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Northern educators named to provincial advisory panel

Leaders of Contact North, Seven Generations Education Institute will join colleagues in providing recommendations to ministry

Two educators from Northern Ontario are among eight members named to a new panel that will advise the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on ways to make postsecondary education financially sustainable and create a best-possible student experience.

Maxim Jean-Louis, president and CEO at Contact North, and Brent Tookenay, CEO of the Seven Generations Education Institute, will join their fellow advisors on a blue-ribbon panel announced by the province on March 3.

The panel will be tasked with providing the ministry with recommendations about “the actions Ontario can take to improve the financial sustainability of the postsecondary sector, to support colleges and universities in developing a skilled workforce, and to promote economic growth and innovation,” according to the province.

“Our postsecondary institutions and research institutes are important sources of job creation, skills training, research, innovation and commercialization, making them leading contributors to our overall economic growth,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities, in a March 3 news release.

“By launching a blue-ribbon panel, which will help inform actions Ontario can take to protect and grow our postsecondary education system, learners can continue to get the skills and education they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Jean-Louis has been the president and CEO at Contact North since 1996. The free, bilingual service makes online college, university and training programs available to those living in rural and remote Ontario communities without having to leave their homes.

Additionally, Jean-Louis sits on boards for Groupe Média TFO, Renewed Computer Technology, Cambrian College, and the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

A member of Couchiching First Nation, Tookenay has been the CEO of the Seven Generations Education Institute in Fort Frances for the past nine years.

He also worked for the Rainy River District School Board as the superintendent responsible for Indigenous education for eight years.

As CEO of the Seven Generations Education Institute, Tookenay provides education and training programs for the people of the Treaty #3 area. Tookenay has spent his entire career working and supporting the First Nation communities of Treaty #3 in all areas and levels of education.

Recently, Tookenay was awarded the Canadian Meritorious Service Medal for his work in Indigenous Education at the Seven Generations Education Institute.

The blue-ribbon panel is expected to meet over the coming months, weighing topics including enhancing student experience and access; rewarding excellence and financial sustainability; improving labour market alignment; promoting economic growth and prosperity; and keeping education affordable for lower and middle-income families.