Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
Lawyers move to the classroom

Inuksuk students tackle the tricky subject of criminal law

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 10/01) - Clustered around a jumble of tables in the centre of the classroom, nine high school students cast quizzical glances at their fingers.

"There are two reasons why we use fingerprints for forensics," says their instructor for the day, RCMP Cpl. Harry Harding.

"They are unique and they persist," he says, moving from his desk to a whiteboard to sketch a series of unique prints.

"What are the ridges made up of again?" asks one student.

"Pores. Sweat pores," replies Harding.

The class then assembles around another table, watching wide-eyed as Harding performs chemical magic. With a quick dusting of a handful of papers pulled from a garbage can, he reveals footprints and fingerprints.

The class lunges ahead to do it for themselves.

This is the way students learn law at Inuksuk high school. There is a theory component, of course, and no legal course would be complete without the cumbersome and complex details of case history. But those details don't seem to bother Grade 10 student Andrew Morrison too much. "Law is much more interesting than it seems," he says.

Corenna Muy-alia, another student in the class, says she likes it, but doesn't want to be a lawyer.

"I'm just interested in justice," she says.

Alyne Mochan is interested in justice, too. The University of Victoria law student is currently on a work-term assignment with Nunavut Justice Beverly Browne. Together they teach the course.

"The class is to give the kids an introduction to the law," says Mochan.

"We cover all the big areas: criminal, civil, land negotiation. It's a broad understanding of where the law comes from and how it fits into their life."

Response to their guest speakers has been more that positive. The list of those who have already made an appearance include Nunavut's best-know lawyer, Premier Paul Okalik, and a team of forensic experts from Alberta.

As part of the Northern-oriented program, students have visited the courthouse in Iqaluit and run mock trials. "We've looked at historic cases involving Inuit and their conflict with western law," said Mochan.

The idea is to prime students for careers in law, said Browne.

"It's important for young people to have exposure to the law," Browne said. "I hope some will consider it in their career plans. The more information they can receive about it, the better it is."