Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief disappointed in recent appointment of interim law dean

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (May 7, 2018)— Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee is disappointed with the appointment of interim law dean at Lakehead University, Justice George Patrick Smith.

“The appointment of George Smith as the interim dean is insensitive and adds insult to injury,” says Grand Council Chief Madahbee. “This thoughtless appointment of a dean that has incarcerated First Nations people for defending their land – their home – shows that he doesn’t understand what we as Anishinaabe, First Nations, and Indigenous people believe. His view and understanding of Indigenous history is not conducive for the university during a time where it is facing issues with systemic racism.”

Justice Smith is responsible for the sentencing of Chief Donny Morris and Deputy Chief Jack McKay of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation along with four councilors of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Council to prison in 2008 after protesting against mining activity on their traditional lands. This appointment comes weeks after former dean, Angelique EagleWoman, resigned citing issues of systemic racism.

In a statement released by Fort William First Nation earlier in April, there were recommendations provided for Lakehead University to consider and accept before moving forward with the appointment of a law dean to replace dean Angelique EagleWoman and to help address the issue of systemic racism.

“Our leaders acted in good faith, took the time to put together recommendations for the University to consider before taking action into the appointment of a new dean and they were disregarded,” says Grand Council Chief Madahbee. “It’s clear that they’re not listening or care.”

In a statement released by Lakehead University in response to the recommendations in April, it stated that they were “listening to, and reflecting on, what has been shared by our region’s Indigenous leadership. We are committed to creating the conditions whereby everyone at Lakehead University can flourish, and we look forward to ongoing dialogue and action”.

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