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Lakehead U and RBC Launch Joint Aboriginal Outreach Program

(November 4, 2010 – Thunder Bay, ON) Today, Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), spoke to St. Patrick High School students in his current capacity as Special Advisor to RBC.  In his talk, he addressed RBC’s long history of service to the Aboriginal community.  He also presented the organization’s ongoing effort to build relationships and serve Aboriginal Peoples by: improving access to financial services; providing employment, training and development, and procurement opportunities; and contributing to community and social development.  This event launched the RBC – Lakehead University Joint Aboriginal Outreach Program, a collaborative, one-year, four-stage pilot project between Lakehead University’s Office of Aboriginal Initiatives and RBC. The program will offer a series of events and activities to Aboriginal youth living in and around Thunder Bay over the upcoming year.

“This initiative aims to introduce Aboriginal youth to the educational opportunities and support systems available at Lakehead,” explains Beverly Sabourin, Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives), Lakehead University. Murray Walberg, RBC Regional Vice President, adds that, “RBC is hopeful that all program elements come together to strengthen the organization’s relationship with the University’s existing and prospective Aboriginal students.”

Elements comprising the joint project include:

Aboriginal Discovery Day

Aboriginal students age fifteen and older will have the opportunity to visit Lakehead’s Thunder Bay campus and participate in a full day of interactive discussions, presentations, and tours.  The event will take place in conjunction with Aboriginal Awareness Week in March 2011.  Following an opening drum ceremony led by elders, participants will be encouraged to share stories of their experiences and struggles and how they overcame challenges in their own lives.  They will also have the opportunity to discuss specific Lakehead programs with faculty and support services staff so they can become more confident in making educational decisions. Information relating to the employment opportunities that exist upon graduation will also be presented. 

Mentor Program

From March to November 2011, participants will be matched with both a third-year Aboriginal student and a Lakehead faculty member who will provide ongoing support and resources including regularly scheduled meetings; guidance, knowledge, advice, and feedback relative to the mentors’ area(s) of expertise, and a “learning partner” with whom the mentors can discuss additional recommendations to ensure the student’s continued direction and support. 

Speaker Series

Participants from Aboriginal Discovery Day and the ACCESS program, as well as more than 700 self-identified Aboriginal students at Lakehead’s Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses, are able to attend two Speaker Series presentations in November 2011.

Wrap-Up Celebration

Also in November 2011, participants involved in Aboriginal Discovery Day and/or the Mentor Program or Speaker Series will be recognized at a reception that celebrates the partnerships and friendships resulting from this joint initiative.  Awards will be presented to Mentor Program participants.


MEDIA: Beverly Sabourin and Murray Walberg are available for media interview.  For more information or to arrange interview times with Beverly Sabourin, please contact Heather Scott, Communications Officer, at 807-343-8177 or  To arrange interview times with Murray Walberg, please contact him directly at 807-684-8312 or

About Lakehead                 
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,700 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit

About Lakehead University’s Office of Aboriginal Initiatives
The Office of Aboriginal Initiatives assists the growing Aboriginal population at Lakehead University in achieving their goals by providing a culturally supportive environment.  The Vice-Provost offers leadership in Aboriginal affairs and promotes and understanding of Aboriginal culture, heritage, and language within the University community serving as a liaison between the Aboriginal community and University.  The Vice-Provost is also responsible for Aboriginal academic support services, and Aboriginal community relations.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate under the master brand name RBC. We are Canada’s largest bank as measured by assets and market capitalization, and among the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment banking and transaction processing services on a global basis. We employ approximately 78,000 full- and part-time employees who serve close to 18 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 51 other countries. For more information, please visit

Last updated November 04, 2010

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