Supreme Court of Canada dismisses application for leave to appeal in academic freedom case



    REGINA, May 14 /CNW/ - The leadership of the First Nations University of
Canada (FNUniv) is pleased with today's decision by the Supreme Court of
Canada to dismiss the University of Regina Faculty Association appeal of a
recent decision pertaining to a years-long case involving charges of violating
a faculty member's academic freedom.
    This means the decision by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal from last
December still stands, which ruled that the University had not violated
academic freedom and that the University did not violate the rights of Dr.
Blair Stonechild. That decision ruled that a labour arbitration board's
decision was unreasonable in its conclusion that a senior figure in the
governance structure of the First Nations University of Canada failed to
promote and protect the academic freedom of a faculty member.
    The court challenge revolved around three key issues: 1) whether academic
freedom was jeopardized or potentially compromised by the decision of the
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal; 2) whether the correct standard of review was
applied on the judicial review of a labour arbitration board's decision and
did the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal properly apply the correct stand of
review in this case; and, 3) whether corporate governance principles were
applicable to the government body of the First Nations University of Canada.
Today, the application for leave to appeal from the judgment of the Court of
Appeal for Saskatchewan, dated December 16, 2008, was dismissed with costs.
    "This is not just a victory for our leadership, this is good news for all
of our stakeholders, including our students, staff and faculty," said Charles
Pratt, President of the First Nations University of Canada.
    "It's an understatement to say we are all relieved with the decision by
the country's highest court to deny the application for leave to appeal. We
have all felt the effects of this ongoing legal challenge for the past four
years amid long-standing accusations of political interference and questions
of academic freedom, along with related challenges with the Association of
University and Colleges of Canada, the Canadian Association University
Teachers, and our funding partners.
    "We have faced many challenges throughout the past several years over
these allegations, but now that this decision has been made by the highest
court in Canada, I am confident and pleased that we can put this issue behind
us and instead focus on the work that needs to be done for the benefit of our
students, staff, and faculty, and wider communities and stakeholder groups."

    The mission of the First Nations University of Canada is to enhance the
quality of life, and to preserve, protect, and interpret the history,
language, culture, and artistic heritage of First Nations.





For further information:

For further information: Tina Pelletier, Office of Communications,
Direct: (306) 790-5950 ext. 2600, Cellular: (306) 530-9228,
tpelletier@firstnationsuniversity.ca

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FIRST NATIONS UNIVERSITY OF CANADA

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