Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 15, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Nunavut to revive law school, Quassa says

Universities of Ottawa and Victoria both interested in partnering with Nunavut Arctic College

THOMAS ROHNER
Education Minister Paul Quassa says beneficiaries who want to be considered for the next Nunavut law training program should make their intentions clear to Nunavut Arctic College and ask about openings. (PHOTO BY LISA GREGOIRE)
Education Minister Paul Quassa says beneficiaries who want to be considered for the next Nunavut law training program should make their intentions clear to Nunavut Arctic College and ask about openings. (PHOTO BY LISA GREGOIRE)

A law school program aimed at training beneficiaries to become lawyers will start in September 2017, Education Minister Paul Quassa said March 14 in the legislature in Iqaluit.

Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik asked Quassa during question period for an update on the planned program, to be run through Nunavut Arctic College.

“There’s a [Request for Proposal] now being reviewed as to who will be providing support for this program. We expect this fiscal year of 2016 to make a decision,” Quassa said.

Two institutions responded to the RFP, Quassa said: the universities of Victoria and Ottawa.

The University of Victoria helped set up and run the Akitsiraq Law School — a short-lived legal training effort that produced 11 graduates in 2005 after 18 students enrolled in 2001.

The Akitisiraq Law Society partnered with Ottawa University in 2010 to provide legal training to a second batch of beneficiaries, slated to begin September 2011.

But the Government of Nunavut rejected the society’s request for $3.57 million at that time.

Finance Minister Keith Peterson said in 2010, “in a time of limited resources, our focus is on improving our school system from kindergarten to Grade 12.”

The revived program will be a partnership between the GN and Nunavut Arctic College, Quassa said March 14, with the Nunavut Law Society acting as an advocate for the program.

The law society will help the college select up to 25 students to begin the four-year program in September 2017.

An evaluation committee — made up of representatives from Nunavut Arctic College, the law society and the GN departments of justice and community and government services — will oversee the program, Quassa said.

Okalik asked Quassa March 14 when interested people can apply to Nunavut Arctic College.

“Interested people can approach [Nunavut Arctic College] now to ask them about openings for the program,” Quassa replied.

The Akitsiraq program was hailed as “an example of what should happen in Nunavut,” and as a template of how to train other much-needed professionals in the territory.

But with only one graduating class, the program did little to provide Nunavut with practicing Inuit lawyers.  Many of the grads went on instead to jobs in government, advocacy and the private sector.

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