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2013-02-25 at 15:45

‘Grave injustice’

By Jodi Lundmark,
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Some Lakehead University students are upset about the removal of an Indigenous Learning course from the new law school’s curriculum.

A group of about 35 students staged a sit-in Monday in protest of the Native Canadian Worldviews course being changed from a full-credit undergraduate course to a mandatory, half-credit course taught by a law professor that will focus on legal aspects.

Fourth-year political science and pre-law student Faye Fraser said she believes the change in the course is a grave injustice to the community.

“This law school means a lot to a lot of people and providing an institution that’s going to speak to the issues regarding our communities and our region is significant,” she said.

“We are in the process of obtaining an education that will give us the tools to navigate and to construct and facilitate our future society. The Indigenous Learning program at the law school is an imperative to provide us with the tools to do that,” said Fraser, adding the course is integral to the law school and anything less than the original program is a significant compromise.

Lee Stuesser, dean of the faculty of law, sat with the protesting students Monday afternoon and answered questions.

He said everyone is on the same page when it comes to the importance of Aboriginal issues in the law school and he sympathizes with the students’ cause.

However, the students need to realize the university is trying to build a law school.

Some people think the Native Canadian Worldviews class was intended to be brought from the Indigenous Learning program into the law school, but that was never Stuesser's interpretation.

“That’s never been my perspective because law schools across the country, they don’t have non-law courses as mandatory parts of their programs. You need to focus on the law,” he said.

“I’m crafting a program which respects the Aboriginal world view, but putting it into a law course.”

Although the course has been altered, Aboriginal issues are still prominent in the program, which Stuesser said makes Lakehead’s program unique.

“We’re doing things that other law schools don’t do at all,” he said. “We undertake to integrate Aboriginal issues in all of our courses.”

Sebastian Murdoch-Gibson, a second-year Indigenous Learning student, took the undergraduate Native Canadian Worldviews course and said it changed his life.

“It’s a course that teaches you to really think and to engage with western institutions – law, government, economics – from a critical perspective and re-evaluate maybe what assumptions you had previously brought into your life,” he said.

Although he was disappointed in what Stuesser had to say, Murdoch-Gibson also wasn’t surprised.

“He is adamant that the course which was eliminated would compromise the credibility of the law school and particularly that law students coming in would not take the course seriously because it’s not a law course,” he said.

“I think it is disappointing that Mr. Stuesser has taken this opportunity to speak on behalf of his students and immediately has put them in a position where by proxy they are refusing to take alternative perspectives seriously.”

The students said they would continue their sit-in outside of LU president Brian Stevenson’s office until the course was reinstated.



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blue says:
"The students said they would continue their sit-in outside of LU president Brian Stevenson’s office until the course was reinstated"
These students should be disiplined it's time they realized they don't run the University.
2/25/2013 9:52:00 PM
Glyder says:
Disciplined? For what may I ask? They are there on their own time. What, are they in grade-school/high-school and skipping class? They are paying for their own school. They are adults, making an adult choice. Who are you to say they need to be disciplined?

2/26/2013 11:35:11 AM
spinthebig4 says:
Disciplined? Do you live in Communist China? Under section 2 of the Charter of rights and freedoms, people have the right to Freedom of assembly (no matter what the government of the day wants you to think), and no, the students don't run the university, but they do have a vested interest in how it's run, because it reflects on them.
2/26/2013 11:02:42 AM
Baor says:
How exactly does the running of a University "reflect " on the students?
2/26/2013 10:09:09 PM
Shine0n says:
As a student of this course, I truly believe that this course is imperative to understanding the law from an Aboriginal perspective. This course changed my life and the way I look at things. I recommend it to everyone. You will truly be shocked as to how little you know about the issues surrounding Aboriginal people in Canada(and this is coming from someone who has a college diploma and is working on a BA in the related field. The original proposal for a law school was denied and the second proposal, which including a large Aboriginal proponent was approved specifically because of the Aboriginal proponent. As a prospective future law school student it outrages me that I will be paying for a watered-down curriculum. Regardless of what the dean says, it will undoubtedly be watered down. Nobody can teach this course like Dennis McPherson can. And for the absolute moron who thinks the students should be disciplined. Last time I checked we pay for the University to run. We do have a say.
2/27/2013 4:06:41 PM
moi says:
that's nice, that in your mind.. "we pay for the University to run". Hogwash.

The longer you sit in protest outside Stevenson's office, the faster you'll lose the entire semester.Hope you like the word "incomplete" on your transcripts.And..because you're so sure you "pay for the University to run", then I'm sure all the profs of every course you're currently enrolled while this "protest" is underway,will be completely sympathetic and give you that magic passing grade. Yeah, by all means,continue with the sit-in...

Grow up. Life isn't fair sometimes,and the sooner you come to terms with this fact,the sooner you can complete your undergraduate studies and contribute to society,instead of thinking the world owes you something.
2/28/2013 3:15:04 PM
Shine0n says:
The students have been leaving to attend class. While we are passionate on the issues, we are not idiots, hence our ability to obtain entry into University. ;)

So what you're saying is that when injustices happen we should just sit back and take it? Fortunately, I'd rather be the one to make a change than be the one to be a sheep and follow the crowd.
3/1/2013 6:16:38 PM
moi says:
Well then...that makes it "our bad" then.

You for not pointing out that you're not missing classes,
And me for not asking.And I never called any of you "an idiot". I said you need to grow up,because the world doesn't care how passionate you feel about things,and the world does not care how much you protest about what you preceive as injustices.The world cares that you become a contributing member of society.
3/2/2013 12:28:24 PM
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