Nunavut law society hopes to revive law school
11 students graduated from 4-year program in 2005
The Akitsiraq Law Society in Iqaluit hopes to re-start a law program in the territory.
The society held its annual general meeting in Iqaluit Wednesday night.
Currently, it has a two-week law course with 20 students. The "Introduction to Legal Studies" class is the same as the first two weeks of any law school, but the society wants to see a full-fledged law school in the territory.
Helen Klengenberg has been a Justice of the Peace for 13 years and wants to be a judge, but she says going out of the territory for law school isn't really an option.
"When you go out of your own territory it's hard to keep in touch of what your legislators are doing. To have access to them. To understand the land claim agreement and how our conventional laws can fit into that framework," said Klengenberg.
Jeannie Arreak-Kullualik is enrolled in the Akitsiraq Legal Studies program.
"The government misunderstands the Inuit articles. I want to be able to negotiate with the government about these and see what I can do with this program to help the Inuit - that's the reason I joined this program," she said.
Request for funding rejected in 2010
In June 2005, 11 students graduated from the first four-year Akitsiraq law program. Nine of them were called to the bar.
There has not been another law school cohort since then.
Akitsiraq requested more than $5 million in 2010 for a second law program, but was denied by the Nunavut government.
Not everyone is happy with the results from the first law program, saying it was expensive and the many of the graduates aren't working as lawyers.
Rebecca Johnson, who is teaching the two-week class in Iqaluit, is part of the faculty of law at the University of Victoria. She said it’s possible to teach law in Nunavut.
"And should absolutely be done here to give it the kind of spin, the flavour, the feel it has to have if law adapts to the places in which it lives," said Johnson.
The Akitsiraq Law Society plans to rewrite a proposal and budget for Akitsiraq II and resubmit it to the government of Nunavut.