The Labrador Institute is transitioning to a full academic campus.
The establishment of the Labrador Campus of Memorial University received Senate endorsement and approval of the Board of Regents at its December 2021 meeting.
“This is a significant milestone for Memorial’s presence in Labrador,” said President Vianne Timmons. “The establishment of the Labrador Campus is years in the making, and in perfect alignment with the vision articulated in Transforming Our Horizons, Memorial’s strategic plan; the Strategic Framework for Indigenization; the Research Involving Indigenous Groups policy; the generational partnership with Nunavut Arctic College; and the developing strategic plan for equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. Importantly, it also aligns with national and international documents, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
With a more than 40-year history, the Labrador Institute has established itself as a leading centre of research, education, policy and community engagement by and for the North, and is one of only a few university-led, post-secondary units in Northern Canada.
“Memorial University holds a special place in the history, culture, and economic development of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Premier Andrew Furey. “Memorial’s strengths are recognized nationally and internationally. The establishment of the Labrador Campus, informed by the local expertise and knowledge of the region, will benefit people in Labrador and the institution as a whole.”
The process to transition the Labrador Institute to the Labrador Campus of Memorial University began in 2018, with the establishment of the Labrador @40 Task Force, which included members from the Innu Nation, the Nunatsiavut Government, the NunatuKavut Community Council and academic administrators, faculty, staff and students from Memorial University.
“This is an historic and transformative decision and is a reflection and recognition of years of partnership, consultations and community advocacy to access place-based, northern-focused and Indigenous-led university education in Labrador, by Labrador,” said Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, founding and interim dean of the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies. “Working together with members of the Nunatsiavut Government, Innu Nation and NunatuKavut Community Council, and diverse rightsholders, communities and the university, the Labrador Campus will grow educational programming in Labrador that is flexible, adaptable, stackable and customizable, and meets identified needs and priorities of Labrador and the North.”
After years of ongoing and extensive consultations, partnerships and work, and multiple historic votes from Memorial University’s Senate and Board of Regents, the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies was created in July 2020 as the first academic unit in Labrador.
The creation of the Labrador Campus is the final stage of the multi-year transition to better serving Labrador and the North.
“Establishing a Labrador Campus of Memorial University creates an important pathway for our young people to continue their education through post-secondary programs close to home where they have community and family support,” said Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Riche. “As Innu Nation works to arrive at self-government, Memorial’s Labrador Campus will help ensure that our youth have better access to educational opportunities, which in turn will benefit our communities. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Labrador Campus and Memorial University in working towards programming that is relevant and accessible for Innu.”
New stand-alone space has been secured in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, with a planned move-in date of spring 2022. The new leased space will enable the Labrador Campus to grow and establish programs, academic and student supports and research infrastructure, and further connect with the community.
“Geography has always been a barrier for many beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement,” said Johannes Lampe, president of Nunatsiavut. “No matter how enticing a program is, or how much support there is, sometimes students just cannot physically leave home. The Nunatsiavut Government has long advocated for Memorial University to have a stronger, more direct and established presence in Labrador. Having a campus in Happy Valley-Goose Bay will provide more opportunities for Labrador Inuit to further their education. We look forward to working with Memorial as the campus and programming is developed.”
‘Fundamental to reconciliation’
Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council, is congratulating Memorial University and the Labrador Institute on the new campus in Labrador.
“Education and learning is fundamental to reconciliation and this provides an opportunity to grow infrastructure, education programming and research facilities while working to identify the ways in which research and education can benefit communities across Labrador and in NunatuKavut,” said Mr. Russell. “This marks a significant achievement and builds upon the very important work that has been done in Labrador for 40 years. And now this new campus will support the next generation of learners and leaders. It is also exciting and visionary that the role of Indigenous Peoples is so clearly and strongly set out both in structure and governance. It is an approach that honours and respects the history and story of NunatuKavut Inuit. The NunatuKavut Community Council looks forward to our continuing work with Memorial and the Labrador Institute and other Indigenous groups to facilitate opportunities for education that meet the needs and priorities of our peoples. This truly is an important step toward reconciliation.”
The first students will begin at the Labrador Campus in fall 2022, as multiple undergraduate and graduate opportunities become available. Further details on the campus and programming will be shared as they become available.
Voices of support
The establishment of a Labrador campus of Memorial University is a collaborative effort supported and applauded by many who have long seen opportunities for the advancement of the innovative work happening across Labrador.
The following messages of support reflect the collective enthusiasm for this significant step for Labrador and Memorial University.
“As a Nunatsiavummiuk and as vice-president (Indigenous) at Memorial University, I am absolutely thrilled about the opening of a campus in Labrador. Not only will it mean greater access to post-secondary education for Labradorians, it will bring programming that is relevant, responsive and engaged. Memorial University has a special obligation to all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and having a campus in Labrador will also strengthen relationships with Indigenous Peoples in Labrador. It will also position the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies to be a true leader for Indigenization. The impact of all of these pieces will be huge. When we talk about reconciliation, this is what that looks like.”
– Catharyn Andersen
Vice-president (Indigenous), Memorial University
“As a community, the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is excited about the future opportunities that having a university campus within our community will bring.”
– George Andrews
Mayor, Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay
“It is wonderful to see that Labradorians now have a greater opportunity to study our culture, our region, and our future here in Labrador. This campus offers the foundation for a unique opportunity to put Labrador at the forefront of Arctic and Subarctic studies around the world. I look forward to the advancements and discoveries that will be found at our Labrador Campus.”
– Jordan Brown
Member of the House of Assembly, Labrador West
“This transformation positions the Labrador Campus as a leading centre of education and research in the North. Supporting access to university programming offers greater opportunities for Labradorians closer to home. It’s gratifying to see the engagement with Indigenous Governments and Organizations and that Labrador’s culture and expertise will be reflected in post-secondary course offerings. Congratulations to all who have contributed to this ground-breaking development.”
– Lisa Dempster
Minister for Labrador Affairs and Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation
“I applaud the bold steps taken by Memorial University and the Labrador Institute to create the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies and now a Labrador university campus. Education is critical in advancing our people, preserving our culture and in protecting our environment. Unfortunately, our Innu and Inuit have been underserved and underrepresented at the post-secondary level. That is why I believe the creation of the Labrador Campus serves a far greater purpose then just bringing education to our doorstep. It also brings the great promise of education equity to Labrador. These are bold steps with the promise of great reward.”
– Lela Evans
Member of the House of Assembly, Torngat Mountains
“Education is the key to expanding opportunities for Labradorians, and ensuring they can achieve their social, environmental, and economic aspirations and goals. This new Labrador Campus of Memorial University is allowing unprecedented access for northerners and for Indigenous populations who often are unable to achieve the educational goals they desire. The Labrador Campus will allow for unique academic programs and research that explores, reflects and advances Indigenous governance and northern regions through diverse program offerings and expanded infrastructure. The insight and commitment of Memorial University in establishing this campus will bring tremendous benefits to all of Newfoundland and Labrador and the northern regions of Canada. I am excited to witness the transformations as we implement this new chapter in Labrador’s education history.”
– Yvonne Jones
Parliamentary secretary to the minister of Natural Resources and to the minister of Northern Affairs
Member of Parliament for Labrador
“I have seen first-hand the dedication and commitment that Memorial has put into the establishment of the Labrador Campus, and know that the university is pleased to have reached this milestone. I look forward to seeing the new opportunities that will come to this region in years to come.”
– Tom Osborne
Minister for Education
“Establishing the Labrador Campus is a demonstration of Memorial’s commitment to providing access to high-quality educational opportunities in Labrador and to working with the Indigenous governments and communities throughout the region to support educational aspirations. I look forward to working with the team at the Labrador Campus to grow diverse educational course offerings in Labrador and enhance access to education for Labradorians and people across the North.”
– Dr. Florentine Strzelczyk
Provost and vice-president (academic), Memorial University
“The establishment of the Labrador Campus of Memorial University is a remarkable accomplishment. Indigenous and other community leaders have long been lobbying for a ‘made-in-Labrador’ means of developing professional capacity amongst those who call this place home. I would like to acknowledge all who have supported the Labrador Institute on this journey, and contributed towards this historic announcement.”