THUNDER BAY – Lakehead University officials have signed a protocol agreement with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Union of Ontario Indians, Grand Council Treaty #3, and Métis Nation of Ontario to establish a strong, meaningful and respectful working relationship regarding the Faculty of Law. The agreement brings together these Aboriginal leaders who will meet on a semi-annual basis to discuss issues relating to Aboriginal perspectives of the law.
“I look forward to working with First Nation and the Métis Nation organizations in furthering the Faculty of Law’s mandate of focusing on Aboriginal law and understanding of Aboriginal issues, the needs of small practitioners, and natural resources law,” said Faculty of Law Founding Dean Lee Stuesser.
“This protocol agreement establishes a much-needed process for ongoing engagement with the Aboriginal community so priorities from our perspective are identified and understood,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic.
“It is essential that the Faculty of Law remain engaged with First Nation and Métis political organizations to ensure that our perspectives on historical and emerging issues are reflected through the curriculum,” Deputy Grand Chief Kakegamic added.
“Lakehead University, with the new Law School and agreements with First Nations, has taken a positive step in creating a strong environment for our young men and women to be positive role models in the world of education,” said Union of Ontario Indians Regional Grand Chief Peter Collins.
“Treaty #3 is known for the treaty promise of a shared learning through an education system that provides opportunities for all Anishinaabe to reach their goals,” said Grand Chief Warren White of Grand Council Treaty #3.
“The commitment to an ongoing relationship and a forum where Anishinaabe input into the study of Law through this Protocol agreement is of great value and will benefit those educated in the program and the communities and individuals they will one day work for,” Grand Chief White said.
“As an Aboriginal government in Ontario, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is excited to partner with Lakehead University and other Aboriginal governments through this protocol agreement,” said MNO President Gary Lipinski.
“Métis participation in the Faculty of Law at Lakehead will help address obstacles Aboriginal people face when pursuing postsecondary education, permit a focus on Métis law, attract more Métis to the legal profession and train lawyers who understand the needs of Aboriginal people and communities,” President Lipinski added.
Lakehead President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson said this agreement is important because the Faculty of Law owes its existence to the commitment of communities in Northwestern Ontario.
“Nishnawbe Aski Nation was one of the groups that approached Lakehead University to create the Faculty of Law,” Dr. Stevenson said. “We value our partnerships and look forward to working with all of these groups to make the Faculty of Law the best it can be for this community and the region.”