Legal Information for Canada’s North

I hadn’t noticed a great piece on the UVic Law School Library’s efforts to make legal information available in the North and to provide legal resources to students and lawyers from Nunavut. It’s a fascinating mélange of traditional, electronic and culture-specific materials, delivered under difficult circumstances.

The article entitled Providing Library Services to Canada’s First Arctic Law School by Emily Yearwood-Lee, talks about how a law librarian, Serena Ableson set up a law library dedicated to the needs of Nunavut.

There is also a piece by Ms. Ableson in the International Journal Of Legal Information The Official Journal Of The International Association Of Law Libraries. at Volume 34, number 1, Spring 2006 entitled
Bringing Legal Education to the Canadian Arctic: the Development of the Akitsiraq Law School and the Challenges for Providing Library Services to a Non-traditional Law School. I hope that someone can find an electronic version – I can’t.


  1. Westlaw has the full text of Ms. Ableson’s article:)

  2. Congrats to Serena for the profile and the published article !

    The local Akitsiraq collection has now been inherited by the Law Library at the Nunavut Court of Justice and most have been added to the collection at the new courthouse.

    At least two of the Akitsiraq students have written the bar admission exam (I assisted with the invigilation) and we expect that their calls to the bar will take place in the very near future.

    There have been informal discussions of a second Akitsiraq intake, but no concrete plan is currently on the table.

  3. I should have mentioned Gary who as Law Librarian is vital to the administration of the Nunavut Court of Justice – see

  4. The Akitsirak Programme and the involvement of the Priestly Law Library were in part motivated by UVic’s history of co-operative education and the philosophy of the faculty of law in building social captial. As Ms. Ableson makes clear in her article in IJLL – it was not a traditional distant education course. The studetns were treated like UVic students.

    The Akits students therefore had access to all the electronic databases their southern counterparts had; the bulk of the printed Akits curriculum and research material was repatriated to UVic where it forms part of our growing collection of material on aboriginal and customary law.

    Credit should be given to the UVic law systems administrator, Rich McCue, who was faced with tremendous technology challenges, but between him and Serena they Akits students managed to participate remotely in the opening day ceremonies, and take part in a fundraising street hockey game. Not much outdoor ice in Victoria.

    It is, indeed, a very interesting and unique story how information can be shared and marshalled to allow remote students as level a playing field as possible.