Algoma University

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Coordinates: 46°30′12.86″N 84°17′56.08″W / 46.5035722°N 84.2989111°W / 46.5035722; -84.2989111

Algoma University
Motto "Truth, Knowledge, and Wisdom"
Established 1965
Type Public
Chancellor Shirley Horn[1]
President Craig Chamberlin[2]
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1600
Location Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Campus Urban
Tag line Small University, Big Education
Colours red, grey, white
Athletics Algoma Thunderbirds[3]
Mascot Boomer the Thunderbolt
Affiliations AUCC, CBIE

Algoma University (Algoma U) is a post-secondary institution in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1965, Algoma University is the smallest undergraduate-only university in Ontario. With a particular focus on the needs of Northern Ontario, Algoma U is a teaching-focused and student-centred post-secondary institution, specializing in liberal arts, sciences, and professional degree programs. Located on the former site of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, Algoma U has a special mission to provide and cultivate cross-cultural learning between Aboriginal populations and other communities. Algoma U also offers satellite programming in Brampton and Timmins, Ontario.

From its founding in 1965 until June 18, 2008, Algoma U was an affiliated college of Laurentian University in Sudbury and was officially known as Algoma University College. The enabling legislation is the Algoma University Act, 2008.[4]


Shingwauk Hall: From "Teaching Wigwam" to Residential School[edit]

Bishop Fauquier Memorial Chapel
Residential school memorial
Algoma University Campus

The original vision for Shingwauk Hall in the early 19th century came from Chief Augustin Shingwaik, the chief of the Ojibway people, as he felt "that the future Ojibway needed to learn the white man's academic method of education in order to survive in what was becoming a 'predominately non-native world with non-native values'".[5] While Chief Shingwauk's vision of a teaching wigwam for his people would not come to fruition in his lifetime, a residential school would eventually receive funding in 1872 from the combined efforts of Chiefs Augustin Shingwauk and Buhkwujjenene Shingwauk (Chief Shingwauk's sons) and the Anglican Missionary, Rev. Edward Francis Wilson.[6] The initial building was constructed in Garden River First Nation in 1873 and housed 16 students. It tragically burnt down 6 days later. A new building was erected in Sault Ste. Marie in 1875.[7] The residential school provided religious instruction and occupational training for Indian youth.

Shingwauk Hall would eventually become part of the broader movement across Canada to assimilate Canada's First Nations peoples, straying far from Chief Shingwauk's vision for a teaching wigwam. Students in the residential school system endured poor living conditions, physical and emotional abuse and segregation from their own family members.[8]

Shingwauk Hall, presently the main building of Algoma University College, was erected in 1935 after it was deemed the original building had deteriorated beyond repair.[9]

Algoma University College to Algoma University[edit]

The desire to establish an undergraduate liberal arts college in Sault Ste. Marie originated as a broad citizens’ movement in the 1950s. In October 1964, the Algoma College Association was incorporated by letters patent of the Province of Ontario. One year later, on 17 December 1965, Algoma University College was established as a non-sectarian institution affiliated with Laurentian University after the Affiliation Agreement was signed. In September 1967, Algoma University College began offering courses to its first 77 students at what is today Sault College, formally then known as Cambrian College, under the leadership of Principal Reverend Charles A. Krug (1966–68). The majority of students studying at Algoma University College were mature or "extension" students looking to enahnce their post-secondary education by taking first-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) courses.[10]

Part-time enrolment expanded to over 1000 students by 1969-70. The year 1971 marked a significant turning point in Algoma University College's history in respect to both program and facilities. In May, in recognition of the rapid maturation of the post-secondary institution, the Department of University Affairs approved Algoma University College's request to offer second- and third-year level courses, thereby giving the institution the ability to offer full-time, three-year programming in Bachelor of Arts degrees. In addition, in September 1971, the Algoma University College was relocated to a new site, acquiring by lease Shingwauk Hall and the former Shingwauk Indian Residential School site. In 1975, with the assistance of a grant from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the college purchased Shingwauk Hall and 37 acres (15 ha) of land surrounding the buildings.[11] Algoma University College would later purchase Shingwauk Hall.

By purchasing Shingwauk Hall, tensions arose between university members, the community, and the First Nations population. A curriculum was proposed to soothe and entrench understanding and demonstrate Algoma University College's commitment to cross-cultural learning and diversity. The Shingwauk Project was founded in 1979, which laid the foundation for the reaffirmation of a positive and respectful relationship between the post-secondary institution and First Nations people. Algoma University College also received its own emblem, the Thunderbird, as designed by Dora de Pedery-Hunt in 1972.[12]

Construction began to further enhance the new site of Algoma University College. In 1989, the Arthur A. Wishart Library opened, followed by the opening of the George Leach Centre in 1992. Student residence buildings were constructed in 1995 2001, and later in 2012. In 2005, a $6 million technology wing was opened, which included state-of-the-art technology and computer labs, the 'Great West Life Amphitheatre' (a 250+ seat lecture hall), a new student centre, cafeteria, faculty offices, a bookstore and campus shop, and a new pub.[13] During this time, academic programming also expanded tenfold, with many of Algoma University College's programs earning their four-year, becoming Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science honours programs.

On 19 May 2006, Algoma University College entered into a new relationship, which further entrenched its pre-existing relationship with First Nations people. Algoma University College and Shingwauk Education Trust (SET) / Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (SKG) signed the Covenant, which demonstrated the two parties' agreement to work together alongside each other in the pursuit of their goals to provide quality education to Anishinaabe students and students of all cultural backgrounds.[14]

Algoma's independence from Laurentian University was first proposed in 1994. The original proposal would have seen the school renamed Shingwauk University, but it was not ultimately pursued by the MTCU. On May 31, 2007, the government of Ontario announced that it would introduce legislation to charter Algoma University College as a fully independent university. After the government passed the Algoma University Act, it was given royal assent by David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, on June 18, 2008.[15] On 13 July 2009, Algoma University conferred its first degrees as an independent university, with 60 students earning Algoma University degrees.[16]


Algoma provides 30 plus programs - three and four year bachelor's degrees in disciplines such as social work, community development, English, history, psychology, sociology, biology, business, computer science, music and fine arts.

The university also offers extension programming in Timmins and Brampton.


The Algoma Conservatory of Music, which offers music lessons to about 1000 students in the community, has a working relationship with Algoma. Concurrently with Algoma's charter as an independent university, Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, an Anishinaabe cultural and linguistic federated school opened in the fall of 2008.[17]

The university has diploma-to-degree agreements with Cambrian College, Confederation College, George Brown College, Humber College, Mohawk College, Northern College, Sheridan College, Sault College and Seneca College, as well as a student exchange agreement with the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.[18]


The Algoma University Libraries is a member of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Ontario Council of University Libraries and is a contributor to Open Content Alliance.[19]


Academic and administrative buildings[edit]

Shingwauk Hall and Adjacent Wings (East, West and North-West)[edit]

Shingwauk Hall

Shingwauk Hall is currently used to house various classrooms, as well as administrative and faculty offices. It is connected on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd levels by links to the newer East, West and North-West wings that house further classrooms, research space and offices.[9] The second floor of Shingwauk Hall (SH200's) houses various student services, including Co-Op and Career Services, the Learning Center, Student Advisors and the ESL Program.[20]

Essar Convergence Centre[edit]

In 2009 Algoma received more than $16 million to build a biosciences and technology convergence centre. Ground was broken for the new building in September 2009.[21] Along with state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory space for students and professors, the building is home to various research institutes, including the Health Informatics Research Institute, the Invasive Species Research Institute, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and Algoma Games for Health.[22] The building opened its doors to students in September 2011, and was officially named the Essar Convergence Centre in a ceremony including David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, in August, 2012.

Brampton programming[edit]

Algoma University at Brampton offers accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees designed specifically for college graduates and mature students. Students can choose to pursue a general BBA or specialize in accounting, human resource management, or marketing. "Diploma-to-Degree" students may earn their degree in as little as 20 months. Algoma U at Brampton is located at Market Square Business Centre.

St. Thomas programming[edit]

Algoma offered extension programming in St. Thomas, Ontario from September 2012 until April 2015.[23] The first two years of select Bachelor of Arts programs were offered under a block plan model, where students took one course at a time. After their first two years, they were expected to move to Algoma U's main campus in Sault Ste. Marie.[24][25]

Timmins programming[edit]

Algoma University at Timmins offers bachelor's degrees in Social Work and Community Development on the campus of Northern College. These programs are designed for diploma-to-degree or university transfer students.

Athletics and recreation[edit]

George Leach Centre[edit]

The George Leach Centre (GLC), the home of the Algoma Thunderbirds, is located on the campus of Algoma University. Built in 1992, and named after Algoma University’s first-ever Athletics Director, George Leach, the GLC provides Algoma University students and community members with access to fitness equipment. Today, the GLC also hosts regional, provincial, and national level competitions.

As of March 2015, the GLC opened a brand new state-of-the-art 10,000-square foot expansion, in addition to its 39,000-square foot pre-existing structure. This new weight room fitness space features new strength and cardio equipment. The expansion also boasts three new aerobic studios with aerobics equipment. These large spaces overlook the campus and provide lots of natural lighting. One of these studios has also been converted into a Spin Studio with 15 new digital spin bikes.

The gymnasium or field house features three regulation court surfaces, which accommodate a wide range of athletic activities such as badminton, basketball, volleyball, and tennis. One court has been specially designed with a dimple surface for better tennis play. The gym area is surrounded by a 1/9th mile indoor walking and jogging track. The GLC also boats a sauna, change rooms with lockers, varsity change rooms, and private change rooms for refereeing officials.[26]

The Speakeasy[edit]

The Speakeasy is Algoma University’s student centre. Attached to the cafeteria, The Speakeasy operates as a patio, pub, and entertainment hub. Students can enjoy a place to relax during the day or evening, listen to live bands and performances, study, or catch-up on the latest entertainment happening on screen. Planned evening events that happen annually include: karaoke nights, acoustic jam and open mic nights, themed Thursday night pubs, live bands, comedy nights, and cultural dinners.[27]


Algoma U has three residence facilities: The Dr. Lou Lukenda Dormitory, the Spirit Village Townhouse Residence and the Downtown Residence. All residences are equipped with wireless high-speed internet.

Dr. Lou Lukenda Dormitory[edit]

Built in September 2003, the facility contains 45 single bedrooms. Each bedroom is fully furnished with a bed, desk, dresser, closet and telephone and shares a common bathroom with one other bedroom.

Spirit Village Townhouse[edit]

The entire complex consists of 15 townhouses, housing 75 students. Each townhouse unit has five single bedrooms, two bathrooms, a common kitchen and living room.[28]

Downtown residence[edit]

Opened in September 2010, the downtown residence is a converted local hotel landmark. Each room is fully furnished with a single bed, dresser, closet, telephone, mini-fridge, television and private bathroom. There are shared kitchen facilities and common rooms in various areas throughout the building.[29] The Downtown Residence closed its doors in April 2015.

New Residence[edit]

With construction starting in late 2011, a new residence building opened at Algoma University for the start of the 2012 school year. Housing over 96 students, the New Dorms is fully furnished with an open concept area, a single bed, a large dresser and a desk with a working telephone and high speed wireless internet connection. The student shares a bathroom with another room mate of the same sex. There is a shared common room on every floor of the complex with working microwaves and HD TV with satellite.[30]

Student life[edit]

Algoma Thunderbirds logo.

The Algoma University Thunderbirds participate in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) conferences in the sports of basketball, soccer, cross-country running, curling, wrestling, and Nordic Skiing. Prior to making the move to the OUA and CIS in 2013, the Algoma Thunderbirds competed in the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association (OCAA) in the sports of basketball, curling, and indoor soccer.

The university's student newspaper is The Sentient.

The students are represented by the Algoma University Students' Union (AUSU).[31] AUSU is local 82 of the Canadian Federation of Students. Anishinaabe students of Algoma University have an active Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students' Association (SASA) and are represented on the Algoma University Student Union executive, the Anishinaabe Peoples Council (an advisory committee of the Board of Governors) and the Cross Cultural Committee.[32]

Algoma also publishes an annual literary journal, Algoma Ink.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Algoma University Act, 2008
  5. ^
  6. ^ Provincial plaque, Bishop Fauquier Chapel, Algoma University College in Mary Ellen Perkins (ed.) 'Discover your heritage: A Guide to Provincial Plaques in Ontario' Natural Heritage (Jun 30 1989) ISBN 0920474500
  7. ^ Shingwauk Indian Residential School — Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  8. ^, June 14th, 2010
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^, pg. 6
  11. ^ Algoma University.Academic Calendar, 2010-2011 ed.; Introduction: History of Algoma University, pg. iii
  12. ^, pg. 7-8
  13. ^ intro
  14. ^, pg 9
  15. ^ Sault Ste. Marie News and Video :: :: It's Official!
  16. ^, pg. 10
  17. ^ "New Anishinaabe university starts this fall at Algoma U",, February 21, 2008.
  18. ^ Algoma University: Partners
  19. ^ Ontario Council of university Libraries
  20. ^ Algoma University - Student Services
  21. ^
  22. ^ Algoma University - Science and Technology
  23. ^
  24. ^ Algoma University eyes city campus | Local | News | St. Thomas Times-Journal
  25. ^ Algoma U expands to St. Thomas, Ontario
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Algoma University - Housing
  29. ^, September 2010
  30. ^
  31. ^ Algoma University Students' Union
  32. ^ Algoma University - Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students' Association

External links[edit]