee


Hugo Chen, MBA ’11

Manager, International Programs, Laurentian University



John Jozsa, H.B.Com. ’89

Director, Green Energy and Transmission ENBRIDGE



Jean-Paul Rains, H.B.Com. SPAD ’09

Director, Digital Strategies,

Laurentian University



Peter Faggioni, BA ’85

President, 4K Business Innovations



Jody Cameron

President, Laurentian Association of Mature and Part-time Students (LAMPS)



The LUAA is always looking for volunteers. Whether you can help host an event in your city, or join the LUAA Board, we have a level of commitment that can fit your schedule. Get in touch with us at or visit for more information.




Ask any volunteer and most will tell you that they get from at least as much as they give to the experience. As the One Million Hours of Volunteerism campaign continues to grow at Laurentian University, former students reveal that volunteering at Camp Quality Northern Ontario provided exactly that feeling.

“I started volunteering at Camp Quality because, at the time, I had my mind set on medical school,” says Allison Kennedy, B.Sc. ’13. “After one summer, it was absolutely incredible hearing some of the stories and what these kids have experienced at such an early age. I fell in love with the camp and have been volunteering ever since.”

Camp Quality Canada is a special place that makes a big difference for children with cancer and their families, offering cancer patients from 4 to 18 years old an opportunity to escape their illness for an action-packed week of fun. The camp is free of charge for families, and pairs children and their siblings with adult companions who provide guidance and mentoring throughout the week.

One of eight camps across the country, Camp Quality Northern Ontario is located at the west arm of Lake Nipissing. It has grown to be one of the largest Camp Quality locations in Canada. It set its record turnout in 2014 with 128 volunteers, 58 campers and 18 siblings. Besides the week-long summer camp, the northern branch offers a reunion in October and three family fun days in the winter, in Sudbury, Kirkland Lake and Sault Ste. Marie.

Kennedy, who is now director and going into her eighth summer at Camp Quality Northern Ontario, believes the experience provides children not only with a fun-filled week, but also with the opportunity to take a step away from the seriousness of their illness.

“With the challenges some of our campers face, this camp truly is a time for them to relax and be kids again,” she says. “Whether they’re currently battling cancer or resiliently in remission, this week is entirely for them to enjoy themselves. From making crafts to playing by the beachfront, the excitement these kids get gives a completely different perspective on life and challenges they face day-to-day.”

While Camp Quality is a time for kids to appreciate a weeklong summer camp, Kennedy says the parents also get the opportunity to see their children have fun.

“Cancer is never something you want to see a family member go through, especially your child,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine the feelings you get seeing your child go through treatment. However, when we go pick up the kids for camp, not only are they excited, but the parents are just as happy. You see what a difference this makes for them, which means so much to me.”

Volunteer turns director

Kennedy began as a companion and quickly became more involved with the camp’s organizing committee. There, she has held positions such as teen leader, volunteer coordinator, and assistant director. She’s now in her third year of directing the camp.

Kennedy says each of her different positions has taught her skills that she’s incorporated in her professional career.

“There are so many different aspects of this organization,” Kennedy says. “It’s like running a little community with a lot of different areas to focus on. Something like a budget, for example, I’ve never put together before, but now I have experience with. Also, communication becomes an important aspect because you have to work with a wide range of people with different personalities and backgrounds.”

Kennedy is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine at Laurentian University. Her research focuses on the effects of low-dose radiation.

A graduate of Laurentian's PhD in biomolecular sciences in 2016, Kennedy is grateful to have volunteered at Camp Quality Northern Ontario throughout her years of study. She hopes other students and graduates can take full advantage of these experiences.

“It feels incredible to give back,” Kennedy says. “I get so much more out of the camp than I actually put in. The hard days of planning, going to camp and getting little sleep are really worth it, especially when you meet the kids and the families. You see what a difference this makes for them and I wouldn’t change that for the world.”

Another volunteer, same great experience

Dan DeNoble, H.B.Com.’07, is another volunteer who has nothing but good things to say about the camp. Celebrating his 12th year as a volunteer for Camp Quality Northern Ontario, DeNoble is a financial planner with RBC.

“It’s a really special place,” says DeNoble. “Not only are the kids awesome, but the connections you will make with the volunteers truly makes it worth it. I’m always blown away by the energy of this camp, and how these kids and volunteers enjoy themselves. It is a life-changing experience and something that makes you appreciate every moment to the fullest.”

DeNoble is also the camp’s fundraising coordinator, a position that sees him at the helm of many events throughout the year.

“We are fortunate,” he says. “The Sudbury community and the North are very generous and we have long-standing donors who help us. The biggest challenge we have is following up with donors, maintaining the relationship and helping them grow. Most people know what we are doing and have no problem giving us support whether big or small.”

While DeNoble has spent more than 10 years volunteering for Camp Quality Northern Ontario, he believes giving his time is the least he can do.

“It’s important for me to give back,” he says. “Growing up in Sudbury, I was very fortunate to go to school here and work here, so I’m blessed to be able to volunteer and do what I can to make this community thrive and do well.”

DeNoble sees his time at Camp Quality continuing for years to come, and urges students and graduates to get engaged and start volunteering. “It’s one of the most selfless things you can do,” he says. “It’s a pretty fun and rewarding experience.”

But DeNoble adds that it’s also important to find a volunteer experience that matches your passions.

“It might not be Camp Quality that intrigues you. Try to find something you are passionate about and you enjoy doing. I truly believe the world would be a better place if people would commit their time and contribute their skills in organizations like this. A lot of these charities need new people and fresh ideas that help them grow and prosper for the next generation.”

For more information about volunteering or supporting Camp Quality Northern Ontario, visit

To find out more about the alumni One Million Hours of Volunteerism project and how you can get involved, visit




Pierre Ouellette, BA ’92, MA ’94, worked for many years in education, first as a professor, then vice-president and, in the end, as president of the l'Université de Hearst. He is an entrepreneur and news junkie and, since last October, is director of French services for Ontario at Radio-Canada. Loyal Franco-Ontarian of the North, Ouellette left his home with a mission to put forth an effort nothing short of worthy of their vibrant, yet minority, presence.

“I would have had a really hard time leaving the North if not for this strong calling to go and develop the services at Radio-Canada for our francophone community. I may be farther away physically, being in Toronto now, but my heart remains in the North,” confides Ouellette.

Strength in numbers

Long-time believer in the power of a public broadcasters and media for everything that revolves around public discourse and shaping the country, Ouellette was recruited to make good on his conviction through public broadcaster. “Radio-Canada contributes by allowing Canadians to understand and take their rightful place in the country, recognize and develop their belonging to the culture and take part in the democratic process. These are things I firmly believe in,” he explains.

In his eyes, the services of public broadcasters create a fabric that weaves together all Canadians by talking about them and what’s happening in their communities. They highlight artists, important moments, everything from culture to educational institutions. They are the intersection of society’s key elements.

Speaking of education, Ouellette’s career cannot be covered without mentioning this field in which he worked for many years. “It’s so important to have universities in smaller cities. The l'Université de Hearst and Laurentian are really significant to the development of communities, and of the Francophonie too,” he emphasizes.

Entrepreneurship – the school of life

Whether publishing a book of photography featuring northern Ontario landscapes and life, or founding a francophone newspaper in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Ouellette has often been the driving force behind new initiatives that are a testament to his entrepreneurial abilities.

“I believe that being an entrepreneur provides an education in itself for all kinds of things in life, and also forces you to develop good work habits. When you’re your own boss, it becomes obvious that it’s crucial to work… a lot,” he says.

Ouellette is also actively involved in his community, whether launching projects or as member – even founder – of boards of directors.

Radio-Canada’s general director of regional services, Marco Dubé was responsible for recruiting Ouellette to the corporation, seeking him out because he is a well-known community leader and a man who fully grasps the importance of the French-language Canadian broadcasting corporation.

He brings so much enthusiasm and skill to his position. We are very grateful that he’s joined our team.




If you don’t achieve the results that you hoped the first time, go back to the drawing board and start again. More often than not, that is the reality for young people who engage on a postsecondary path while they’re still at a formative and impressionable age. Marco Dubé,  BA ’94 is a perfect example. He had a haphazard start in in the commerce program and then changed paths, which – little by little – gave him the foundation to thrive while working for a cause close to his heart – the francophone identity in the world of media and information.

As current general director of regional services at Radio-Canada, he aptly weaved his way from from the small Ontario community of Fauquier to Montreal, with a pit stop in Sudbury, where he earned his degree. At Laurentian, he discovered a fondness for French and literature, so he pursued his studies in those areas, not realizing that his path would lead to a career in journalism.

​Francophonie at the forefront

Dubé vividly remembers arriving at Laurentian in the early 90s, which he now describes as a formative period. “Ontario has a rich francophone culture that goes a long way back. My studies at Laurentian allowed me to become more aware of the history, and its importance. I learned so much during those years… not only did I acquire all kinds of skills, but I developed a sense of belonging to this community, and that has been a badge of honour for me at Radio-Canada for 20 years now,” Dubé explains.

An advocate for the francophone cause at Laurentian, Dubé joined L’Orignal déchaîné, the French-language student newspaper, where his passion for communicating information was born. “In journalism, you actually get paid to learn things about the world around you, and to communicate them to the public. Being able to help people understand what’s going on in their surroundings, to help them be educated and informed citizens, is an interesting public service mission with which I really connected,” he adds.

During those formative years, he had opportunities to rub shoulders with people at Radio-Canada, who eventually opened doors for him to a professional career as a reporter, producer, announcer, executive producer, news editor, and communications director. In his current role, he stays attuned to the needs of francophone communities across the country and makes sure that the corporation evolves to correspond to those needs, especially in minority settings.

“The idea is that, whatever we’re doing – radio, TV, web – represents these communities locally to support their growth and vibrancy. That’s our main concern at regional services, to stay current on their communities,” Dubé says.

According to his colleague Pierre Ouellette, Dubé is a great person with whom to work. He thinks straight and communicates his ideas clearly. Undoubtedly, French Ontario is privileged to now have two native Franco-Ontarians from the North serving both the Ontario and Canadian francophones.




The evolution of the medical field over the past decades is undeniable. More than ever, patients take their health into their own hands and defend their own beliefs. In the same way, feminist causes have also gathered steam. What’s the connection between the two? One passionate midwife who is leveraging her knowledge to help northern Ontarian and Haitian communities.

Since receiving her degree from Laurentian in 2006, Kirsty Bourret has been practicing her profession as a midwife. “When I started working in this field, it was harder to find models and structures that supported women in their decisions. That’s why I was drawn to this profession,” she admits. The professional philosophy and feminist principles are what led her to the midwifery environment, where students learn to give power back to the patients to make them aware of their own decision making.

From women’s causes to international development

“I already knew that I wanted to do research and a master’s degree, and that I wanted to work abroad,” explains this professional midwife. “The Midwifery Program at Laurentian really gave me the chance to explore all of that.”

Bourret’s career and experiences certainly served as stepping stones. After graduating from the master’s program in 2011, she moved to Haiti to provide assistance to the victims of the massive earthquake that struck in January 2010. “My interests aligned with international development in midwifery and it’s really important to me to provide maternal healthcare to women who don’t have access,” she adds.

During her three years abroad, Bourret worked for many non-profit organizations, including Midwives for Haiti. She developed close relationships with the people of the Petit-Trou-de-Nippes community and also met the man she would marry and start a family with. Shortly after they returned to settle in Canada, last October, the Haitian community – still working to gather strength – suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew that hit full force.

“We really felt trapped after hearing the news, since we weren’t there to see what was going on or to help. So we decided to launch a campaign and go back,” tells Bourret.

Despite rapid response in the most urgent situations, it can still take a long time for help to arrive to the most remote areas, which are often affected to a greater extent. Having such an acute sense of belonging to the community, Bourret made it her duty to contact community leaders and help direct aid most efficiently.

Planting seeds – a mission for the future

“We have an organization – Haitians Planting Seeds for Change (Planter pour le changement) – that works with farmers to support agriculture in the Petit-Trou-de-Nippes region,” says Bourret. “After assessing the situation, we drew up a budget for rebuilding homes, planting and seeding, and, within two weeks, we had raised $18,000.” To this day, the team has built 27 houses and three nurseries where fruit trees, trees for construction and many vegetables were planted. Bourret intends to return in July to continue the mission.

Once a midwife in Sudbury, as well as in Nunavut, Bourret now practices in the Thunder Bay area. Since entering the job market, and despite all of her time spent in Haiti, she has practically always been a faculty member at Laurentian, transferring to midwifery students, via the web, the knowledge she has acquired.

“I want to encourage students to do different things. I want them to recognize that there are all kinds of high calibre professionals who complete their degrees at Laurentian. I’m a perfect example… I learned my trade, earned a degree, and ran with it!”



With a minimumof 10 members and an executive team (President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer), chapters can be created based on geographic area, academic program, athletic group, residence or other constituency. Chapters allow you to reconnect with fellow Laurentian graduates, host events, promote Laurentian University and/or raise funds for your alma mater.

If you are interested in launching a chapter or have an idea for an alumni event, please e-mail




How a back-to-basics approach paired with modern analytics may help Indigenous health research

While the challenges facing families in First Nations communities are well documented, it is critical to understand the foundation of strength that exists and continues to emanate from the culture of the people. This is evident from their connection to land, language and their lineage. Substance misuse in the form of alcohol, solvents and drugs must be understood within a context of a history of colonization, racism, poverty and intergenerational trauma stemming from the impact of residential schools and discriminating child welfare practices.  The inequity in determinants of health through an indigenous lens has left many First Nations communities crippled in their capacity to address substance use and mental health issues.

Carol Hopkins, BSW (ISW) ’95, believes the best way to face the epidemic is head on, through indigenous culture, language, connection to land and community. Hopkins is executive director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, formerly the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation. The foundation is mandated to implement two national frameworks designed to promote strengths, and indigenous culture as the means to address the complexities of substance abuse and mental health issues in indigenous communities across Canada.

Hopkins believes that success will come from developing strategies that work with the strengths of each unique indigenous culture, and avoiding the common pitfall of painting the continuum of indigenous cultures with a single stroke.

“The solutions have to address the complexities of the challenges indigenous people face,” she says.

A framework for healing and wellness

A national survey of First Nations communities (completed between 2008 and2010) reported that alcohol and drug use and abuse was considered to be the number one challenge for community wellness faced by on-reserve communities (82.6 per cent of respondents), followed by housing (70.7 per cent) and employment (65.9 per cent).

In 2011, the Assembly of First Nations, National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation and Health Canada released Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations People in Canada. The national framework aims to address substance abuse among First Nations people in Canada, providing guidelines for the co-ordination and delivery of health services around the issue.

“The purpose of the Honouring Our Strengths framework is to find a way forward in dealing with substance abuse and mental health,” says Hopkins. “It’s a framework that proposes a continuum of care in the context of the social determinants of health and promotes the collaboration and co-ordination between different agencies, communities and government to be able to address this.”

The determinants of health are the social and economic factors that influence people’s health, both connected to, and affecting health. These often fall outside the realm of health programming. They are sometimes described as the “root causes” of poor health, that include general social and economic factors, such as income, education, employment, living conditions, social support, and access to health services. Understanding the impact and relationship between these factors supports a more holistic view of health.

Exploring issues around First Nations health

However, in addition to social and economic factors, First Nations health is widely understood also to be affected by a range of historical and culturally-specific factors. These additional factors are sometimes referred to as First Nations or aboriginal-specific determinants of health and include loss of language and connection to the land, residential school abuses, systemic racism, environmental destruction, and cultural, spiritual, emotional and mental disconnectedness.

“The Honouring Our Strengths framework came from a national dialogue that I had the honour of co-chairing,” says Hopkins. “The process worked from the ground up as a conversation with First Nations and it really gave us two things: first, it identified that that there’s no single indigenous culture. There are many different languages and each language brings a unique culture. Second, that local indigenous culture has to be central to the way we address substance-use issues.”

Historically, she says, indigenous culture was outlawed. Reconnecting to that culture and to the knowledge held within the indigenous worldview is important for promoting wellness.

As just one example, Hopkins points to a moment in time when the Innu people of Labrador were in crisis, in the early 1990s. As solvent abuse and suicide were widespread, the community reached out for help.

“The response was to send non-native professional social workers, therapists, psychologists, and so on to the community without any context of history or values of the community,” Hopkins says. “Trying to apply those approaches didn’t make sense, didn’t have meaning, so they didn’t work.”

The National Youth Solvent Abuse Program was established, offering residential treatment rooted in culture for youth who have substance use and mental health issues.

A path to leadership

After completing her Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work degree at Laurentian University, Hopkins obtained her Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto and was immediately hired as executive director of the Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre.

“When I left in 2007, I had accumulated sufficient data to demonstrate the effectiveness of indigenous cultural approaches,” she says. “For example, we had a 100 per cent completion rate. Every youth coming in finished. By comparison, the national average, whether talking about mainstream of other youth solvent programs, is 50 per cent. Another stat showed us that 30 per cent of our youth were in school while coming for treatment. After completing treatment, 75 per cent were in school. There are plenty of other indicators showing culture is a big part of success in these programs.”

The experience helped inform Hopkins’ leadership in creating the Honouring Our Strengths framework and, later, the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum framework.

“What’s often missed in conversations about the needs of indigenous peoples in Canada is the strength that still exists among indigenous peoples and their communities and families,” Hopkins says. “When we think about indigenous people, often the perception is that it’s only the problems that exist. That’s not the truth. There are surely significant issues, but there is still strength in the community. The community simply doesn’t have the resources to leverage those strengths to respond to the issues. That’s a large part of the work we have to do. Reaching an understanding on policy that can support these communities.”

Indigenous youth, history and identity

Hopkins believes many of the addiction and mental health challenges present in indigenous communities today trace back to colonization, racism and the residential schools program.

“First Nations children and communities who don’t have an understanding about colonization and residential school systems don’t have an explanation to understand the issues they’re facing in their communities,” she says. “They end up internalizing those issues and attaching them to their identity. They think about poverty in the community and they don’t see that kind of poverty anywhere else in Canada as they watch TV. And if the rest of Canada doesn’t live this way, well, we must be stuck living like this because we’re indigenous and something is wrong with us.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is an example of the success that can come from digging into traditional knowledge and culture, and using it to heal deep wounds.

More research at LU

Meanwhile, at Laurentian, the research continues—the university just received a major funding injection for indigenous research.

In December, the university appointed its first Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health. Dr. Jennifer Walker will collaborate with First Nations and Métis communities using population-level data on health conditions and services across all stages of life, with an emphasis on chronic illness and older populations. The aim is to improve the use of indigenous-specific health data for health services and policy planning.

According to Hopkins, the type and depth of health information we have on many cultural groups in Canada doesn’t exist for indigenous people. There is no detailed population information on diabetes in indigenous communities (although it’s estimated to be a problem) or Alzheimer’s disease.

“We don’t have the same kind of clinical data for these issues. We need research focused on indigenous people that allows us to use indigenous knowledge, and is inclusive of indigenous knowledge keepers like elders. And that research needs to be conducted using methods that make sense for indigenous people. We can do this and still create credible outcomes,” Hopkins says.




Anthony Morgan, Graduate Diploma ’14, makes spectacular science anywhere and everywhere

On a Friday afternoon in 2013, a group of twenty-something professionals bought black garbage bags and duct tape and started taping Anthony Morgan, Graduate Diploma (Science Communication) ’14, to the front window of the Goorin Bros Hat Shop in downtown Toronto.

A rush-hour crowd of about 300 stopped to watch the curiosity at the corner of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue.

Morgan was the mastermind of the spectacle as well as the lab rat: he and his friends were conducting a genuine scientific experiment to see if they could vacuum seal him to a window.

They also wanted to test out an idea: could they make a living doing “guerrilla science”?

Once they were finished taping, the team used Morgan’s grandmother’s vacuum to suck out the excess air. Then the stool Morgan was standing on was kicked out from under his feet.

Morgan remained fixed to the window. The crowd went wild.

“Everyone had their cell phones out, recording. They were asking questions about the science, engaging with us. They were excited,” Morgan says, laughing at the memory.

His path was clear: “Why would we ever stop trying to do this?

A business is born

In 2014, Morgan and his friends founded Science Everywhere, a company that makes, well,  science everywhere — public spaces, busy intersections, pubs, universities, cultural venues, anywhere they can draw a crowd.

The team documents its exploits on video and uploads them to its popular YouTube channel. The move has led to television contracts with Daily Planet, Cityline, and the former daytime television show Steven and Chris. Networks have purchased rights to broadcast their clips, they’ve been featured in magazines, and businesses hire them to engage their clients.

The idea behind Science Everywhere is to bring science to the streets, to reach people “who don’t know they love science.”

Creative director and CEO, Morgan is the first of the company’s full-time employees. Nine core members join him part-time in his exploits, as well as 15 junior associates. The team is an unusual mix of political historians, pyrotechnic experts and university lecturers.

A boost from Laurentian

Around the time Morgan started considering guerrilla science as his vocation and not just a “fun thing to do,” he decided to supplement his B.Sc. from McMaster University with Laurentian University’s post-graduate degree in science communication, at the time a diploma program in partnership with Science North, now the country’s only Master’s degree in Science Communication.

“I thought Laurentian would help me hone and refine my skills,” Morgan says, citing video production, rhetorical techniques, and written storytelling as some of the most important skills he gained from the program.

“It helped me make sure our message and mission is spreading further than what I thought was possible.”

The always-enthusiastic Morgan says his job is a dream come true. He loves answering the question “What did you do at work today?” with outlandish—and true—responses.

“I set a woman on fire.” “I electrocuted an astronaut.”

“The things we do, you might think they are throwaway experiences that people will forget—but people stop me on the street and say, ‘I remember you, we had a blast doing X and Y.’ [Our experiments] mean something to people.”

And that means something to Morgan.

“I want to be the spark that inspires people to get a little more curious.”




A passion for wilderness trekking becomes a business

When you travel the 100+ kilometre stretch of land that formed the historic trading route between Lake Superior and James Bay, weather is a natural topic of conversation. Especially when it’s bad.

“Every day was minus 30 at least, but the deep snow and conditions from the previous few weeks meant it was slushy beneath the surface. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the walking gets really hard. The slush would wick up and immediately freeze on your snowshoes,” says Kielyn Marrone, BPHE ’11. She’s describing conditions on one of the more adventuresome trips she guided. Along with her husband Dave, BPHE ’09, Kielyn owns and operates a business called Lure of the North, providing guided winter travel experiences to travellers around the world.

On this particular trip in 2015, eight guests were along for the ride, and time was ticking. Setting out on the multi-day snowshoeing excursion, the group caught a CP train heading north from Sudbury and jumped off somewhere close to the old trading route. They headed northeast, eventually crossing the frigid expanse of Missinaibi Lake before flagging down a southward train (on the CN line) to bring them back to civilization.

It was one of many trips the duo would lead that year, and one of over 20 they’ve led in the last five years, building their business of traditional winter travel in the snowy season and handcrafting with a side of skills training in the spring, summer and fall.

A family business

For David and Kielyn, the idea to start Lure of the North emerged from their time at Laurentian, where they each graduated from the Outdoor Adventure Leadership program. They started leading trips part time, working as guides on contract for other northern Ontario outfitters.

“We both started our careers in outdoor education with kids in school groups. We got the feeling that if you weren’t going dogsledding or moving out west to become a ski guide, there was very limited work in the winter for an outdoor educator,” says Kielyn.

Between contracts, the couple wandered into the frozen woods on a 40-day winter trip, which inspired them to focus their own approach to wilderness treks.

“It was just the two of us and we found ourselves falling in love with the traditional snowshoe type of travel. We knew it’s something other people wanted to try, but most are unsure of how to do it: unsure of where to start, unsure about their own capacity,” she says. “Most people just need someone to show them it can be done and it can even be comfortable to do.”

Eventually they started doing more of their own tours. “We both did a couple of contracts for other companies, but as the rest of our business grows, we do less and less of that contract work,” says Kielyn.

Today their home base is a 40-acre property near Espanola, Ontario. A 14- by 16-foot canvas tent with a wood burning stove, kitchen table and bed doubles as the office, shipping department, base of operations and anything else the business needs to work.

The arrangement really fits with their love of the outdoors. “For an outdoor living company, there’s more office work than I’d like,” says Dave. “But I feel lucky to get to spend at least a portion of every day outside.”

They also love winter trips in particular. “Winter travel demands teamwork in a way that summer travel does not, which I find incredibly satisfying to be a part of,” says Dave. “We work together to break trail during the day, haul heavy toboggans over the portage trails as a team and everyone contributes to making a comfortable camp in the evenings.”

“Hard travel in the wilderness develops confidence, good judgement and good physical and mental health,” he adds.

Back in the outdoors

That’s not to say things always go according to plan. On the historic route between Lake Superior and James Bay, for example. As the travellers marched across Missinaibi Lake, the promise of comfort hadn’t yet materialized and the group was slipping noticeably behind schedule. But Dave knew what the needed to do.

He sat the group down at camp that night and treated them to a rallying speech in the grand tradition of Winston Churchill or Cicero. Spirits were lifted.

Or they were, until Dave checked for messages on the satellite phone and learned that a member of the expedition had to leave. The traveller’s father had died suddenly and unexpectedly. He and his two compatriots, all from the UK, requested a helicopter evacuation.

The group split up supplies and made camp, waiting a full day for the helicopter to cut through the biting storm. It didn’t let up and the group had to move or risk everybody missing their ride home. That would mean another three days in the woods with limited supplies, waiting for the next passing train to bring them home.

So they moved. And when the storm broke a few hours into the day, they kept moving. A few hours later the helicopter found them along the route and lifted the trio away, leaving a few extra supplies for the remaining seven members to share. They would need them. Missing the train was all but guaranteed.

Strength through adversity

“We do a three-day trip, but we always encourage people to stay longer,” Kielyn says. “I think it takes four days for people to get comfortable in the winter. You spend the first three worrying about your clothing, the bathroom, how you’re going to sleep, what you’ll eat and drink. By day three you’re starting to get comfortable with your personal kit and you’re able to start looking up and enjoying the surroundings. And then you become part of the group. You’re all in the same boat, working through these challenging conditions, and by day four you’re starting to work together well and functioning as a cohesive group.”

With the fervor of adversity at their backs, the remaining group members pressed hard to reach the track in time. They lugged toboggans laden with weighty gear over portage trails, broke trails for hours, and days. They caught a glimpse of the rails just hours before their scheduled pickup and collapsed to bask in the achievement.

But twelve hours before their arrival, a CN train carrying crude oil derailed, blocking access for all trains passing that way.

“We ended up enjoying the next three days in the snow,” Kielyn says. “These three days we just slept and ate and drank and made snow shelters and trapped rabbits and enjoyed the winter time. And the best thing about that is almost everybody from the trip has already come back for another adventure.”

Years before, the couple had been advised by a colleague that nobody wants a long winter trip. They want a short outing where they can check things off their list and move on. But the more treacherous trip and others since have confirmed for Dave and Kielyn that it’s best to listen to your own instincts. To this day, the eight-day trip they now offer is among their most popular, and the 18-day marathon is always fully booked.

“Listen to advice and take it seriously, but also listen to your heart and your own head,” says Kielyn. “Don’t ever be afraid to try what you want.”




Along with spring 2018 will come the opening of the new 60,000 square foot Cliff Fielding Research, Innovation and Engineering Building.

Located between the Fraser and Parker Buildings, the building is becoming a reality as a result of funds received from the federal and provincial governments for a combined $27.4 million, as part of a broader capital program totaling $60.7 million.

Beyond the public investment, the building would not have been possible without the commitment of a particular private investor, Mrs. Lily Fielding and her family, who supported the project from the beginning. The family’s $3 million gift honours her late husband, entrepreneur Cliff Fielding, and their son, Jim Fielding.

“The Fielding family has been integral in realizing this much-needed expansion of research and innovation space in our region,” says Dominic Giroux, president and vice-chancellor at Laurentian University. “Cliff Fielding was a great ambassador to our city, and advocated for driving innovative growth in the North. His family continues this legacy and we are proud to name this building in his honour.”

The Cliff Fielding Building will include collaborative research and development space, innovation and commercialization space, as well as space for students in the award-winning Bharti School of Engineering.

The facility will also include four capstone innovation labs, a material analysis lab, environmental and soil mechanics labs, a prototype development and machine shop, and a hydraulics and fluid mechanics lab.

A long history of support

The Fielding family has a long history of supporting the university and the city of Greater Sudbury, and has established significant student awards at Laurentian, including the Clifford Fielding Graduate Bursary, the Brenda Wallace Management Scholarship and the Jim Fielding Memorial Bursary. The Brenda Wallace Reading Room was also created in Brenda’s memory and provides the Laurentian community with an incredible place to read in a relaxed atmosphere with a spectacular view of Lake Nepahwin.

Known for having grown his thriving businesses in the Sudbury area, Cliff Fielding served on the board of governors at Laurentian University from 1964 to 1979. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from Laurentian University and an honorary doctorate of canon law from Thorneloe University.

“This building honours Mr. Fielding’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to Northern Ontario,” says Tracy MacLeod, BA ’95, Laurentian University’s chief advancement officer. “The building is going to be a testament to all the innovation happening in the City of Greater Sudbury and at the university. Having the building located near the Parker Tower is meaningful to the family because Ralph Parker is credited for helping Cliff early in his career.”

In addition to naming the new facility after Cliff Fielding, the university will also honour his son, Jim Fielding, who was a passionate believer in education and greatly valued the role that Laurentian University plays in facilitating access to education while driving economic activity and innovation in the city of Greater Sudbury, northern Ontario and beyond.

A special wing

Another important donation is the $1 million gift received from the Perdue family, announced in November 2016.

In appreciation of the Perdue family’s investment, the building’s collaborative research and development centre will be named the Norinne E. Perdue Collaborative Research and Development Centre, in honour of Cliff and Lily’s granddaughter.

Norinne Perdue was born in Sudbury to Jim and Shirley Fielding. With a lifelong interest in personal academic achievement, Mrs. Perdue believed in the educational accomplishments of her children and in supporting others to meet their educational goals and interests.

“Norinne believed strongly in the importance of education and working hard to reach goals,” says husband Gerry Perdue. “When we share and work together– everyone benefits. These are values Norinne and I taught our children from a young age. This centre will honour Norinne’s memory by enhancing educational opportunities for students while encouraging the collaboration that will lead to exciting new innovations in the North.”

The Norinne E. Perdue Collaborative Research and Development Centre will enable researchers across the university’s seven faculties to collaborate, share equipment and expertise. The space was designed in consultation with local industry, researchers and faculty, in order to maximize collaborations and inter-disciplinary opportunities.

“The Perdue family has a long history of supporting Laurentian University,” says MacLeod. “For Gerry Perdue and his three children, it is very meaningful to have Norinne’s memory honoured in the same building as her grandfather. Our students have already benefited greatly from the family’s generosity and through this investment our region will continue to prosper with a much needed collaborative research and development centre.”

Laurentian’s Associate Vice-President, Research, Partnerships and Innovation, Craig Fowler, believes the facility will not only give students new “state-of-the-art” equipment, but will influence innovation within the city of Greater Sudbury.

“This building has many different opportunities associated with it,” Fowler says. “It’s an economic boost for the university and the city, as we are engaging with many local businesses to build it. In terms of our engineering program, the new labs are bringing us where we need to be so that our students can take part in innovative research and engage in a collaborative space.”

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If Nathan Chevrier, BA ’06, had to convince a reluctant student to take part even just once in Laurentian University’s Model Parliament, he believes it would be effortless. “Politics affect all of us, every single day, regardless of what area we are in. This provides a great experience to discuss the things that concern us,” he explains.

Although the Hanmer, Ontario native has always had an interest for politics, he had no idea when he participated in his first Model Parliament in 2002 that the annual event would still be a part of his life 15 years later.

An experience like no other

Launched in 1992 by political science students at Laurentian with the help of faculty members, the Laurentian Model Parliament – with an initial structure likened to the Ontario Legislature – quickly generated a great deal of interest among students. Each year since 2000, more than a hundred students have come together for a day in the House of Commons to put themselves in the shoes of federal legislators. Under the leadership of the Laurentian University Political Science Association, the event continues to evolve each year.

Having helped to coordinate the event while studying at Laurentian, Chevrier recognizes just how innovative his predecessors were. “We’re not so caught up in trying to replicate the current political state, and I think that adds some originality and richness to the discussions that ensue,” he explains, while emphasizing that the tradition is still just as much fun now as it was 25 years ago.

Most importantly though, Model Parliament remains an outstanding educational event, according to Chevrier, who is now a federal civil servant. He acknowledges that by taking part in the event, he acquired writing skills and the ability to analyze bills which he uses regularly today in his career at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The Model Parliament experience fueled his passion to work in parliamentary relations, which was first ignited when he was employed by the office of former federal MP, Raymond Bonin.

“Speaking in public doesn’t come naturally to most people, especially when it comes to challenging other opinions, so this is an exercise from which everyone can benefit,” Chevrier adds.

Alumni are still involved

Every five years since 2007, Chevrier oversees the organization of the Alumni Model Parliament, which brings together Laurentian graduates in the upper house of Parliament, while the Student Model Parliament is in session. Laurentian University is the only postsecondary institution in Canada to hold a mock bicameral legislative session in the House of Commons.

For Laurentian’s graduates, the Alumni Model Parliament has a whole different significance though. The event allows them to relive one of the most memorable times of their university years, all the while meeting and connecting with current students.

For Chevrier, Model Parliament helps to sharpen one’s sense of citizenship and appreciation for the democratic system, even for those people who never wander into the political arena. It is a formative life experience.



The Alumni Relations office also hosts a wide variety of events each year. From professional sporting events to golf tournaments to networking opportunities, there is truly something for everyone from coast to coast. Visit us soon for a list of upcoming spring/summer events.




The honours that alumna Elsie Kossatz has received over the years say a lot about her dedication to the issues and organizations she believes in.

She’s been awarded a lifetime membership in the Ontario Hospital Association. An Order of Sancta Barbara by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. And a Laurentian Alumni Recognition Award.

A quick trip back through time reveals even more about this special alumna’s activities. Born in England in 1925, Kossatz spent her late teens working for the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate of the British Ministry of Aviation after one year of specific electrical instruction during the last two years of the Second World War.

She married Mason (Eric) Cotnam Foley Kossatz, and then the couple moved to Canada in 1946. Eric served with the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (also known as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own) for four years as a soldier, and then earned a degree in mining engineering at the University of Toronto.

After two summers in Sudbury working for the INCO Limited mine as a summer student, Mr. Kossatz began his career with the same company upon graduation. While living in Lively, on the outskirts of Sudbury, Mrs. Kossatz gave birth to their daughter, Anne Kossatz. Anne would go on to earn her B.Sc. in biology from Laurentian in 1977.

Volunteerism begins

During a short stay in the Sudbury Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Kossatz came up with the idea of developing a library for patients. With her husband’s help, she created the Mobile Library, which she ran for 19 years. The library offered books in ten languages, and with the help of volunteers, travelled to each of the hospital floors three times per week.

Mrs. Kossatz later became a dedicated member of the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, sitting on the board for 10 years, and holding office in the various units in the city of Greater Sudbury. In 1990, her service was recognized with a lifetime membership in the Ontario Hospital Association.

Beyond the hospital, Mrs. Kossatz devoted much of her time and energy to other volunteer initiatives. She was a member of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) for more than 50 years, joining chapters in Sudbury, Copper Cliff, Thunder Bay and Orangeville. At the IODE, Mrs. Kossatz was both a member of the provincial executive and a provincial life member.

She has served on the Sudbury Library Board, and was a member of the Oakville Library Board. She was a member of the Friends of the Library Board and a highly motivated volunteer at the Woodside branch for the last 20 years.

Mrs. Kossatz also served on the advisory board of TVOntario for many years.

While Mrs. Kossatz’s involvement in the mining business undoubtedly began with her husband’s affiliation with the industry, she managed to make a name for herself in this field as well. In 1998, she joined the Women’s Association of the Mining Industry in Canada (WAMIC). She held the title of treasurer for three years, and president for 2012-2013. Mrs. Kossatz was honoured with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s Order of Sancta Barbara for her contributions to mining communities.

A life at Laurentian

Alongside her volunteerism, Mrs. Kossatz completed a psychology degree at Laurentian. She took 10 years to complete the degree since she was so busy with all of her other undertakings. At Laurentian, Mrs. Kossatz was president of the Laurentian Association of Mature and Part-time Students and served on over a dozen committees, including search committees for the university president and chief librarian, the Honorary Degree committee, the Building and Planning committee, the Museum & Art gallery, and the Women’s Issues committee. She was also on the Board of Governors and the Senate. In 1985, Mrs. Kossatz was honoured with a Laurentian Alumni Recognition Award.

After earning so many honours herself, it’s not surprising Mrs. Kossatz was inspired to give back. After her husband’s passing, she created a scholarship in his honour. The Mason C.F. Kossatz Memorial Scholarship is given to mining engineer students in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of the program. Since its establishment in 1989, the scholarship has helped over 80 students in financial need.

“My husband used to say education was something that could not be taken away from you,” she says. “I am pleased I can help and will continue to do so.”

To this day, Mrs. Kossatz hosts an annual dinner for her scholarship recipients and invites mining industry professionals to network with them.

According to the scholarship’s first recipient, Jon Treen, B.Eng ’93, MBA ’99, “The significant financial contribution helped me get through university. But it pales in comparison to the opportunity Mrs. Kossatz gave us to meet with leaders from the INCO (now Vale) organization.”

Treen, who now occupies the role of senior vice-president, Mining at Stantec, admits, “The relationships the dinner provided were pivotal in the foundation of my career, and I’m very grateful for that.”

Though it has been many years since Mrs. Kossatz graduated from Laurentian University, she still remains heavily involved, as a donor, a friend, and as a support to the students who have been touched by her kindness along the way.




Over 11 years, four members of the Beaudry family graduated from Laurentian University

Being a northern school, Laurentian University has a healthy population of northern students who choose the institution for its proximity to family.

The Beaudrys are just such a clan: a mother, two daughters and a son. Mother Brenda Beaudry and siblings Melissa Beaudry Shigwadja, Amanda Beaudry and Cameryn Beaudry all graduated from Laurentian in the last 11 years, electing to stay close to their roots while earning postsecondary credentials.

Their paths never crossed on campus—they all missed each other by a year or two. But their career paths run mostly parallel, with one exception.

Life’s a journey

Brenda Beaudry went first, graduating from the Certified Nurse Practitioner program in 2005.

“I remember telling my mom I wanted to be a nurse. I think my brother thought he wanted to be a fireman. We favoured these traditional roles. I didn’t remember that until I was already a nurse,” says Brenda, who is now a nurse practitioner.

She may have started a trend.

Not long after, her eldest daughter Melissa, graduated from the Nursing program (BScN).

“Ultimately I wanted to become a medical doctor, and I knew nursing would give me a lot of the things I’d need to move on to that,” Melissa says. She went on to complete medical school at McMaster University in Hamilton, and credits much of her success in the field to her early nursing training.

The trend continued when second daughter Amanda graduated from Laurentian in 2011, again from the BScN program.

“You don’t really get to see your parents at work, but my mom’s always reading, always trying to learn. It’s a lifelong learning career path. I liked that part of it, that even after she was done she still stayed in that mindset of continuous learning,” Amanda says. “I guess I’m a similar kind of person.”

A rebel career, or maybe not

Before you assume that it was a hat trick for the Beaudry siblings, you should know that nursing wasn’t in the cards for Cameryn. He started out intending to become a police officer. After graduating from the Police Foundations program at Niagara College in southern Ontario, at the age of 19, it seemed he was too young to start the career. Not enough life experience.

“I was told one of the better degrees to go with a career in the police was the Sport and Phys. Ed. degree, so I applied and got in,” he says. “As the program went on, I started to like the teaching aspect of it. Maybe it’s because my Dad has been in education for a long time, maybe it was part of his grand scheme to subliminally get me into this.” Dominic Beaudry is director of education for the Wikwemikong Board of Education, a First Nation on Manitoulin Island.

Cameryn graduated from Laurentian’s Sport and Physical Education program and is now attending teacher’s college at Nipissing University in North Bay.

“Life’s a journey,” Cameryn says, “and it’s all about figuring things out as you go.”

Dominic Beaudry, Brenda’s husband and father to the Beaudry kids, is chair of the Laurentian University Native Education Council (LUNEC). He also sits on Laurentian’s Board of Governors and has sat on numerous committees.

While not a graduate of Laurentian, Beaudry certainly has the family connections. He’s also been recognized himself by the university, as a recipient of Laurentian’s Native Education Person of Distinction award this past June, for his contribution to teaching, research, training and development.

A true northern family, the Beaudrys demonstrate a school-family relationship that might not exist anywhere else.




If you were watching the television news coverage in early August, you may have noticed a familiar backdrop for the prime minister’s federal cabinet meeting. Yes, that was us—Laurentian became the first post-secondary institution to host such a retreat. That proud moment was just one of many this past year in which we’ve proven that the Voyageurs community can make an impact on anything and everything they come into contact with.

Raising the profile

Laurentian’s reputation and reach has grown exponentially since June 2016, thanks to nearly $200 million in private gifts, peer-reviewed research awards and government infrastructure grants.

Beyond financial awards, the accomplishments of our talented faculty and students have also raised our profile this year.

As just one stellar example, after a generous $10 million gift made by the Harquail family to name the Harquail School of Earth Sciences, the school received the Metal Earth award, made possible by decades of research excellence. With the Metal Earth award, Laurentian boosts its reputation as a major contributor to the world’s understanding of the evolution of our planet.

In other national headlines, Laurentian maintained its ranking in Maclean’s magazine as one of Canada’s top 10 primarily undergraduate universities.

A big year for campus modernization

Closer to home, it’s also been a transformative year. You may have noticed we spruced up the campus—this year saw doors open on the Executive Learning Centre, the University Club, the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Unit Lab, labs in the Ben Avery building, the MyLaurentian Hub in the R.D. Parker building, and the student lounge in the Alphonse Raymond building.

Certainly, students are noticing. “It’s an exciting time to be a student at Laurentian! The campus has really changed in the past couple of years, and it’s like the students were at the centre of all of the planning, decisions and investments made on campus,” says Darquise Guimond, B.Com. (spéc.) ’15.

Not only did Laurentian open more facilities on campus, Phase II at the McEwen School of Architecture in downtown Sudbury also held its grand opening. The new space provides its students with lofty facilities to expand their creativity and help Laurentian to make its mark in the world of architecture.

Clearly 2016 marked a memorable year at Laurentian. So what’s in store for 2017?

According to Laurentian University President Dominic Giroux, it’s the year of ideas.

“I am excited about the opportunity ahead of us to define our future directions beyond the current 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, and hope you are too.”



Did you know that, as a Laurentian graduate, you could benefit from a unique alumni credit card or preferred rates for home, auto and life insurance? You could also receive discounts towards activities, services, food, and so much more. Being a graduate definitely has its perks!




MSW graduate Lori St. Louis recognized by the Ontario Brain Injury Association

Two-time Laurentian University graduate Lori St. Louis (BA ’03, MSW ’15) was recently awarded the Case Manager of the Year Award of Excellence in brain injury rehabilitation through the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA).

The award is given to a case manager working in private practice who the OBIA believes has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to help catastrophically impaired brain injury survivors and their families.

At least one year of service as a private practice case manager is required to be eligible for the award. St. Louis has worked in the disability sector for more than 30.

“My first ‘job,’ in the field, was in grade 7. I was the helper for a boy on my street with special needs,” says St. Louis. “I’d go there before school in the morning and help get him ready for the day. Put his mitts on, his toque or hat, make sure he got on the assisted transit safely. I kept doing this sort of thing all through high school, helping out in the special needs classes, and I worked in the developmental service sector from around 1989 to 2003.”

Today, St. Louis is the director of social work at Abilities Rehabilitation Services (Abilities).

An invisible disability

According to the Brain Injury Association of Canada (BIAC), acquired brain injury is more common than multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries and breast cancer combined. As many as 1.5 million people in Canada are living with a brain injury today.

But if it’s so common, why don’t you know anybody suffering from one?

“It’s an invisible disability,” says St. Louis. “A person might look fine, but they aren’t. A person is likely not processing, retaining, initiating in the same way they used to. There are multiple, complex issues an acquired brain injury person has to get over just to make coffee in the morning.”

An acquired brain injury can scramble the pathways that your brain has made through your lifetime, making even ”mindless” tasks totally new and challenging.

Let’s say you want to drive from Sudbury to Toronto for a Raptors game. You’d jump on Highway 69 and follow it all the way down to the 401, four hours later. Maybe you’d take the 401 east to the Don Valley Parkway (DVP), go south to the Gardiner and scoot over to the Air Canada Centre. Or maybe you’d take Black Creek Drive down to Keele Street and Parkside Avenue, until you hit Lakeshore Boulevard where you’d head east. You could make that decision as you go, mapping the best route along the way.

If you had an acquired brain injury, this could all be hazy and confusing, even if you’d taken the trip many times before. You might get on the highway only to forget where you’re going half an hour later. You might get stressed out by an unexpected patch of road work. You might stop for gas, assume that’s all you were going for and head home. Getting from point A to point B, whether it’s a physical point, driving from city to city, or a mental point, making breakfast in the morning or taking out the garbage, can become impossible.

Confusion is just the start

Acquired brain injuries also often lead to loss.

“They often lose friends, a career, sometimes family and their idea of self. There can be an intense loss of self-worth when a person sustains a brain injury. There is often financial hardship, and the advent of new mental health and addiction issues,” says St. Louis.

The person is often not the same, cognitively and physically, and they require a unique level of service that isn’t available to everybody.

That’s where St. Louis comes in.

“When the system works as it’s designed to, we can get people back to where they were. Bring the family and the individual back to meaningful and productive activities. What’s meaningful and productive will change from person to person, but the end of the day people just want to feel productive and meaningful, to feel good about themselves,” St. Louis says.

A rehabilitation plan looks different for every person. Some of the common team players include an occupational therapist, language pathologist, physiotherapist, rehab support workers, workplace support, family support, and, of course, the case manager.

“That’s ultimately what I do. Manage the different pieces of each case to find the right level of support for the family and individual,” St. Louis says.

Every day is different for St. Louis. Monday might be all about advocating with an insurance company to convince them that a patient is entitled to a benefit where they sit just a little outside the regular terms of the insurance agreement. Thursday might be spent helping a head-injured adult get his or her driver’s licence back.

“Navigating a system like that can be frustrating for me, and I do it on a regular basis. Imagine how hard it would be for somebody with a brain injury.”

Using technology without losing the personal connection

In the past, Canada’s massive geography was a barrier to service for brain-injured patients who needed regular consultation with medical professionals. Remote communities had no access to services like Abilities.

But with high-speed internet access snaking out to an increasing number of remote communities, St. Louis believes access to service is real for more and more people. In fact, she made remote access a major focus for the research she completed during her second Laurentian degree in 2015, a Master of Social Work.

“During my MSW program, I was able to do some of my research on best practices in supporting remote clientele,” says St. Louis. “Asking questions like how are we integrating? How can we have a secure web based interface that’s accessible? How can we videoconference and teleconference with clients and still meet their needs in an evidence-based way?”

St. Louis and the other social workers at Abilities are currently integrating secure web conferencing into client treatment. As a northerner herself, St. Louis is more connected to northern culture. It makes her the right kind of professional to offer service to the remote, and sometimes isolated, communities in the far North.

“The feedback we’re receiving from clients and stakeholders has been really great. With funding from the insurer, we’re able to prescribe digital aids, like iPads and scanners and photocopiers, even Internet connections so some of our clients can engage in regular and ongoing therapy. We still have an obligation to meet face-to-face with our clients. That’s still more effective, but this is by far the best way to connect northern communities consistently with the right service provider—people who understand the northern way,” St. Louis says.

 “The MSW program at Laurentian is the foundation for all of this,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything I do now if I hadn’t done a master’s program when I did.”



Members from the Alumni Relations team meet with hundreds of graduates one-on-one throughout the year. Do you have an idea for an upcoming event, program, or just want to share your experience with us? We’d love to take you for coffee and discuss it. Call us at 705-675-4818 or email





The one and only time Cindy Wennerstrom was looking for a rental unit, she had trouble finding a decent place that would accept her aging cat, despite having great references and owning her own rental property.

She vowed she would one day own rental units again, and would do things very differently.

At the time, Wennerstrom had relocated to Toronto from Sudbury, after a promotion with McCain Foods Canada. She remained with McCain for nearly 12 years, moving up the ranks.  She was working in the marketing department when the fated “pink slip” finally arrived. After watching many colleagues get laid off, Wennerstrom was anticipating a layoff and had begun focusing more and more on investing in real estate in Toronto.

“All of us have an internal burning desire to do something else. Mine was being involved in real estate,” Wennerstrom says.

At 24, she had bought her first property in Sudbury and rented out part of it, using the income to pay for her two university degrees from Laurentian, a BA in Law and Justice in 1995 and an MBA in 1998.

She’d always had the idea in the back of her mind to buy, renovate and rent properties for a living. After she was laid off, the opportunity to do just that presented itself.

A business begins

In 2010, she formed Oro Properties, a boutique real estate investment firm in the greater Toronto area. She helps clients find properties, recommends and manages renovations to maximize profits, and along with a small team, provides some light property management and a whole lot of Tenant Find Services.

She immediately realized her investor clients had a spin-off requirement: finding good, reliable tenants. Oro Properties’ Tenant Find Services Division was born, initially with a focus on Toronto, and later Mississauga, and Brampton.

Oro means gold in Italian, a word Wennerstrom chose as a way to honour her Italian grandma, who called her “L’oro della Nonna,” meaning “grandma’s gold”. Wennerstrom speaks proudly of her Nonna’s strength and achievements, not least of which was giving her family a beautiful life in Canada.

Building a legacy

Channelling her Nonna, Wennerstrom’s hallmarks are determination, ambition, and hard work. With 11 investment properties to her name, each with more than one unit, Wennerstrom could retire but declares that “when you find what you love to do you can’t stop.”

“It’s not about money; it runs deeper than that. It’s about having a product you’re proud of and passionate about,” says Wennerstrom.

Since launching Oro Properties, Wennerstrom has been featured in several real estate books, magazines, newspapers and TV shows. She’s a sought-after speaker at investor forums and has even worked on a TV series. Part of her appeal is the breadth of experience and also her ability to adapt her business.

“I started with nothing. I sold my car and cashed out a small RRSP to buy my first house,” she says, adding that many success stories start the same way — with nothing but a dream. “It’s your passion and ambition that will drive you.”


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