Our History

for students, by students, since 1981

Student organizations have been a part of university life for as long as the institutions themselves. As times change student organizations adapt to face the issues students need addressing. In 1981 Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) was officially incorporated in Ontario as a not-for-profit organization.

Around the same time the Canadian Federation of Student (CFS) formed from the mergers of smaller student associations across Canada with the goal of uniting student movement in Canada.

Part of the impetus to organize at the time came from the federal government's planned cuts to health and education and the ongoing issue of runaway tuition increases. 

Together students decided to create something that could provide student-oriented services and events along with institutional and political representation at the local, federal and provincial levels of government.

LUSU was the thirty-second (Local 32) student organization to join the Canadian Federation of Students and we have worked with them since then to represent the interests of our members on the provincial and federal levels of government.

Student Centre Building

Opening in September 1991 with a management agreement between the union and the university, the Student Centre's campus pub- The Outpost is owned and operated entirely by the student union and boasts a full service kitchen and a hall licensed for more than 700 people. 

2018 - Athletics Facility Referendum    

In 2018 our board of directors accepted a proposal from Lakehead Athletics Director to host a referendum to Thunder Bay students asking whether they'd support a new athletics facility. The vote passed with 79% approval.

2017 - Collective Agreement null  

In 2017 our current contract with Thunder Bay Transit came to an end. The new contract offered same services for a drastically higher fee requiring a referendum in which 81% agreed to sign a new 5 year contract.

With strength in numbers, working together as members of the

Canadian Federation of Students

alongside our coalition partners and allies, students from coast to coast have won:


  • $114 million over five years to the Canada Graduate Scholarships, providing 500 more Masters and 167 more PhD scholarships per year
  • Decreased interest rate on Canada Student Loans, averaging $2,000 in savings per student
  • A 6-month interest-free grace period after graduation on federal loans, interest-free periods for students on parental or medical leave and expanded eligibility and grant forgiveness and grants for students with disabilities
  • $327.5 million over five years to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for First Nations learners
  • $125.5 million over 10 years for Inuit student access to post-secondary education
  • $362 million over 10 years for Métis student access to post-secondary education


  • National framework created to address gender based violence in post-secondary education sector.
  • $1.7 billion federal funding for basic research.
  • Ontario students win $2.1 billion over four years in mental health services.


  • An additional $6 million annually over the next three years to assist colleges and universities in providing mental health services and supports for students, bringing the total amount of mental health funding to $15 million a year.
  • OHIP+ Children and Youth Pharmacare Program which will make prescription medications free for all children and youth 24 years of age and younger with no upfront costs.
  • An increase of $90 million for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) for Indigenous learners.
  • Expanded eligibility to Canada Student Grants for part-time students and adult learners with dependent children starting in 2018-2019.


  • Undemocratic elements of the Fair Elections Act that sought to suppress young voters are repealed.
  • $339 million over three years to the Canada Summer Jobs program.
  • Legislation in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia requiring post-secondary institutions to have stand-alone sexual assault and harassment policies.
  • Additional $95 million Federal investment in public research funding through the Tri-Council Agencies for Graduate Students.
  • $165.4 million in additional funding for the Federal Youth Employment Strategy.
  • Creation of the Ontario Student Grant (OSG), increasing low-income Ontario students’ access to upfront, non-repayable grants.
  • A 50% increase to Canada Student Grants, bringing the maximum grants to $3,000 for low-income students, $1,200 for middle-income students and $1,800 for part-time students.
  • A $2 billion investment over three years to support research and infrastructure renewal.
  • Legislation in Ontario that mandates all college and university administrations across the province adopt sexual assault policies, effective training and prevention programs, and offer services and supports for survivors that are available 24/7.


  • A National inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people, after a decade of advocating for “No More Stolen Sisters” with our coalition partners.
  • The first-ever on-campus polling pilot project with special advanced polls on 28 campuses, which over 70,000 students used to cast their ballot.
  • Students win a tuition freeze in Alberta.


  • The right for full-time international students to use their study permits to work off-campus, rather than requiring an off-campus work permit.


  • Coverage of interns, co-ops and work term students under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario.
  • Significant changes to tuition fee billing in Ontario, including an increase in the course threshold required to charge flat fees, the elimination of graduation fees and the ability to request tuition fee splitting without incurring a fee.


  • The adoption of the Copyright Modernization Act, which extends ‘fair use’ to include education as well as the introduction of a new inter-library loan provision.


  • The defeat of the Government of Saskatchewan’s plan to withdraw funding from the First Nations University of Canada.
  • The Visa Exempt Study Permits from Abroad (VESPA), which allows some international students to apply online for off-campus and general work permits, as well as other visas and renewals is created.
  • Faster processing times of international student visa applications through the implementation of the Electronic Notification Systems by Citizenship and Immigration.
  • A 50% increase to scholarships available for graduate students through the Ontario Graduate Scholarships.
  • The launch of the “Back the Tap” campaign, resulting in nearly 30 campuses going bottled-water free to date.


  • 500 additional Canada Graduate Scholarships are funded.
  • The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows qualifying international students to obtain a three-year open work permit with no restrictions on the type of employment and no requirement for a job offer.
  • Creation of the first national system of needs-based grants.
  • Students win a tuition fee freeze in Nova Scotia until 2011.
  • The defeat of a 10 percent hike on international students’ tuition fees in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program that allows qualifying international students to obtain a 3-year open work permit with no restrictions on the type of employment and no requirement for a job offer.


  • The right of international students to work off-campus is secured.
  • The exemption of all scholarships from income tax becomes policy.


  • The first comprehensive study on the needs and experiences of Muslim students. The recommendations have been implemented on several campuses and included such issues as the need for women-only gym time, more diverse food options in cafeterias and policies that accommodate students’ religious observances.
  • The recall of t-shirts made by Blue Notes Inc. that read “NO MEANS have aNOther drink” and Blue Notes’ sponsorship of Federation designed t-shirts to challenge rape culture.


  • The reestablishment of a system of need-based grants in Ontario to replace the one that was cut in 1994.


  • Students win a tuition fee freeze in Ontario until 2006.


  • Canada Graduate Scholarships program is created.
  • The reestablishment of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) scholarships for Master’s students in the humanities and social sciences.
  • The right of refugees to access Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) is secured.


  • The reduction of tuition fee increases from 10% to 2% in Ontario after years of double-digit increases.


  • Students win a tuition fee freeze in Manitoba until 2008.
  • Greater regulations of the of the rape drug rohypnol is won.


  • Students win a tuition fee freeze in Newfoundland and Labrador.


  • Grants for students with dependents begin to be offered.
  • $2.5 billion allocated to post-secondary education primarily through needs-based scholarships.


  • $20 million in federal grants per year for three years to address the backlog of Indigenous students denied student assistance as a result of the 1987 capping of funding for Indigenous education.
  • Federal grants for students with disabilities, part-time students and women in non-traditional fields at the doctoral level are introduced.


  • The Ontario governments plan to increase tuition fees by 50% is defeated.
  • The elimination of a 3% tax on student loans.


  • The right of international students to work on campus, including for up to 1 year after they graduate is secured.
  • The right of married spouses of international students to work in Canada is secured.



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