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50th Year

We Celebrated 50 Years in 2020

50 years of passion for what we do, where we are, and who we are. 50 years of inspiring students and investing in our communities. 50 years of relentlessly pursuing our quest for excellence. 50 years of game changing and trailblazing.

Northern Lakes College was founded to enable adults to continue their education, improve their employment, and enhance their quality of life.

A History of Excellence

Over our first 50 years, Northern Lakes College transformed in many ways, but one thing will always remain the same; our commitment to providing access to quality educational programs and services. With innovative delivery technologies, we have grown to meet the needs of students across Alberta, Canada, and beyond.

Excerpts from VISION

Vision book

Northern Lakes College released Vision, a 50th year commemorative book. Read through some excerpts from the book below or browse the full book online.


Elder Mabel Grey was involved with Northern Lakes College for 33 years, from 1972 to 2005. In 1972, a representative of the CVCs visited the community of Atikameg to see if there might be interest in establishing a local adult learning centre. These are her memories from that time:

The people of the community wanted it right away. We even had an old-age pensioner who wanted to return to school! The community took me as the head of the project. The reason it worked is because we were able to hire one of our own as the instructor. We selected a community member to attend theEducation Technician program at Alberta Vocational Centre – Grouard, and then she came back and taught adult upgrading at the Atikameg CVC. Over the years, if the students were struggling or facing challenges, the instructor would call me and I would go to the campus and talk to the students. I spoke to them in our own language, and that made a difference.

I was the Chairperson of the Atikameg EMC/CEC from 1972 to 2005 and a member of the Council of Community Education Committees throughout that time. In the later years, my husband, Russell Grey, accompanied me to all of my meetings and he became well-known around the College. I was also on the Board of Governors of Northern Lakes College for four years from 1998 to 2002.

Many times, over the years, I thought I might retire, but the students didn’t want me to. I finally retired in 2005 when President Dan Vandermeulen retired. Northern Lakes College is important for people to have their second chance at an education.


Nick Williams was a key player in refining the delivery model and the model of support which the learner received at each campus. Nick was Senior Instructor of the Distance Learning High School, which was responsible for the delivery of all online offerings of Academic Upgrading courses.

“The College made a deliberate decision, in the early 1990s, to continue to champion synchronous distance learning, in order to foster active learning with students. Throughout the decade, a concerted effort formalized the role of the distance [online] instructor and the “site coordinator” [campus instructor],” explains Nick.

At each campus, the onsite instructor helped students with connections and teleconferencing protocols. The visual component was transmitted using the telewriter, a very heavy monitor that resembled an old-style, boxy 21-inch TV. It sat on top of a desktop computer. The modem received and transmitted the visual signal. A convener the size of a shoe box delivered the audio, while bulky microphones were connected with thick cables to the back of the audio unit. Students shared a keyboard and a very large writing pad with an electronic pen, all connected with cables. A class always started with a phone call from Deloris Bonnett, the Bridge Operator in Slave Lake. The students had to answer the call and transfer the audio connection from the telephone to the microphones and convener before hanging up. With so many cables and components, technical problems inevitably occurred. Community members were hired as Access Facilitators to assist students with technology connections. It was testament to the resilience and persistence of both students and instructors that courses were successfully delivered and completed.


Northern Lakes College has always been part of Andy Alook’s life. As a youngster, he would often accompany his dad, Russell Alook, to the campus. Russell was a graduate of the Ed Tech program in 1974, then went on to be an instructor in the Academic Upgrading program at the Wabasca Campus for over 30 years. After raising her family, Andy’s mother took the Health Care Aide program at NLC. It was only natural that Andy would find himself as a student of the College.

Born and raised in Desmarais on the Bigstone Cree Nation, Andy graduated from Mistassiniy School. After attending NAIT, he returned home, completing one year of Academic Upgrading at NLC. In 2007, he enrolled in the College’s Computer Technician program. Certification in hand, Andy began work with the Bigstone Education Authority as a Computer Technician at the Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik School. Soon, he was promoted to Network Administrator.

In 2009, Andy became the Website Development and Communications Liaison for the Bigstone Health Commission. In 2011, he returned to NLC to take the Business Administration Management Diploma program. Graduating in 2013, he returned to the Bigstone Health Commission, working various positions in Finance and Health.

Now the Assistant Director of Health for the Bigstone Health Commission, Andy is proud of his family’s long history with NLC. “It is so important for people to have the opportunity to pursue an education within their community. I know only too well the difficulties of leaving the community to pursue an education. NLC being in the community and offering a wide variety of programs allows community members to pursue post-secondary goals they otherwise could not.”