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Indigenous high school students get a taste of life at Lakehead University

The university welcomed 200 students from area high schools for its annual Indigenous preview day.
Bio-Archaeology technician Clarence Surette speaks to high school students during Lakehead University's Indigenous preview day on Tuesday, April 30.

THUNDER BAY – For the last 15 years, Lakehead University has welcomed Indigenous high school students to its campus to get a sample of what awaits them at the post-secondary level.

This year’s Indigenous preview day was held on April 30 and saw 200 students from Thunder Bay, Nipigon, and Red Rock get a taste of university life.

“What we do know is that the more time students interact with post-secondary education, the more likely they are to choose it as a pathway,” said Denise Baxter, vice-provost of Indigenous initiatives at Lakehead.

“We have students that come here every year from Grade 9 to Grade 12, so at a minimum, they’ll have visited Lakehead four times by the end of their high school studies.

“As they are choosing their courses and deciding on which path they want to go on, this gives them a lot of options as they are making those decisions.”

During Tuesday’s event, students participated in short lessons – such as with the anthropology department on items that have been discovered through digs on campus – and got to meet various faculty to learn what courses they would need to take in high school to take the various programs that are offered at Lakehead.

Rachel Mishenene, director of the Indigenous teacher education initiative at the Rideau Hall Foundation, was also on hand to gauge the potential interest that students had about pursuing a career in teaching.

“As an Indigenous person, it was really important for me to see myself reflected in my own learning environment,” Mishenene said. “Sometimes, the teacher was that only person because you might not see yourself or hear your stories reflected through the curriculum or the instruction practiced.

“So we’re just wanting to look at ways that we can inspire or encourage youth to consider teaching as a pathway so that they become that role model as well for other generations to pursue teaching.”

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