Students to continue sit-in to defend Indigenous law curriculum content

THUNDER BAY, ON, March 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Students will be continuing a sit-in this week to defend the quality of Indigenous content in Lakehead's new Faculty of Law. Students are calling on the university to reinstate a course from the Indigenous Learning Program that was included in the institution's original proposal for a law program.

"The law program at Lakehead was accredited specifically because of its unique Indigenous-focused content," said Emma Brightwell, President of the Lakehead University Students' Union. "The university must live up to its commitments to include this valuable and important Indigenous content."

At a meeting on February 15, the Lakehead University Senate replaced a full-credit Indigenous Learning course with a half-credit course to be taught by members of the Faculty of Law. The new course will look at the place of Indigenous peoples within Canadian law, instead of exploring the place of the law within Indigenous world views.

"A credible Indigenous-focused law curriculum has to be one that centres the perspectives of Indigenous world views, as the original Indigenous Learning course does," said Sebastien Murdoch-Gibson, one of the participants in the sit in. "We have every intention to stay here to defend the integrity of Indigenous content in the law program."

Students raised concerns about the change and have been participating in a sit-in in front of the office of President Brian Stevenson since February 25. During the course of the sit-in, students have held support rallies, traditional ceremonies and another support rally is scheduled for March 7.

"With a growing Indigenous population in Northern Ontario and across the province, there is a critical need for more Indigenous-focused programming in our universities and colleges," said Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Institutions have a responsibility to ensure that these programs truly centre Indigenous perspectives."

To find out more about the student sit-in, visit their Facebook group "Students for Native Canadian World Views." To read more about Indigenous education in Ontario, see the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario fact sheet.

SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Students

For further information:

Emma Brightwell, President, Lakehead University Students' Union: (807) 343-8550 or (519) 362-7479

Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario: (416) 925-3825 or (647) 339-4070


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