‘Preferential Hiring Backfires’

“In 2016, Angelique EagleWoman packed up her life in the United States and moved north to Thunder Bay, where she became the first ‘indigenous’ Dean of a Canadian law school.
{Her background was in American tribal law. We’re still waiting to hear how that applies to Canada…}

“Her appointment at Lakehead University’s law faculty was celebrated as “historic” by the ‘indigenous’ legal community and felt particularly poignant in the wake of the ‘{Partial} Truth and {One-way} Reconciliation Commission’. In Thunder Bay, where race relations are particularly fraught, it was a hopeful moment.

“But less than two years into the job, EagleWoman is quitting, alleging ‘systemic racism’ at Lakehead University.

“Writing to the law faculty’s ‘Aboriginal Advisory Committee’ on March 7, she said her efforts have been “thwarted” by the university, which “systematically sought to minimize” her work as dean.

“EagleWoman said she also faced allegations of reverse discrimination {!}. In November, 2016 — just months into her first year — a former employee filed a human rights complaint against EagleWoman and Lakehead, accusing the dean of bullying and firing her because she is a

young blonde Caucasian woman”.

“The complainant, Amanda Trevisanutto, a former office administrator with Lakehead University’s community legal clinic…said she always received “stellar” performance reviews but within five weeks of EagleWoman’s arrival, she was terminated with “no justification”. She alleged that five out of seven administrative staff were fired or had their employment status “adversely impacted” by September 2016,

representing over 70% of the wholly-Caucasian female administrative personnel”.

Meanwhile, Ms. EagleWoman and Lakehead University had been busy procuring the services of Aboriginal employees to join the university”,

she wrote, referencing two ‘indigenous’ people appointed as director of ‘indigenous’ relations, and the university’s chair on {Partial} Truth and {One-way} Reconciliation.

“She added that

while there is nothing inherently wrong with these appointments, a closer look at the recruitment process brings to light discriminatory elements in hiring”.

“She said the job posting for her replacement called for “cultural competency” — something she interpreted as discriminatory towards her as a non-‘indigenous’ person who does not have

knowledge of specific cultural practices gained through immersion within Aboriginal culture”.

“Trevisanutto further alleged that EagleWoman bullied her and once made a sexist remark, commenting in a “condescending tone” that she looked like a “supermodel”.

Ms. EagleWoman had already concluded that because Ms. Trevisanutto is a young, blonde Caucasian female that she must not be very smart, she must have obtained her success based on looks, and that she is not deserving of her job”,
she alleged.
These types of assumptions continue to plague Ontario workplaces and are precisely the type of assumptions that perpetuate inequality”…

“EagleWoman says there is “no truth” to the allegations and she was removed as a respondent to the complaint in March. The case was recently settled by the university, which does not necessarily mean the allegations were substantiated but that a negotiated deal was reached between the parties.

I have been the victim of ‘systemic discrimination’ at Lakehead University”,
EagleWoman wrote in her March letter.
I have felt constantly challenged by a lack of funding, a hostile environment, and other negative actions directed at me as an {American} ‘indigenous’ woman. It has reached a point that I am under such mental and emotional stress that it is untenable for me to stay.”

“The rupture between EagleWoman and Lakehead University underscores the entrenched difficulty of making systemic changes, even when everybody shares the same overarching goal.

It’s a tragedy”,

said Celina Reitberger, former executive director of the ‘Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services’, who worked closely with EagleWoman…

“…The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law was founded in 2013 with the backing of local communities like Nishnawbe Aski ‘Nation’ {not a ‘nation’ but a council of Band leaders, and not really ‘local’, as the Bands are from all over northern Ontario:
NAN encompasses James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario’s portion of Treaty No. 5, and has a total land-mass covering two-thirds of the province of Ontario spanning 210,000 square miles.”},
which pushed for the creation of a {race-based} law school that emphasized ‘indigenous’ people and law….

“In emailed statements, Lakehead University emphasized its “unwavering” commitment to its core pillars, including Aboriginal and ‘Indigenous’ law {Then it serves you right!}. The university said it makes “exceptional efforts” to foster an inclusive culture and was committed to ensuring EagleWoman’s success…

“EagleWoman said she was accused of focusing too much on the ‘indigenous’ mandate and often felt targeted as an ‘indigenous’ woman…

{Well, you were hired as the Dean for EVERYONE, not just aboriginal students. Some people just can’t see past their own narrow worldview…}

“In an email to the ‘Star’, Trevisanutto said she lost her job less than a month after her immediate supervisor gave her 9 out of 10 in a performance review, which commended her “excellent ‘can do’ attitude” and ability to deal with

colleagues, students and the public in a very professional and friendly manner”.

I never knew anything about my job being in jeopardy or why until after I was told I was fired”,
she said.

“Trevisanutto’s human rights complaint described EagleWoman as “curt”, “dismissive” and “aggressive” — descriptors echoed by another former employee, who declined to be interviewed on the record…

“The ‘Indigenous’ Bar Association, which trumpeted EagleWoman’s historic appointment in 2016, is now in shock over her resignation, said president Scott Robertson. (His {Aboriginal Industry} law firm, ‘Nahwegahbow, Corbiere’, is representing EagleWoman…)…”

–‘Celebrated Indigenous law school dean resigns, claiming ‘systemic racism’,
From the Toronto Star’s “Identity and Inequality Reporter”:
Jennifer Yang, Toronto Star, April 11, 2018

COMMENT: “A school which proudly displays signs in English and Ojibwe, which makes it mandatory to learn about the Indigenous, which frequently hosts events in opposition to racism, which has an Aboriginal department, which proudly displays Native art, and which has an Aboriginal liaison is now, all of a sudden systemically racist? Maybe this woman is just grossly incompetent.

“That said, there is indeed systemic racism at Lakehead. When I was a student there, the university would email me job postings which would always include the tagline ‘Women, Aboriginal, LGBT, and minority candidates preferred’. Feels lovely to be excluded from jobs on the basis of your gender and race, but I’m a white man, so apparently this form of racism and sexism is a-okay. You will never see an investigation into that.”

Angelique EagleWoman. (Heather Kitching–CBC)

See also:
Furthering Segregated Law{April 1, 2016}:
‘American ‘Tribal Court’ Lawyer Takes Over As Dean of Canadian Law School’



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