Three months after its first Indigenous dean of law resigned claiming systemic racism, Lakehead University has embarked on a consultation with faculty in an effort to find a replacement dean for the Bora Laskin School of Law by consulting with its academic community about who should be considered for the role.
Earlier this month, a communications bulletin was shared with the Lakehead University community as part of the first step in the consultation and search process, a communications spokesperson has told Legal Feeds.
The bulletin reads:
“We have embarked on the process of selecting a Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. The search will be comprehensive in scope with an integral component being an extensive process of consultation with internal and external communities.
In addition to consulting with our Lakehead University governance bodies, and faculty, staff, and students, we are also reaching out directly to external organizations, including the law associations and our local and regional Indigenous leadership organizations."
The school has also retained the services of executive search firm Laverne Smith & Associates Inc., which specializes in the public and not-for-profit sector, in particular health and education, to assist in gathering the information and conducting the search.
Input is being sought until Aug. 31.
Some of the questions in the survey include:
• What opportunities, issues and challenges will await the dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law?
• What qualities and experience should the dean possess?
• List the names and contact information for any informal nominations you wish to make. Suggestions may be internal to the university or from anywhere in the world.
The university's bulletin also states that formal nominations with letters may also be sent to Laverne Smith & Associates Inc. at LakeheadLaw@lavernesmith.com.
In April, former dean Angelique EagleWoman resigned after less than two years in the role. She said she felt she was a victim of racism.
Then, in early May, the school was criticized for its choice of interim dean — Ontario Superior Court of Justice George Patrick Smith — by the deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Derek Fox.
Smith had sentenced Chief Donny Morris and five members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Council to prison in 2008 during the community’s lengthy fight to protect their traditional territory from mining activity, according to a statement from Indigenous leaders.
When contacted today about whether the leaders have provided any further input on the search for a new dean, Fox said he has not been involved in any way since the interim dean was appointed.
“We just decided to stay away,” says Fox. “The grand chief’s instructions were to stay away so NAN hasn’t been involved ever since then.”
Fox says the university reached out to NAN after they had made their concerns about Smith known, but he says they declined to provide further feedback.