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Date: January 25, 2005

Future Akitsiraq Law Grads Get First Look at Campus

After nearly four years of classes in Iqaluit, Nunavut, towards a UVic law degree, the inaugural class of the Akitsiraq law program is finally getting a first look at their Victoria campus. Almost all of the Inuit students are visiting UVic this week, meeting their “southern” classmates and taking advantage of the Priestly Law Library to conduct research. Half of the class will remain on campus for the remainder of the term.

The law program is the first of its kind in Canada. Through it, Inuit students—the future lawyers who will guide the development of their young territory—earn a UVic law degree in Nunavut’s capital city of Iqaluit. Law professors from across the country have travelled to Iqaluit to teach in the program which is a partnership between UVic, the Akitsiraq Law School Society and Nunavut Arctic College.

One of the students, Madeleine Redfern, has already distinguished herself by being chosen to clerk with newly appointed Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Charron following graduation in June. Many of her fellow students, some of them parents, are mid-career learners with varied life experiences:

Lilian Aglukark worked for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and other Inuit organizations. She comes from a prominent Inuit family; her father was the chief representative for the Inuit during negotiations to create the new territory and her sister is singer Susan Aglukark.

Siobhan Arnatsiaq-Murphy worked for the Nunavut Department of Justice as a policy analyst and is an accomplished drum dancer.

Henry Coman spent eight years as an RCMP officer in the North.

Susan Enuaraq was a former assistant director of community justice for the Nunavut Department of Justice.

Sandra Inutiq was a policy analyst in the evaluation and statistics division of the government of Nunavut.

Connie Merkosak was a court worker in the Nunavut justice system.

Sandra Omik was selected as a 2002 leader of tomorrow by Maclean’s magazine and was formerly the chief commissioner of the Nunavut law review commission.

Aaju* Peter is an accomplished clothing designer and a very skilled interpreter and translator who speaks several languages. (*pronounced Eye-U)

Madeleine Redfern is the former executive-director of Nunavut Tourism and, following graduation, will assume a clerkship with a Supreme Court Justice, one of the first Inuit to receive such an appointment.

Naomi Wilman was a youth worker who developed an Inuit Cultural Program for incarcerated youth.

Qajaq Robinson** worked as a youth officer for young offenders. She is the head coach of the Nunavut junior girls basketball team. (**did not travel to Victoria) Support for the students’ visit to UVic was provided by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation.
Media contacts:
Members of the media wishing to interview any of the students can arrange to do so by contacting Patty Pitts, UVic Communications, at (250) 721-7656 or ppitts@uvic.ca or by contacting Kim Hart-Wensley, southern co-ordinator for the Aquisiraq Law Program at (250) 721 8190 or kwensley@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

(image: fern)