2023 Alumni Award Recipients
- Dr. Jonathan Pitt
Dr. James Jamieson Influential Alumni Award
- Maggie Horsfield
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
- Megan Odd
Rising Star Alumni Award
- Paige Trudeau-Shemilt
Philanthropy Alumni Award
- Maurice Switzer
Honorary Alumni Award
Dr. Jonathan Pitt
Dr. James Jamieson Influential Alumni Award
Presented to a graduate whose dedication and leadership has influenced significant change and prosperity within their community. The recipient may be an alumnus of one of the following institutions: North Bay Normal School, Teacher’s College, Nipissing University College or Nipissing University.
About Dr. Jonathan Pitt
Dr. Jonathan Pitt is an Indigenous person with Anishinaabek and Haudenosaunee roots with First Nations in Quebec and holds multiple Nipissing University degrees (B.A.(Hons), B.Ed., AdEd., M.Ed.). He completed a doctorate in education at the University of South Africa.
During his time as a student at Nipissing, he was a decorated athlete, notably as a member of the Varsity Lakers Nordic Ski Team.
Dr. Pitt was a full-time faculty member at Nipissing University in the Schulich School of Education and later started teaching as a Contract Academic Staff Bargaining Unit (CASBU) instructor while simultaneously working as a schoolteacher. In addition to teaching Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education courses during the fall and winter terms, Dr. Pitt teaches Indigenous Studies in Nipissing University’s Summer Indigenous Institute (SII) and Indigenous Foundations Program (IFP) for Enji giigdoyang – Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII). He is an advocate and regularly integrates Biidaaban Community Service-Learning (CSL) within the courses he teaches.
Dr. Pitt has taught in the Faculty of Arts and Science, the M.Ed/Ph.D Program, the Indigenous Teacher Education Programs (ITEP), and in the Teacher of Indigenous Language as a Second Language (TILSL) Program in the Schulich School of Education and consistently scores highly on student course evaluations.
Many of Dr. Pitt’s colleagues consider him a leader in Indigenous Studies and Education.
As an Indigenous Educator, he incorporates his life experiences and land-based knowledge to his courses by bringing students onto the land to demonstrate that learning that can occur outside the classroom walls, something that his students share as important to their learning and communities.
Dr. Pitt was part of the planning team for the Teacher of Indigenous Language as a Second Language (TILSL) program. He has worked as an Indigenization Advisor to the Nipissing University Faculty Association (NUFA) and with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in December 2014 as a curriculum consultant for Drew Hayden Taylor’s play entitled Spirit Horse and again in 2016 providing input on how Indigenous teachers can be supported in their role.
Since 2014, he has been featured regularly in the media lending knowledge as an Indigenous Scholar for radio interviews for CBC and multiple newspaper articles on topics such as teachings, ceremonial sites, spiritual places, pictographs and other topics. To date, he has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and served as the editor for Indigenous-created teacher resource books such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action.
In June 2023, Dr. Pitt was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (CASBU) By Nipissing University at their annual Convocation celebrations for his leadership and commitment to Indigenous Studies and Education.
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is presented to an alumnus whose achievement and excellence in their endeavours have distinguished them as a valued leader. The recipient will have demonstrated positive influence through their professional pursuits and as a result of their actions, the alumnus will have made a strong contribution to the prestige and reputation of Nipissing University.
About Maggie Horsfield
A lifelong North Bay resident, Maggie Horsfield holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Political Science and History from Nipissing University and a Postgraduate Certificate in Global Development Challenges from the University of Edinburgh.
Maggie began her career at Nipissing University after graduating in 2014 as a Student Recruitment Officer before moving to the President’s Office as the Executive Assistant and coordinates the University’s annual Convocation ceremonies.
A dedicated community member, Maggie was elected Deputy Mayor of the City of North Bay in 2022 and serves on the North Bay Police Services Board, the Heritage North Bay Board, the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities Board. She also serves as the Chair of the Lindsay Weld Centre for Children and has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Near North Crime Stoppers and the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.
Maggie previously chaired the Young Professionals Committee while serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In 2020, she received the Chamber Young Professional of the Year Award and in 2022, she was elected Newsmaker of the Year by Baytoday.ca.
Maggie is passionate about building relationships and connecting people to grow community engagement. She actively engages with community members on social media and assists individuals in connecting with City services and community organizations.
Maggie recently earned the title of mother and welcomed her son, Silas, in July 2023.
Rising Star Alumni Award
The Rising Star Alumni Award is presented to a recent graduate of Nipissing University who has demonstrated significant achievements on a professional, community or volunteer basis or has displayed promise of significant future accomplishments. It is awarded to an alumnus who has graduated in the last five years.
About Megan Odd
Megan Odd graduated from Nipissing University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Criminal Justice in 2020, and a Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology in 2022. During her time at Nipissing, she was actively engaged in research and the community through her undergraduate and graduate theses.
In 2021, she was invited to present her undergraduate honours thesis research, “Implementing the Eight-Lamp Amber-Red Advanced Warning Light System on School Buses in Ontario”, to the Province’s Legislative Assembly in support of Bill-246, the Safer School Buses Act. This experience along with her growing interest in research led her to the decision to pursue a master’s degree.
While completing her MA, Megan worked full-time as a Housing and Homelessness Planner and Analyst at the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB). While in this position, she was responsible for coordinating the 2021 point-in-time count and survey of homelessness in the Nipissing District, submitting provincial shelter reports, and co-developing the district’s first Coordinated Access service system, “Coordinated Access Nipissing”. It was in this role that she narrowed my master’s thesis topic.
Megan’s master’s thesis research titled “Locked Down but No Where to Go: Analyzing Homelessness in the District of Nipissing, Ontario, Canada before, at the Onset and During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2018-2021)” investigated the structural and individual-level barriers and factors associated with becoming or remaining homeless, along with trends and sociodemographic variations in the reasons for housing loss, barriers to housing, episodic and chronic homelessness. She successfully completed her MA thesis defense in August 2022.
As a graduate student, Megan was awarded two Ontario Graduate Scholarships. Her research was also the recipient of funding through her supervisor’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant.
Following her graduation in September 2022, Meghan was hired at Canadore College as a Research Officer while also given the opportunity to teach sociology part-time. In January 2023, she transitioned from this role to full-time Professor of Social Sciences.
In May 2023, Megan was selected to present at the 2023 Canadian Population Society (CPS) Conference at York University in Toronto.
In July 2023, she successfully published alongside Dr. Amir Erfani, the first of two manuscripts related to her thesis research. Their second manuscript is currently in revisions and will be ready to submit for publishing in the coming months.
To this day, Megan remains actively engaged in research through Canadore acting as a faculty researcher on two projects.
Philanthropy Alumni Award
The newly created Philanthropy Alumni Award is presented to an alumnus or champion of Nipissing University who is making significant contributions to improve their community through their generosity, dedication, commitment and service. The ideal candidate is passionate about an important social cause, freely gives their time, exemplifies great leadership qualities and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the social challenge related to his or her cause. This can include attempting to break down biases, change perceptions and alleviate issues impeding progress while working toward conquering a problem or responding to a need in a tangible way.
About Paige Trudeau-Shemilt
At a young age, Paige Trudeau-Shemilt was formally introduced to public speaking and inspiring others through her own fight with cancer.
Her father, Rod Shemilt, initially brought the Relay to Life to North Bay, where at age eight, Paige became its first honorary chair, and delivered her first formal community speech, to help bring a vision to North Bay for what would be a new tradition in the fight, at a local level. This is when she knew she wanted to continue to raise awareness and inspire others.
Paige continued to share her personal battle with cancer, speaking at local schools during Terry Fox campaigns from ages twelve to seventeen. She also took part in local events, such as the COLOUR RUN, as an honorary chair and spokesperson. Other experiences included working with the AIDS Committee of North Bay, the North Bay Health Unit and local youth athletic clubs.
Paige graduated from Nipissing University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Business Administration witha major in Marketing and minor in Psychology. Her goals were to work for non-profit groups in public relations.
Within her first year of working full-time at Oxford Learning North Bay, her goal to work to change lives was affirmed. Watching students grow, learn, and develop their confidence was more rewarding than she could have imagined.
At age 24, Paige stepped into the role of North Bay Chapter Co-President for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Canada. Fundraising for CF gave her the opportunity to advocate and create awareness for this requisite organization within her community. For five years, she was a co-organizer for the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History, during this time, she hosted and organized numerous events and fundraisers.
In 2019, she married her high school sweetheart, Jordan Gardiner, who himself was living with Cystic Fibrosis. A few days before their wedding, Jordan was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. This life altering event sparked even more energy in raising awareness specifically for colon cancer.
In 2022, she co-founded “Jordan's Bash for Hope”, a colon cancer fundraising event which included a music festival and volleyball tournament. Funds were raised for Colon Cancer Canada, specifically the “Never too Young” program, and for North Bay families going through their own health battles.
Unfortunately, Jordan lost his battle with cancer in early 2023. Paige and her co-organizer intend on continuing this event and hope to grow it each year.
Paige has endeavoured tirelessly in her commitment to various efforts and organizations over 23 years and continues to be recognized. In 2021, she was the recipient of the Franchisee of the Year Award which is awarded across all Canadian companies from the Canadian Franchise Association. She was also the recipient of the Northern Ontario Volunteer Leadership Award in 2020 from Cystic Fibrosis Canada and she was recognized by Colon Cancer Canada for her dedication in promoting early detection of colon cancer.
Paige intends to continue her philanthropic work and hopes to inspire the youth in our community to do the same.
Honorary Alumni Award
The Honorary Alumni Award is presented to an individual who is not a graduate of the university, but whose actions and dedication have made a positive impact on the Nipissing University experience. This honour recognizes friends of Nipissing University for outstanding service, commitment and contribution, past or present, to the University.
About Maurice Switzer
At an early age in Toronto, Maurice Switzer was minded during the day by his grandfather Harry, who migrated to Canada in the early 1900s to escape anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire.
He spent his early elementary school days in the Lakefield home of his grandparents Moses and Nellie Marsden, who had left the Missisaugas of Alderville First Nation to seek employment and education opportunities for their family.
The Marsdens were the first Indigenous family to settle in Lakefield and Maurice was the first Indigenous student to attend Trent University in nearby Peterborough, which he left midway through his sophomore year to begin a 30-year daily newspaper career.
He began as a cub reporter with the Belleville Intelligencer and retired as a publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, the only Indigenous person – and one of the few of Jewish ancestry or journalism background – to hold such a position in that industry.
Learning that Indigenous youths were statistically more likely to spend time in jail than graduate from high school was the epiphany that instructed Maurice’s future life choices.
His first job in an Indigenous environment was helping to develop the country’s only Indigenous post-secondary diploma program in journalism at the First Nations Technical Institute on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, birthplace of his maternal great-grandmother, Esther Hill.
Combining his media experience with a thirst for learning more about Indigenous cultures, Maurice became the Communications Director at the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa and then the Union of Ontario Indians outside North Bay, before retiring from full-time work in 2014.
Today, he continues the public education initiatives that he launched at First Nations political organizations. Over 15,000 copies are in print of his graphic novel “We are All Treaty People”, and he delivers virtual and real-time presentations about the treaty relationship for education, corporate, and government audiences across Ontario.
As chair of the Nipissing University Indigenous Council on Education, Maurice is a constituent member of the University’s Board of Governors as well as the President of the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, a board member for the North Bay-Parry Sound Public Health Unit, and an advisory member of the board of the White Water Gallery.
He served for three years as a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and is currently a member of the commission’s Indigenous Reconciliation Advisory Group. In 2020, he was among a group of local residents who founded Equity and Inclusion North Bay, along with previous Influential Alumni Award recipient Gemma Victor.
In addition, he is an advisory circle member of the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council of Ontario, and the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Education Association of Ontario, one of six members of the Alderville First Nation’s Williams Treaty Settlement Trust, and a board member of Lakefield College School where he was a scholarship student for his five high school years.
His son Adin and grandson Jacob are both captains in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Maurice Switzer’s Indigenous and Jewish heritages continue to inform the activities in which he involves himself.