Anyone who has lived in Northwestern Ontario will understand the uniqueness of the environment and demography here in comparison to the rest of the province, let alone the country. Growing up in Kenora, I have been exposed to many of the diverse issues faced by the population here and attending a law school that emphasized a focus on many of these issues seemed to make the most sense.
Attending a law school that catered to the unique characteristics and needs of Northwestern Ontario was important to me. Growing up in this region, it was always evident that there was an array of distinct issues; however, it became even clearer during my time away from Northern Ontario. It was then that I realized just how unique the area was in terms of its issues, population and environment – and this is what drove me to choose the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law for my legal education.
This law school has three specific mandates: Aboriginal and Indigenous law, Natural Resource and Environmental law and Small Practice. It is a law school that is committed to not only bringing more lawyers to the North but also to inspiring them to lead the way in providing the best access to justice possible to these rural and remote communities. As a law student from Northwestern Ontario, I could not be happier with this unique, specific yet diverse legal education.
The curriculum is catered to Northwestern Ontario, by not only offering a mandatory full year Aboriginal Law course but also by incorporating Anishinaabe and Métis legal teachings – through both a first year mandatory course, and a requirement in which students have the opportunity to participate in Indigenous events and traditions. This focus is one that is unique to this law school, and being given the opportunity to learn not only how the current legal system is affecting the Indigenous population, but to also learn Indigenous legal teachings themselves.
Finally, the unique curriculum effectively prepares students for practice in small, rural communities by integrating practical assignments into each course and by incorporating a four-month practice placement at the end of the degree; allowing us students the opportunity to understand the distinct challenges and realities of small town practice in Northern Ontario, from the earliest point possible.
I could not be happier with my decision to pursue my law degree in Northern Ontario, it is a unique law school, that is catered to the environment and the demographic of the North and it provides an exclusive perspective that will shape how I advocate in this area for years to come.