Lakehead University will recognize five exceptional people at this year’s convocation ceremonies on Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28 at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.

The Hon. Jean Charest, Helen Cromarty, and Dr. Keijo Virtanen will each receive an honorary doctorate for their work in politics, health care, and research on Finnish immigration to Canada, respectively. “Honorary degree recipients are chosen based on their excellent contributions to society and their remarkable service,” said Dr. Brian Stevenson, Lakehead’s President and Vice-Chancellor.

Lakehead will also recognize the hard work and dedication of Tammy Squitti and Bill Bartley, who will each be named Fellow of the University. Murray Walberg, Chair of Lakehead’s Board of Governors, said these individuals were selected due to their contributions to Lakehead University. “Bill Bartley and Tammy Squitti have made a profound impact on Lakehead University and this is our way of publically saying thank you,” Walberg said.

Honorary Degree Recipients

The Hon. Jean Charest

M. Jean Charest

As Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Premier of Québec, Jean Charest is one of Canada’s best known political figures. As Minister of the Environment, he led his country’s delegation at the 1992 Earth Summit on the economy and the environment in Rio and was praised for his leadership role among G7 countries on climate change and biodiversity. The Charest government has been a world leader on the environment and climate change, and best known for a major initiative for the sustainable development of Northern Québec called “Plan Nord.” Under his leadership, Québec experienced a sustained period of economic prosperity with stronger economic growth from 2008 to 2012 than the US, Europe, Canada and Ontario, despite a global financial and economic crisis.

For the International arena, his administration was the most active in the history of Québec. Thus, the Charest government initiated an unprecedented labour mobility agreement between France and Québec, and convinced Canada and the European Union to negotiate a broad economic partnership. Jean Charest is a partner at McCarthy Tétrault. He provides invaluable expertise to the firm’s clients with his in-depth knowledge and experience with public policy, corporate Canada and international matters. As a strategic advisor with a unique perspective, he supports clients on complex transactions, projects and international mandates, as they navigate the global business environment.

Jean Charest will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws during the Friday afternoon ceremony.

Helen Cromarty
CROMARTY APP_8520-1Helen Cromarty (Barkman) of Sachigo Lake First Nation began her education as a residential school student and attained her HBScN degree from Lakehead University. During her 45-year career as a nurse, she worked ICU-CCU for 23 years. Then as health policy analyst/health liaison at Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and special advisor for First Nation Health at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC). Helen was in many leadership roles in the development and implementation of health care programs and services delivered throughout NAN and Ontario. She made major contributions in the development of Lakehead University’s Native Nurses Entry Program and the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy. At SLMHC, she contributed to the traditional and cultural programs and published several articles on health research.

Helen was recognized for her work in First Nations Health by the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and the Chiefs of Ontario. She has an extensive board and committee experience, including Lakehead University, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Wequedong Lodge and Aboriginal Health Services for Accreditation Canada. Helen is a residential school survivor, friend, sister, aunt, mother, and Kookom (grandmother). Her husband, Dennis Franklin Cromarty, passed away February 3, 1993. She is proud of their five children and a very proud Kookom of three beautiful girls. Upon retiring in 2013, she felt honoured to have completed the circle in her career. Her first nursing post was at the Sioux Lookout Indian Hospital, now known as the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre.

Helen Cromarty will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science during the Saturday morning ceremony.

Dr. Keijo Virtanen
VIRTANEN keijo_virtanenKeijo Virtanen’s research work began at the University of Turku, Finland. He published his doctoral dissertation in 1979 on the return of Finnish migrants from overseas countries, particularly the United States and Canada. In addition to migration and ethnicity, his publications focus on the influence of North-American culture in Finland, the methodological questions of historical research as well as university and science policy. He held a number of positions in the University of Turku and the Academy of Finland. He was appointed the Professor of Cultural History in 1990, having worked as an acting professor since 1983. He was a research assistant at the University of Michigan in 1974-75 and Fulbright researcher in 1988-89.

In the 1970s he made several long trips to Canada and the United States to microfilm archival material on Finnish immigrants. Keijo became the longest-serving rector/president of the University of Turku (1997-2012). He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Klaipeda University (Lithuania) and the University of Tartu (Estonia). He is the honorary consul of Estonia in Southwest Finland. After his retirement in 2012, Keijo continues with his research on migration. The John Morton Center for North American Studies was established at the University of Turku in 2014 as led by him. He is the chair of the Council of the Institute of Migration. Keijo and his wife Orvokki have two children, Seppo and Marjaana, and six grandchildren. Seppo has a doctorate in Information Technology and Marjaana in Musicology.

Keijo Virtanen will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on Saturday afternoon.


Tammy Squitti
SquittiTammy Squitti is a Lakehead alumna and the chairperson on the Board of Directors of Nanabijou Childcare Centre located on Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay campus. She has volunteered with this Board of Directors for nine years and was instrumental in the planning and construction of the new $3.5 million childcare centre, offering a nurturing learning environment for children of Lakehead University students, faculty, staff and the community. Tammy is a proud member of the Nisga’a Nation. She graduated from Confederation College’s Social Service Worker Program and has worked in vocational rehabilitation at The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board for 27 years. She obtained the designation of a Registered Certified Vocational Professional from the College of Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals and the Vocational Rehabilitation Association of Canada. While working full-time, Tammy attended Lakehead University as a part-time student and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in May 2006.

Tammy’s commitment to the wellness of our community is evident in her 10 years of continuous volunteer service with the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre in the Aboriginal Community Council Program, participating in Restorative Justice Circles to support the people of Thunder Bay. She also volunteers with the Thunder Bay Police Service sponsorship committee in support of Special Olympics Ontario and the Can Am Police-Fire Games. Tammy is married to Robert Squitti and her favourite role in life is the one called “Mom” to their only child – Robert Squitti Jr.

Tammy will be named Fellow of the University on Saturday morning.

Bill Bartley
BartleyBill Bartley was born in Atikokan, Ontario but soon moved to Thunder Bay when his father Dr. M. W. Bartley became the first Principal of Lakehead Technical Institute (now Lakehead University). Bill is also a charter student at Hammarskjold High School where he graduated prior to entering Lakehead University to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree. He followed a career in the transportation and distribution industry. Bill also served in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves for over 20 years across Canada as well as in Germany during the Cold War era.

Presently, he is both the chair of the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority and the Source Protection Authority; secretary/treasurer of the Prostate Cancer Canada Network – Thunder Bay; and treasurer of the 18 (Thunder Bay) Service Battalion Senate. Bill is a past president of the Lakehead University Alumni Association; past governor of Lakehead University; former councillor in the Municipality of Shuniah; past vice-president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association; past board member of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario; and past director of the ROMA Insurance Board. Over the past two years, Bill has been honoured not only by his fellow alumni but now by his university community. In 2015, Bill was awarded the “Alumni Legacy Award’ and now he will be joining his late father as a Fellow of the University. He looks forward to his renewed association with Lakehead University.

Bill will be named Fellow of the University on Saturday afternoon.

Convocation Schedule

Friday, May 27 – 2 pm
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Business Administration
Faculty of Engineering

Saturday, May 28 – 9:30 am
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences

Saturday, May 28 – 2 pm
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Faculty of Natural Resources Management