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Northern sovereignty

Memorial establishes first academic unit based in Labrador

By David Sorensen

Memorial has established its first academic unit based in Labrador.

With Senate approval in May and Board of Regents approval in July, the School of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Studies is now Memorial’s newest academic unit.

“This is an exciting time for Memorial University and for Labrador,” said President Vianne Timmons. “Including Indigenous groups in the academic decision-making of the new school will allow Memorial to design programming that is Northern-led and Northern-focused. This is not only important for Labrador, but significantly strengthens Memorial University, too.”

Ashlee Cunsolo, director, Labrador Institute
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo
Photo: Submitted

“I am so proud and delighted that Senate and the Board took this essential and defining step in the history of the university,” said Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, the director of the Labrador Institute. “This is further evidence that Memorial’s special obligation to the people of the province includes the people of Labrador.

“The growth and expansion of Memorial University in Labrador, in partnership with the Innu Nation, the Nunatsiavut Government and the NunatuKavut Community Council, will become a core pillar of the growth and development already happening in Labrador, and an exemplar of university-community relationships in the country,” she added.

Indigenous decision-making

While the constitution looks like many other constitutions for an academic unit, there are some characteristics that reflect the role of Memorial in Labrador, says Dr. Cunsolo.

Most notably, Indigenous groups in Labrador will have voting seats on the academic council of the new school, bringing those groups directly into the academic decision-making.

With status as a school, the School of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Studies will be able to hire professors, cross-appoint professors from other units throughout Memorial and be eligible for Canada Research Chair positions.

“This will also allow us to start creating all the academic programming and curriculum needed for the overall campus development.” — Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo

The constitution development and approval is a key step in the establishment of a Labrador campus.

“This will also allow us to start creating all the academic programming and curriculum needed for the overall campus development,” said Dr. Cunsolo.

“The next stage is recruiting new faculty to create an academic cohort based in Labrador. This will allow us to immediately develop undergraduate and graduate programming, certificates and diplomas, to offer in Labrador and/or online and via distance, and to further support the educational aspirations of people in Labrador and the North.”

Dr. Cunsolo says this exercise has been a study in good will, relationships, collaboration and visioning, as support for the development of a Labrador campus has come from all corners of the university community, including unanimous endorsement by Senate, as well as from communities and rights holders throughout Labrador.


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