Last week, after Angelique EagleWoman resigned from her position as dean of Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Law School, citing systemic racism and indifference to Indigenous participation, the school appointed Justice Patrick Smith of the Ontario Superior Court to fill in as interim Dean.
Lakehead’s announcement was celebratory and appreciative of Ontario’s Chief Justice in releasing Justice Smith to fill this position. Donny Morris, former chief of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a community partner in the law school, however, have spoken out strongly against the appointment. Why?
Ten years ago Justice Smith sentenced Chief Morris, four band councillors and a community member from the KI First Nation to jail for contempt of court.
They had publicly stated they would not allow a mining company, Platinex, which had advised its investors it had the First Nation’s consent when it did not, and had bullied the community with a $10 billion lawsuit, onto their traditional territory.
The community explained they had to follow their own law, which required them to protect the land. This statement was found to be in contempt of a court order allowing the mining company onto the land.