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Keeping up The Conversation

It’s a simple, but powerful, formula. Take one part leading academic research, add a dash of journalistic flair, and mix in a robust digital presence. It is this winning recipe that has earned The Conversation, an academic journalism website, the participation of thousands of researchers worldwide, and captured the attention of millions of citizens interested in news with a healthy dose of academic rigour.

The Conversation
Queen's is a founding member of the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation and, since its launch earlier this year, 33 articles by Queen's experts have been published.   

After a successful soft launch this summer, the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation is running at full steam, having published hundreds of researchers’ articles, including a number from Queen’s. The university is a founding member of the national news platform.

“Our participation in The Conversation relays the importance and impact of disseminating and promoting the leading-edge research and scholarship happening at Queen’s University,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement and is already bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile.”

Over the course of the summer, over two dozen Queen’s academics contributed to The Conversation, sparking dialogue about the business of marijuana, how to improve the skills of tomorrow’s doctors, , recruiting more women to join the military, how to prevent irregular heartbeats, the meaning of The Tragically Hip’s lyrics, and more. These faculty and graduate students suggested topics, wrote columns, and submitted them to The Conversation. From there, professional journalists helped edit the articles to ensure consistency and clarity.

The Conversation’s unique model puts the researchers in the driver’s seat when sharing their expertise,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “It is increasingly important that we convey the impact of our research and ideas beyond the academy, and we believe tools such as The Conversation are filling that gap in a powerful way.”

THE STATS

The 33 articles published to date by Queen’s experts have garnered a combined 167,000 reads and 166 comments on The Conversation’s website. One of the most popular, and possibly most controversial, pieces was an article by David Maslove, Clinician Scientist with the Department of Medicine and Critical Care Program, about the need to regulate journalism in the same way his profession is regulated.

“Working with The Conversation’s editorial team was great, with turnaround times between drafts that were much faster than what I’m used to in traditional academic publishing,” says Dr. Maslove. “It was really gratifying to see the piece we created reach a wider audience and stimulate debate.”

Another notable Queen’s submission included Sarita Srivastava’s (Sociology) “I wanna be white!’ Can we change race? – a piece analyzing a recent controversy on transracialism. Dr. Srivastava’s piece led to an invitation for her to speak during a symposium on the matter held at the University of Alberta.

Sarita Srivastava
Sarita Srivastava

“Writing for The Conversation has been a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider audience and to comment on current events as they are happening,” says Dr. Srivastava. “Their editor was extremely skilled in working with me to write in a more journalistic style, while maintaining scholarly content. Within days of my article’s publication, I was invited to speak at an upcoming symposium on the same topic.”

Once the articles are posted to The Conversation’s website, they are shared with a large network of Canadian and international media organizations through a “Republish” feature and posting via The Canadian Press Wire service. The work of Queen’s academics has gone on to be featured in major North American newspapers such as The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News and The National Post, magazines like Scientific American, and national dailies as far away as Australia, where The Conversation was originally founded.

“In our first three months of publication, content from The Conversation Canada has been viewed almost two million times. Combining academic expertise with journalistic storytelling means we are reaching a wide audience across Canada and around the world at a time when the public is thirsting for reliable, fact-based information,” says Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Conversation Canada. “We're very pleased that Queen's has been with us from the very beginning, including a Day One story, as well as important articles on the country's health care system and the beauty of song lyrics, to name just a few.”

The Conversation is regularly seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

Investing in research

QROF supports cancer research 
Last year, 20 Queen’s faculty members received QROF grants, including Parvin Mousavi (School of Computing) whose project is advancing multi-parametric imaging for augmenting the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. A recipient of the International Fund, Dr. Mousavi is working within the Advanced Multimodal Image-guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School.
According to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies, 262,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually and these numbers are expected to double by 2025 when the baby boomer generation reaches the age of peak prevalence. Dr. Mousavi’s research will contribute to better diagnoses and risk stratification of prostate cancer, and help decrease its mortality and morbidity.

Letters of intent are being requested for two funding competitions open to researchers and scholars at Queen’s University – the 2017-2018 Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant (SIG) competitions.

The QROF provides researchers and scholars financial support to accelerate their programs and research goals, and offers opportunities to leverage external funding to build on areas of institutional research strength. Through a federal government block grant provided to Queen’s by SSHRC, the recently-redesigned SIG competition supports social sciences and humanities researchers with funding for research project development, pilot study work, or to attend or run knowledge-mobilization activities like workshops, seminars or scholarly conferences.

“Championing research and scholarly excellence is a cornerstone of our mission at Queen’s University,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The QROF competition allows us to make our largest internal investment in research, scholarship and innovation by supporting researchers striving to take their work to the next level. With SSHRC's recent redesign of the allotment of funding from the SIG, we are poised to reinvigorate research in the social sciences and humanities, further strengthening scholarship in the SSHRC disciplines."

The QROF competition consists of four funds:

  • The Research Leaders’ Fund – for strategic institutional commitments to aspirational research in support of the university’s research strengths and priorities
  • The International Fund – to assist in augmenting the university’s international reputation through increased global engagement
  • The Arts Fund – designed to support artists and their contributions to the scholarly community and to advancing Queen’s University
  • The Post-Doctoral Fund – to both attract outstanding post-doctoral fellows to Queen’s and to support their contributions to research and to the university

The SIG competition provides funding through two granting programs:

  • SSHRC Explore Grants – support social sciences and humanities researchers at any career stage with funds to allow for small-scale research project development or pilot work, or to allow for participation of students in research projects
  • SSHRC Exchange Grants – support the organization of small-scale knowledge mobilization activities in order to encourage collaboration and dissemination of research results both within and beyond the academic community, as well as allow researchers to attend or present research at scholarly conferences and other venues to advance their careers and promote the exchange of ideas

The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) has issued calls for letters of intent, and successful candidates will be invited to submit a full application. Information on each of the funds and the application processes can be found on the on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research). For more information, email ferrism@queensu.ca.

Faculty of Law marks six decades of leadership

The year 1957 marked a time of great change and growth for Queen’s University. The university was expanding under the leadership of Principal William Mackintosh, with his plan to add one thousand students during his 10-year principalship well underway. The home of what would become the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery had just been donated to Queen’s. And in a brick house on University Avenue, the Faculty of Law opened its doors to an initial class of 11 students: modest beginnings for what Queen's Law has become today, with a nationally leading Juris Doctor program, a full graduate program, and more recently undergraduate offerings.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the Faculty of Law is hosting a special homecoming weekend which begins tonight with a welcome back reception at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. At this event, 13 Queen’s Law alumni from the class of 1967 will be inducted into the Tricolour Guard and presented with special medals by Dean Bill Flanagan.

  • From The Queen's Journal, dated February 2, 1957. "A New Law Faculty at Queen's?"
    From The Queen's Journal, dated February 2, 1957. "A New Law Faculty at Queen's?"
  • Later that same month, on February 19, 1957. "Queen's Law School Becomes Possibility"
    Later that same month, on February 19, 1957. "Queen's Law School Becomes Possibility"
  • Then finally, in October of 1957, "A Faculty Is Born. [Professor J.A. Corry is] Acting Dean"
    Then finally, in October of 1957, "A Faculty Is Born. [Professor J.A. Corry is] Acting Dean"

“Queen’s Faculty of Law has been training leaders in the Canadian legal system for six decades, and this weekend will be an excellent opportunity for us to reflect and celebrate with our alumni,” says Dean Flanagan. “At the same time, it will be an opportunity to talk about the next generation of law talent, how we attract them to Queen’s, and how we support them in attaining a high-quality legal education.”

On Saturday, alumni will have the opportunity to tour the Queen’s Law Clinics in downtown Kingston, attend a symposium honouring recently retired Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell (Law'76), and participate in an anniversary gala cocktail reception and dinner at Ban Righ Hall. Some 260 alumni will be taking part in the weekend festivities. Among the notable attendees, in addition to Mr. Cromwell: John McClatchy (Law’67) who established the MacLatchy Environmental Law Internship Fund and is celebrating his 50th reunion; Geraldine Tipper (Law'60), one of only two women from the first graduating class and a practicing lawyer to this day; prominent U.K. lawyer James Dorr (Law’87), who has recently joined the Dean’s Council and is travelling to celebrate his 30th reunion; Deborah Orida (Law’92), Managing Director and Head of Private Equity in Asia for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, who will be travelling from Hong Kong to celebrate her 25th reunion; and The Honourable J. David Wake (Law ’72), Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner and a former Ontario Court Justice.

Saturday will also mark the start of the QLAW60 fundraising campaign in support of student bursaries. The campaign will help students pursuing their JD offset the rising cost of post-secondary education.

“If students have the talent and the skills to succeed, we want to make sure that Queen’s doors are open to them,” adds Dean Flanagan. “We thank the many generous donors who contribute to our academic mission and the success of our learners.”

The QLAW60 campaign is already off to a good start. A graduate from the class of 1987 has pledged to match donations from his classmates up to $30,000. The full results of the campaign will be announced in May at the annual Celebrate Queen’s Law event in Toronto.

Learn more about the Queen’s Law Homecoming weekend.

The first Faculty of Law graduating class ('60), and the faculty. (Supplied Photo)

 

Gaels help make Taylor Hall tournament a success

Hockey stars from the NHL, OHL and OUA faced off on July 29 in downtown Kingston for the 4th annual Taylor Hall Charity Ball Hockey Tournament in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston.

Among those taking up their sticks alongside the New Jersey Devils star winger were Queen’s Gaels standouts Kevin Bailie (Law’19, Artsci’17) and Spencer Abraham (Law’20).

"Taylor Hall Ball Hockey Tournament"
Tournament co-founders Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils, second from left, and Kevin Bailie (Law’19) of the Queen''s Gaels men's hockey team, third from left, take a break from the action with Nicholas Osanic, Aaron Fransen (Law’04), and Phil Osanic (Law’91, LLM’02), at the charity ball hockey event in downtown Kingston on July 29. (Photo by Jackie Li)

The event is the brainchild of Bailie, a goalie for the Gaels, and his childhood and former OHL rival Hall. 

“One night when I was in first-year undergrad, Taylor and I had a debate about who could build a better ball hockey team of former teammates,” says Bailie. “We did just that. Eventually some businesses found out and wanted to sponsor the event. It started gaining a lot of publicity and became what is my favourite day of the summer each year. We figured with that much exposure and potential we might as well use it to support a good cause, and that is why all proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston.”

Abraham, another former OHL competitor of Bailie’s and now his Gaels teammate, participated in the tournament for the third consecutive year and also pitched in to help Bailie with game-day organization.

A defenceman who has now attended two camps with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Abraham can empathize with the children.

“Through my hockey experiences I noticed how much kids looked up to me as a player and the power I possessed in making a difference in their lives,” he says. “Hockey and the life skills I have learned playing the game have molded me into the person I am today and I attend the event to give back to the community and raise money so these kids have the opportunity to live the same dream and acquire the same life skills.” 

Also joining the play were Aaron Fransen, (Law’04, Artsci’01), and Phil Osanic (Law’91, LLM’02). 

Fransen, a Kingston Frontenacs and Queen’s Gaels alumnus, is one of Bailie's key role models.

“We have similar backgrounds and as a mentor Aaron has been so helpful to me,” he says.

Now a partner with Stikeman Elliott in Toronto, Fransen played on a team of lawyers. Also on that team was Osanic, a Kingston lawyer and faculty member with Smith School of Business and the Faculty of Law. 

Other NHL players participating in the event included Calvin de Haan (New York Islanders), Ben Hutton (Vancouver Canucks) and Lawson Crouse (Arizona Coyotes). 

This year’s event raised nearly $20,000

“The highlight for me was just seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces,” says Abraham. “To pass on that inspiration and love for the game to others who have the same goals and aspirations I once had is the ultimate prize for me.”

Bailie echoes that sentiment.

“I loved the game between Kingston minor players and a celebrity squad,” he says, reflecting on his favourite sports memory from when he was nine – skating on the Bay of Quinte with the Vancouver Canucks when Belleville native and then-coach Marc Crawford brought them to town between a Toronto-Ottawa series. 

“To think we may have just created such a life-long memory for 20 young kids feels amazing,” he says. “That’s why I do it and I hope I’m always in a position to do those sorts of things for deserving people.”

Gift creates award for Indigenous law students

David Sharpe (Law’95) has been helping Queen’s Law reach out to Indigenous Juris Doctor (JD) prospects for the past four years as a volunteer ambassador. Now he has bolstered that support with a $50,000 gift, creating the David Sharpe Indigenous Law Student Award for upper-year studies.

"David Sharpe"
David Sharpe (Law’95) has provided Queen's law with a $50,000 gift to create an Indigenous law student award for upper-year studies. (Photo by Studio 66)

“It is a pleasure and an honour to be able to share in Queen’s commitment to making higher education more accessible to Indigenous students,” says Mr. Sharpe, CEO of Bridging Finance Inc. and Chair Emeritus of the Board of Governors for First Nations University of Canada.

The award, valued at $10,000 for each of the next five years, will be given on the basis of students’ contributions to the law school or broader university community to enhance understanding and respect for Indigenous knowledge, culture, governance and perspectives on law, as well as good academic standing and general proficiency in JD studies. Two students may share the award after completion of first or second year of the JD program.

Following University Senate approval, the first Sharpe Award recipient(s) will be selected in the summer of 2017. 

“This award will be of tremendous assistance to our Indigenous students in Law,” says Heather Cole, (Artsci’91, Law’96, MPA’00), the Faculty of Law’s Assistant Dean of Students. “Queen’s Law has made a strong commitment to recruiting more Indigenous students and creating a law school that supports diversity and cultural awareness and understanding. We are grateful to alumni like David Sharpe who support these efforts.” 

In a timely law course he developed especially for his alma mater and introduced last winter, Mr. Sharpe also began teaching students how to negotiate in a First Nations context.

“Queen’s is developing solid Indigenous leaders,” says Mr. Sharpe, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. “I am committed to assisting with this endeavour and honouring the Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.”

Elder Law Clinic expands experiential learning opportunities

​Blair Hicks has always had a high-flying career and she’s now guiding some Queen’s Law students along their own paths to making a difference. As the new director of the Queen’s Elder Law Clinic (QELC), she supervises student caseworkers as they gain valuable practical experience while providing much-needed services to vulnerable Kingston-area residents. 

In this Q&A, first published by Queen’s Law Reports, she talks about the growing demand for legal assistance in her area of practice and her future plans for the Queen’s Law clinic. 

Q: What interests you most about elder law and in providing legal services to senior citizens?

[Blair Hicks, Director, Queen's Elder Law Clinic]
Blair Hicks is the director of the Queen's Elder Law Clinic. (Photo by Val Mitchell)

Blair Hicks: I particularly like the idea of helping seniors be more in control of events as the years unfold for them. I find that most clients are so relieved and empowered once they have put their wishes and instructions down into something formal; it’s very rewarding work.

Q: What attracted you to the Queen’s Elder Law Clinic?

BH: I first came to QELC in May of last year, as review counsel covering for the then-director who was on leave. It felt like a great fit right from the start. I spent a good portion of my former career (many years as an air force navigator) in a training and education role – I loved it (and missed it)! I was drawn to the opportunity to combine estate planning, elder issues (which are the areas I focus on in my own practice) and working with students all at once. It’s a fantastic opportunity.

Q: What will you be doing in your role as director?

BH: As the director, I will be overseeing the clinic and its academic program under the leadership of the Executive Director Karla McGrath. The program accepts eight student caseworkers over the school year, and we employ one caseworker through the summer months to provide year-round continuity. Specifically, I will wear a number of hats: instructor, mentor, review counsel, program manager, cheerleader, coach, and chief cook ‘n’ bottle-washer. Ahoy! 

Q: What are your plans for the clinic as the QELC director?

BH: QELC has grown each year, and in the last 12 months in particular there’s been a big leap in client applications, which now come in regularly, even during the traditionally quiet summer months. I hope that QELC will follow the pace of Queen’s Business Law Clinic and Queen’s Family Law Clinic, and continue to see steady growth so that we can eventually provide this experience to more than eight students; demand for the program from the students has always been greater than the number of available positions.

Last academic term, QELC established a trial community partnerships program with the Northumberland Community Legal Clinic (NCLC) in Cobourg, and our caseworkers reached out twice per month over the year to serve clients already established there. It was a great success, and this summer QELC has duplicated that arrangement with the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC) just down the street from us. These partnerships are win-win: the students have more and more diverse file work, are introduced to the workings of the community clinics, and the service addresses a real need in these communities. As well, we now have an in-house partnership with the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic to assist incarcerated seniors with issues such as powers of attorney. 

Lastly, in the months ahead, we hope to continue to target and educate more of the local community groups or organizations that would help us have a greater presence in Kingston, and generate an ongoing flow of clients. QELC students and staff have recently presented to Kingston Community Health Centre, local church groups, and financial and tax service providers that serve low-income seniors; the response to our service is always overwhelmingly positive.

Visit the Queen's Elder Law Clinic website for more information.

Honorary Degree: Donald Bayne

  • Lawyer and former Gaels quarterback Donald Bayne speaks at Grant Hall on Friday, June 9 after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University.
    Lawyer and former Gaels quarterback Donald Bayne speaks at Grant Hall on Friday, June 9 after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University.
  • Donald Bayne, fourth from left, received an honorary degree from Queen's University on Friday, June 9. From left: Rector Cam Yung; Chancellor Jim Leech; Principal Daniel Woolf; Dr. Bayne; and Bill Flanagan, Dean, Faculty of Law.
    Donald Bayne, fourth from left, received an honorary degree from Queen's University on Friday, June 9. From left: Rector Cam Yung; Chancellor Jim Leech; Principal Daniel Woolf; Dr. Bayne; and Bill Flanagan, Dean, Faculty of Law.
  • Lawyer and former Gaels quarterback Donald Bayne waits to be hooded by Dean of the Faculty of Law Bill Flanagan as Chancellor Jim Leech looks on.
    Lawyer and former Gaels quarterback Donald Bayne waits to be hooded by Dean of the Faculty of Law Bill Flanagan as Chancellor Jim Leech looks on.

Lawyer and former quarterback for the Gaels, Donald Bayne (Arts’66, Law’69, EMBA’01) returned to Queen’s On Friday, June 9 to receive an honorary degree.

A partner with Bayne, Sellar, Boxall, a firm practising exclusively criminal law in Ottawa, Mr. Bayne has practised criminal law exclusively for the past 45 years.  He has been designated a specialist in criminal litigation by the Law Society and has conducted trial and appellate advocacy at all levels of courts in Canada and at public inquiries around the world.

In 2015 he was inducted into the Queen’s Football Hall of Fame in the builder category. Mr. Bayne was among the first to advocate for a new stadium and played significant roles in leadership, fundraising and advocacy, for the restoration of the athletics fields, and the new Richardson Stadium. He was also the president of the Queen's Football Club for many years.

Law Library acquires Aboriginal texts

Located on traditional Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory, the Faculty of Law has been part of a campus-wide effort at Queen’s University to provide an opportunity for members of Indigenous communities to see representations of their cultures on campus, and also provide non-Indigenous people an opportunity to learn about Indigenous cultures and languages.

[Lederman Law Library Aboriginal Texts]
A recent donation enabled Lederman Library to expand its collection of books focused on Indigenous law. (University Communications)

One way Lederman Law Library is doing this is through a recent gift for the purchase of legal texts.

“An anonymous donor generously provided us with $5,000 for books for the Lederman Library. In the context of the recent findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, expanding our available works on Aboriginal law is a priority,” says Amy Kaufman, Head Law Librarian. “We focused particularly on works on Aboriginal law and aspects of law, as published by Aboriginal authors and publishing houses.”

The gift allows the Lederman Library to begin broadening and deepening its collection in this area.

“What we have now is not huge, but it’s important,” Ms. Kaufman says. “It’s a modest collection, but is composed of material that can give researchers a fuller understanding of Aboriginal law than books that have  often been written through a non-Indigenous lens. We have also held some of the donation in reserve, so we can keep looking and stay current.”

Further work to expand the collection will involve consultation outside the library, as well.

“Jason Mercredi, the Aboriginal Student Representative on the Law Students’ Society, has kindly agreed to help us with forward-looking research,” Ms. Kaufman adds.

As well as books that give wider, and particularly indigenous, perspectives on aboriginal law, Ms. Kaufman says that the new acquisitions have resonances that extend past strictly legal interests.

“We’re focusing on books that go beyond black letter law; that look at what Aboriginal people themselves say are important rules, customs and methodologies. We’re looking for ways to explore the Aboriginal context and formulation of Aboriginal law – to have a new openness to those customs and methods,” she explains.

The Lederman acquisitions represent one of the ways Queen’s University Library is supporting diversity and inclusion on campus. Another recent example includes the creation of 12 new study rooms at Stauffer Library with Indigenous names and artwork. 

Changes to senior academic leadership mandates

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Benoit-Antoine Bacon has announced the expansion/refocusing or extension of four senior academic leadership mandates.

“The mandates of senior academic leadership must evolve in order to best meet the needs and aspirations of the university. Accordingly, the roles and responsibilities for both Teri Shearer and Martha Whitehead have been updated and enhanced to reflect the goals and aims of their positions,” says Dr. Bacon. “I am also pleased that both Dean Bill Flanagan and Dean David Saunders have agreed to extend their positions for one and two years respectively, and will continue to provide the leadership that Queen’s has come to rely upon.”

[Teri Shearer]To reflect the deputy provost’s new focus on, and accountability for, equity, diversity and inclusion on campus, Teri Shearer’s title has been modified to deputy provost (academic operations and inclusion). In this modified role, Dr. Shearer will champion equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the university’s mission. She will oversee the Human Rights and Equity Offices, lead the university’s response to the crucial reports from the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Taskforce, and oversee the establishment of the Aboriginal Initiatives Office.

The deputy provost’s key operational responsibilities in overseeing academic appointments and curriculum development as chair of the Senate Committee on Academic Development will also ensure there is direct oversight for enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion across the university’s academic operations. As the provost's second-in-command, the deputy provost (academic operations and inclusion) is uniquely positioned to lead broad institutional change through close working relationships with the deans, vice-provosts and vice-principals.

[Martha Whitehead]Martha Whitehead has been asked to play a more explicit role in the institutional coordination of the university’s various areas of digital strengths, and in further planning to meet Queen’s current and future digital needs. Accordingly, her title has been revised to vice-provost (digital planning) and university librarian. Working hand in hand with the chief information officer and associate vice-principal (information technology services), Ms. Whitehead will help to bring together all stakeholders and lead discussions towards laying the foundation of a digital strategy for Queen’s.

[Bill Flanagan]At Principal Daniel Woolf’s request, Bill Flanagan has agreed to remain in the position of dean, Faculty of Law for an additional year until June 30, 2019, following the conclusion of his third term on June 30, 2018. Mr. Flanagan was initially appointed dean of the Faculty of Law in 2005, and has since seen the faculty through a period of unprecedented growth and development. 

[David Saunders]At the principal's request, David Saunders has agreed to serve for two additional years, until June 30, 2020, as dean of the Smith School of Business. Under Dr. Saunders’ strategic leadership, the business school has experienced dramatic growth and surge in reputation, and has expanded its footprint in both Kingston and Toronto. In 2015, the school received a $50 million donation from Canadian entrepreneur Stephen Smith – the largest gift to a business school in Canada – and in recognition, was named the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business.

 

Law student encourages deeper understanding of treaty histories

On March 21, the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force presented its final report with recommendations to the university community. The historical milestone was marked with an event that day at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. The Gazette is featuring profiles of Indigenous members of the TRC Task Force. Today, the focus is on Jason Mercredi (Law’18), a member of Queen’s Senate and the Aboriginal representative on the Queen’s Law Students’ Society.

Prospective students will often ask what a university or college will offer them. Jason Mercredi flipped that question when he was considering his post-secondary options a few years ago.

“I understood that Queen’s wasn’t well known for its Aboriginal content, but that the law school wanted to improve its Aboriginal profile,” says Mr. Mercredi (Law’18). “With my experience working with Aboriginal communities to develop programs, I felt I could offer something to Queen’s in the same way the university is offering me a degree.”

[Jason Mercredi]
Jason Mercredi (Law'18) says he found it rewarding serving on Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Task Force. He is hopeful the recommendations put forth by the task force will help Indigenous Peoples feel more comfortable attending Queen's. (University Communications) 

Mr. Mercredi, a Mushkegowuk Cree, was born in Winnipeg. Before applying to Queen’s, he worked with several organizations dedicated to advancing Aboriginal rights, including Treaty 1-11. As part of his involvement with that organization, Mr. Mercredi developed a deep understanding of the treaty histories, which influenced his decision to study law.

“Understanding the history of the treaties is really missing from the education system, and even in law school, we don’t really learn about the treaties,” he says. “People don’t have a full understanding of the nation-to-nation relationship. My goal is to reinvigorate those treaties, and being at a law school, I know what changes I want to make to have those rights recognized.”

Soon after arriving at the university, Mr. Mercredi began working to make Queen’s law students more aware of Aboriginal treaty and inherent rights. He established the Aboriginal Law Students’ Alliance, a group designed to help all Queen’s law students appreciate and participate in Aboriginal legal matters with greater understanding.

In 2016, he and fellow law students changed the Law Students’ Society’s constitution to include a longstanding Indigenous student representative position. Due to the small body of Indigenous students at Queen’s Law, he was subsequently elected to serve as the Indigenous student representative. That same year, Mr. Mercredi was elected as the law students’ representative on Queen’s Senate.

Offering wide knowledge to TRC Task Force

When the Queen’s TRC Task Force was announced in early 2016, Mr. Mercredi felt compelled to serve given his knowledge of treaties and his work experience. As an Aboriginal student liaison with Mothercraft College in Toronto, he worked to ensure the success of Indigenous students enrolled in the early childhood education program, and he also gave guest presentations on Indigenous history. While with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, he assessed the social needs of the urban Indigenous population and helped create programs to address those needs.

“For a period of time, it was quite depressing, because I had to look at what was wrong, and there is so much wrong,” he says. “But that’s what elevated me to come here. That background, understanding, and knowledge is what I wanted to bring to the TRC Task Force.”

Mr. Mercredi says he enjoyed serving on the task force. He found the experience rewarding, with respectful dialogue around the table. “There was a lot of genuine interest in creating equity, which is a healthier approach than creating equality, because with equality you are just absorbed into everything else. You don’t have your real identity.”

As Queen’s now moves to implement the task force’s recommendations, Mr. Mercredi is looking forward to Indigenous identities growing and flourishing across the university in the coming years. 

“I would hope that Indigenous Peoples – First Nations, Métis, and Inuit – can just come to Queen’s and be themselves. I would hope they are able to come to Queen’s and have their own identity without having to promote it or explain it constantly. I would like to see it as a wholesome part of the entire school culture.”

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