From left to right: David Lawson, Alanna Copland, Jasmine Redfern, Maria Campbell (College of Law Cultural Advisor), Angnakuluk Friesen, Robert Comeau, Martin Phillipson (Dean of Law)

Alumnus’ gift gives law students from Iqaluit opportunity to attend Indigenous conference

A generous gift from University of Saskatchewan (USask) alumnus Ken Fredeen (LLB’83) has allowed five USask students from Iqaluit to travel to Saskatoon for the first time since the Nunavut Law Program was established at the College of Law.

By Sarah Trefiak

Fredeen, General Counsel with Deloitte LLP, was recently selected as Canada’s General Counsel of the Year and received $20,000 as part of the honour, which he gifted to the College of Law. With this generous support, the college was able to pay for the travel of five students enrolled in the college’s Nunavut Law Program, allowing them to attend and participate in the Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference from Nov. 1-3 in Saskatoon. 

A member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at the College of Law, Fredeen has long been a passionate supporter of creating a more inclusive legal profession in Canada. He was a founding member of Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion (LLD). With more than 130 general counsel from across Canada, the LLD funded an educational video which features significant Indigenous thought leaders. That video will be launched at the IBA meetings in Saskatoon this week. 

“The launch of the LLD video and the use of the General Counsel of the Year award to support Indigenous law students in the city and province of my birth, is very special to me,” said Fredeen. “I congratulate the College of Law on their longstanding commitment to the Indigenous legal community.”

“The college is enormously grateful to Ken for his generosity and his commitment to issues related to diversity and inclusion,” said Dean of Law Martin Phillipson. “The College of Law has a 45-year history of making space for Indigenous students and lawyers and we are proud that alumni such as Ken share that vision to help reinforce our commitment to a representative and diverse legal profession.”

“Mr. Fredeen’s gift allows us to not have to worry about the finances, or worry about forfeiting something else in making the decision to attend,” said Robert Comeau, a Nunavut Law Program student. “So, we are here to learn and this is just a tremendous gift.”

Comeau added “it’s not just being able to attend the IBA fall conference, but to be able to come down to our law school, we really feel like we are part of the University of Saskatchewan.”

Delivered in partnership between the College of Law, Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) and the Government of Nunavut, the program aims to increase the number of practicing lawyers in the territory, produce graduates that can practice in various fields of law, and improve access to justice for Nunavummiut.

Launched in 2017 and taught over four years, the Nunavut program prepared students for legal studies during the first year, and will offer the same rigorous Juris Doctor program as the College of Law in the remaining three years. Students who successfully complete the program in 2021 will receive a University of Saskatchewan Juris Doctor (JD) degree, and join a community of distinguished alumni.

“Ken’s gift has given members of the class of 2021 from Iqaluit the opportunity to meet their counterparts, as well as Indigenous lawyers from across Canada, here in Saskatoon, and we are very appreciative of that,” said Phillipson.