Thunder Bay·Audio

Called to the bar: First graduates from Ontario's newest law school step forward

The charter class of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay - the first new law school in over 40 years in Ontario - will be called to the bar Friday in a ceremony conducted by the Law Society of Upper Canada in Toronto.

"They did it with grace and they did it with flexibility and it made them better lawyers", says dean

Angelique EagleWoman, the dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., says she is very proud to be part of history, when the school's charter class of graduates is called to the bar. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The charter class of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay - the first new law school in over 40 years in Ontario - will be called to the bar Friday in a ceremony conducted by the Law Society of Upper Canada in Toronto.

"They're part of this new day in Canada where we're seeing a real concern about righting historic wrongs- Angelique EagleWoman

The historic moment will be noted by the fact the Lakehead graduates will be called first, explained Angelique EagleWoman, the dean of the school.

"Everything they've done has been as trailblazers for the following classes, and they did it with grace and they did it with flexibility and it made them better lawyers, I believe, " said EagleWoman, who expects that determined spirit will follow them into practice.

"They're part of this new day in Canada where we're seeing a real concern about righting historic wrongs and getting back to those core principles of justice in the legal profession."

The law school in Thunder Bay has three core mandates - Aboriginal and Indigenous law, natural resources law, and small town practice - and was created with an eye to training and retaining lawyers in northern Ontario.

"That is the whole goal of this law school, to make sure that remote northern communities, northern towns have adequate access to justice and these are the first set that's making that possible," said EagleWoman, noting that more than half of the 58 graduates from the charter class have committed to working in the region.

About 300 people attended the opening of Lakehead University's law school in Thunder Bay in September 2013. (Joshua Lynn/CBC)

The law school also hopes to change the face of the legal profession in Ontario and "of course with that mandate of Indigenous law, it is like a beacon to say 'if you're interested, come join us'," she said. 

Four of the graduates identify as Indigenous "and others with heritage, and in terms of diversity that is something we care deeply about, and making sure that our law school is an example of that," EagleWoman said.  

"I believe our graduates are going out into the world, thinking about 'how do we increase justice, how do we make things better' and I think that will be a theme that you see coming out of our law school with our graduates and I think it it will be uplifting for the legal profession."

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