THUNDER BAY – The process of creating the first new law school in Ontario in the past forty-two years is well under way. Brian Stevenson, President of Lakehead University, announced the creation of the Chancellor’s Task Force for the proposed Lakehead University Faculty of Law. The Task Force was created following an historic vote by Lakehead University Senate on May 13, at which both the proposed curriculum and the establishment of a Faculty of Law were approved. The Senate vote came on the heels of the Law Society of Upper Canada approval of the proposed curriculum in April.
The Chancellor’s Task Force will be headed by Arthur V. Mauro, Chancellor of Lakehead University, and prominent lawyer and businessman. The Task Force will focus its efforts on securing the provincial funding necessary to support the operation of the Lakehead University Faculty of Law. The Task Force comprises prominent members of the legal and business communities from the region as well as Simcoe County, and includes: Arthur Mauro, Chair, Brian Stevenson, Vice-Chair, and members Catherine Beamish, Kristen Bucci, Richard Buset, Cam Clark, Sylvio Di Grigorio, Karen Drake, Maria Dufresne, Lee Gould, The Honourable Doug Lewis, Ross Murray, Rod Shewchuck, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose.
The Chancellor’s Task Force will focus its efforts on advocating for funding support from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to establish the Faculty of Law. Other responsibilities of the Task Force are assessing the proposed next steps including reviewing the proposed timelines, assisting in developing a strategic plan for fundraising, and enhancing community outreach. Arthur Mauro emphasizes, “The Chancellor’s Task Force is a fitting mechanism to continue to work toward offering a Faculty of Law that provides educational focus on legal issues related to the resource-based Northern Ontario economy. Lakehead University’s Faculty of Law will help redress declining participation in sole- and small- law firm practice, provide access in Northern Ontario to a Canadian law school, and emphasize working with Aboriginal peoples to address the legal needs of Aboriginal communities in the North.”
Since 2005, the University has been preparing, researching, and developing plans to accommodate a yearly cohort of 55 students at the former Port Arthur Collegiate Institute (PACI), a heritage site acquired by the University in 2008 after the closure of the 100-year-old high school.
Dr. Stevenson stressed that, “The Lakehead Faculty of Law is good for the North, good for Ontario, and good for the growing Aboriginal population in Northwestern Ontario. The Chancellor’s Task Force is just the vehicle we need to move this dream forward. The Chancellor’s Task Force is made up of advocates of the Faculty of Law who bring a wealth of skills, enthusiasm, and Northern Ontario expertise to this project.”
“I am honoured to represent Nishnawbe Aski Nation on the Chancellor’s Task Force and I am pleased to support the development of a Faculty of Law in Northern Ontario as an important investment in the future of NAN youth and communities,” said Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose, who holds the education portfolio at NAN. “This will provide more opportunities for First Nation members to pursue challenging and rewarding careers in law and will help empower our people with the skills and resources to make their communities more self-sufficient and self-reliant through business, economic, and resource development.”
Lakehead University Chancellor Mauro summed up, “I am greatly honoured to be tasked with leading the crucial next steps to secure Lakehead’s Faculty of Law. Most critical of these steps is, of course, advocating for provincial funding support. I speak for the members of the Task Force as well as for the many individuals, groups, and organizations at Lakehead and in Northern Ontario and Simcoe County, who have been involved in this initiative, and who are expecting the realization of a long-held dream for Northern Ontario. Task Force members will be extending their advocacy to the broader communities, assisting with strategic planning, enhancing community outreach, and advancing and reviewing proposed timelines and goals. I thank the Task Force members in advance for all the hard work ahead of them.”