The Akitsiraq Law School – Providing Legal Reference in Nunavut

By Serena Ableson

– Nunavut means “our land”
– 1/5 of Canada and 2/3 of coast line.
– Young and fast growing population.
– cost of living is extremely high. Basic goods are 6 times higher than in the south. Subway sandwich is 20 bucks.
– transportation and housing also expensive.
– Largest land claims settlement. Self government. So more need for lawyers in government. Only 35 percent of gov workers are locals. More pronounced in professional positions.
– The government is promoting professional programs to help address this problem.
– Only Inuit lawyer in the territory is the Premier.

– There were previous initiatives to do legal training in the south. Not successful, as the personal cost to the students was high.
– plan to bring legal education to the territory, and include Elders in the program.
– 14 students started the program. Most were woman.
– 4 year program instead of 3 so that they could do extra specialized courses. All instruction done face to face.
– Students have to complete work terms for their sponsors.
– Full time instructor and tutor on site.

– Program started in fall 2001, and librarian was hired in Jan 2002.
– Used public guidelines for distance librarianship.
– Tried to provide personalized student centred service.
– Created a “red book” as a PR toll with stakeholders, to raise people’s awareness of the libraries role in the program.

– challenges with students not comfortable technology.
– problems with bandwidth and network reliability.
– used low tech reference – phone.
– uneven access to tech in the students’ homes.
– She ended up mediating the UVic bureaucracy for the students.
– what didn’t work? Office hours.
– All online resources (which are vast), but they still needed monographs. Purchased some books, but borrowed a lot from court house libraries, and the college’s library.
– ILL was very important.

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