Correction: APTN News incorrectly labelled the Bora Laskin Law School as an Indigenous law school in this story on Friday. While Indigenous laws and rights are a part of the school’s agenda, Natural Resources and Environmental Law, and Sole, Small Town Practice with the Integrated Practice Curriculum is also taught according to the school’s website.
A judge who jailed six members of the Kitchenumaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation in Treaty 9 has been named the interim head of the Indigenous law school at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Ten years ago, Justice George Patrick Smith sent the chief and five councillors from KI to jail for contempt of court because they refused to stop blocking access to their territory to a resource company.
Chief Donny Morris was one of those jailed.
“For him to take interim… it has to be somebody else in that position,” Morris told APTN News.
“It is a polluted environment now. Some sort of opposition will be forthcoming in the form of a letter.”
The university is searching for a full-time dean of the law school after the departure of Angelique EagleWoman who resigned saying that she experienced racism and a university board that was apathetic towards Indigenous issues.
Morris questioned whether Smith had an understanding of the country’s Indigenous issues when he sentenced the six KI members almost a decade ago. He said he invited Smith to his community after his release from prison, but the justice never accepted.
“He would’ve heard firsthand from our elders why we are like this,” Morris said. “We truly believe this is our land, our area, our issues, the non-native system is not recognized. It’s faith-based too, we believe God put us here, this is our area, we didn’t migrate here. We were born and raised here, this is our land, our territory and his expertise and his areas contradicts what we believe in.”
More to come…
With files from Willow Fiddler