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Akitsiraq Law school holds open house

Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 12, 2010

IQALUIT - For more than five years, Laisa Kilabuk has been working with the GN's Department of Justice.

NNSL photo/graphic

Laisa Kilabuk and Sarah Armstrong listen to a mini lecture about criminal law given by a law professor from the University of Ottawa at Akitsiraq Law School Society's Law Day in Iqaluit on March 27. - Emily Ridlington/NNSL photo

While she said she enjoys her job, Kilabuk said she wants to advance her career and wants to further her education and study law. That is why she went to Akitsiraq Law School Society's Law Day in Iqaluit on March 27.

"I am interested in learning more about the jobs available in the field," said Kilabuk.

Kilabuk and other interested individuals went to learn more about the opportunities available to them through the Akitsiraq Law School (ALS) program which allows Inuit in the territory to study law closer to home.

"It gives students a taste of law school, gives them an idea of what is involved in law school, the ideas that are talked about in law school, how to get into law school and the opportunities in Nunavut," said Anne Crawford, northern director for Akitsiraq II Law Program.

Akitsiraq is a four-year program offered through the University of Ottawa and Nunavut Arctic College. The majority of the classes are held in Nunavut.

Crawford said she thinks a lot of Nunavummiut are interested in law school, but might not be sure how it works, are afraid of it, or unsure of how they can incorporate their interests into the study of law.

Professors from the University of Ottawa and the University of Victoria were present to answer questions. In the afternoon, attendees broke up into groups and had the option of attending a civil law or criminal law lecture. In the criminal law lecture, a professor from the University of Ottawa gave an introduction of what exactly criminal law is, how it is applied in Canada and a case study was reviewed like in a first year law class. Kilabuk attended the criminal law lecture as this is the area she said she is interested in studying.

There are 25 spots in the program. Crawford said approximately 75 people have expressed interest so far. Application forms have yet to go out, pushing the anticipated start date for the program back from May 1 until further notice.

"We are waiting for word from the GN for their commitment on our core funding and then we will be able to go ahead and initiate the enrolment process," she said.

At the open house, Qikiqtani Inuit Association president Okalik Eegeesiak spoke about the importance of developing Inuit professionals. She emphasized the importance of Akitsiraq's work by providing education and training for individuals, at home, in their own territory.

"We need Inuit and Northerners who are sensitive to the system and people working in the field who understand the culture," she said.

This is the second time the law program is being offered. Eleven students graduated in 2005 from the first round of the program. They are all working in the field of law. Eegeesiak said it is time to build on these students' successes. Similar day-long information sessions were also held in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet. A session is scheduled to take place in Ottawa on April 15.

When the applications for the program become available, Kilabuk said she will apply.

"I want to help my people and show them it can be done," she said.

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