MNO leaders predict new northern law school will advance Métis people and communities

law1MNO President Lipinski participating in opening of new Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. (Left
to right) Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle, President Lipinski, Premier Kathleen Wynne,
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is one of the partners in Ontario’s first new Faculty of Law in 44 years that officially opened its doors September 4 at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University.  MNO President Gary Lipinski, MNO Secretary-Treasurer Tim Pile (who also serves on the Lakehead University Board of Governors) and Senator Bob McKay were among the dignitaries present that also included Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle and Member of the Provincial Parliament of Thunder Bay-Atikokan Bill Mauro.  The new law school was launched with a large ribbon cutting ceremony at Lakehead’s Port Arthur Collegiate Institute (PACI), home to the University’s newest Faculty, in front of an audience that included the school’s first cohort of 60 students. President Lipinski was among the guests who brought greetings during the ceremony.

The new law school will serve the communities in Northern Ontario and smaller centres throughout Canada and will focus on Aboriginal law and understanding Aboriginal issues, the needs of small practitioners and natural resources law.

law2(Left to right) Minister Gravelle, President Lipinski, Lakehead University President Brian Stevenson
and Member of the Provincial Parliament Bill Mauro (pictures courtesy of Lakehead University).

“The new law school is exciting news for Métis people and communities,” stated President Lipinski, “it will mean new opportunities for Métis and other Aboriginal young people that will break down some of the obstacles they face when pursuing postsecondary education.  It means Métis youth will have more chances to become lawyers and Métis lawyers will be able to serve their communities.”

The MNO’s partnership with the Lakehead University Faculty of Law is another example of the success of the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement and the subsequent Memorandum of Understanding between the MNO and the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities. “The MOU the MNO and Lakehead University signed in 2011,” explained President Lipinski, “was possible due to the Framework Agreement and laid the groundwork to the MNO’s involvement in the new Faculty of Law.”

In July 2011, Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) committed to support Lakehead University’s Faculty of Law. The MTCU fully funded the Faculty of Law with a $1.5 million investment for capital improvements made to the historic PACI building in Thunder Bay where the Faculty of Law is housed. “The Province of Ontario is making a good investment in this law school,” concluded President Lipinski, “one that will pay dividends long into the future by realizing enormous positive intergenerational effects.”

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