NAN chimes in on law school debate
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is calling for Lakehead University to re-implement a full-credit indigenous course in the new law school’s course of study, as students continue a sit in protest.
“Nishnawbe Aski Nation supports the position of the students — I don’t think it is right to minimize the importance of the Native people from a full-credit to a half-credit,” said Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic. “After close analysis of the situation, NAN demands the university follow the original course curriculum that was approved by the Senate, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Education.”
NAN had been involved in the final approved proposal for LU’s new law school after LU’s first proposal was rejected.
“Lakehead University would be a trailblazer and fore runner in indigenous learning and legal education not only nationally but internationally by offering the original course that focuses on Indigenous worldviews,” Kakegamic said.
Lee Stuesser, dean of the new law school, said the course was changed to a half-credit to accommodate the inclusion of a criminal law component that had not been in the law school’s proposed curriculum that was originally accepted by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada in 2011.
“We had to make some changes and property law was one course that I felt we could cut from six credits to three,” Stuesser said. “And then we took a good look at the Native Canadian World View course and I thought it could run very well as a half course, complementing at the same time, a course called Foundations of Canadian Law, which is the western perspective.
We’ll see the Aboriginal perspective in the one and the western perspective in the other.”
Kakegamic said there are plenty of indigenous issues that could be studied in a full-credit indigenous course, noting that Lakehead University is located in the middle of First Nations territory.
“We want our students and other students to know our rights,” Kakegamic said. “A lot of them will also practice in our territory, so I think the dean needs to know some of the principles why the medical school became so successful. They reached out to the First Nations; they got First Nations involved.”
Kakegamic said he only learned about the half-credit indigenous course through the media.
“There was no collaboration,” Kakegamic said. “There was no consultation whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, the students were on the eighth day of their sit in next to Stevenson’s office on March 5.
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