Memorial’s Labrador Institute (LI) took a major step towards becoming officially recognized as the university’s Labrador campus when Senate voted on Tuesday to make it an academic unit.
This transition is subject to the Labrador Institute creating a constitution for approval by Senate and Memorial’s Board of Regents, a requirement for all academic units.
There is no budget increase associated with this transition.
LI is currently an administrative unit of the university, supporting Memorial’s teaching, research and public engagement activities in Labrador.
“Memorial University is uniquely situated in the country to lead the way on Northern sovereignty in research and education,”
Senate also approved a motion of support for the Labrador Institute’s proposal to become an academic campus of Memorial University, pending the endorsement of a report of the Labrador Campus Development Working Group which is developing plans for infrastructure; programs and curriculum; governance structures; research infrastructure; human resources and finances; an operating budget; and a capital campaign. Memorial’s Board of Regents must also approve this proposal and plans.
Memorial President Gary Kachanoski said the move towards an enhanced academic role for the Labrador Institute is connected to broader calls for Northern sovereignty over research and education across the country, and responds to Memorial’s responsibilities and obligations outlined in the report of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“This transition demonstrates our obligation to provide university education to the people of Labrador and the rest of the province, and also shows our commitment to moving forward Memorial’s partnership with the Inuit and Innu of Labrador, and other key partners in the region and across the North,” said President Kachanoski.
“This is a significant step forward for Memorial’s presence in Labrador,” said Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, director of the LI. “While there are more steps before the Labrador Institute reaches the goal of becoming an academic campus, the endorsement of Memorial’s highest academic governing body is an exciting milestone.”
“The transition of the Labrador Institute into an academic unit directly aligns with important initiatives at Memorial University, including the Indigenization Strategy, the new partnership with Nunavut Arctic College, a movement for cluster hiring of Indigenous faculty, and renewed emphasis on enhancing and strengthening relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis throughout the province,” she said.
The primary outcome of the change is that LI will now come to Senate for discussions and approvals around academic programming such as course and program development, and can begin the process of developing academic programs and educational opportunities in Labrador.
The Labrador Institute will continue to work with Innu and Inuit government representatives and community groups, other academic units at Memorial, and other key partners on course and research program development, and expanded infrastructure.
The plan to transition the Labrador Institute was recommended by the Labrador Institute Strategic Task Force, which included members from Nunatsiavut, NunatuKavut, the Innu Nation, and faculty, staff, and administrative leaders from throughout Memorial University, and was approved in principle by President Kachanoski and the Vice-Presidents Council.
Dr. Cunsolo said a Labrador campus is not only important for Labrador, but it will make Memorial University stronger, more diverse, and more inclusive.
“Through the growth and development of the Labrador Institute, Memorial University is uniquely situated in the country to lead the way on Northern sovereignty in research and education,” she added.
“This is truly a historic moment for Memorial University, and for Labrador,” said Dr. Cunsolo. “I look forward to continuing to work with members of the Nunatsiavut Government, NunatuKavut Community Council, and the Innu Nation, as well as communities and key stakeholders throughout Labrador and across the North, to design a curriculum and a campus that is Northern-led, Northern-focused, and incorporates multiple ways of knowing and being.”