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Letter: Laurentian is special and it’s been 'run over with a steamroller’

Letter-writer says Laurentian is the very fabric of Northern Ontario, our culture, our economy, our much-needed promise for the minds that pass through its halls’
Laurentian University campus 1

We are writing you, dear city, to apologize.

Our apology comes because we have failed you. We have failed in the way we have treated your citizens and cherished beacon, Laurentian University. We have failed in saving the very fabric of our Sudburian society – one that is as diverse as its rocky, watery, foliage-filled landscape. 

Laurentian University is not just an academic institution, a place of knowledge and world-renowned research. A place to prop up your pile of books, stage your performance or guzzle your caffeinated beverage of choice. It’s not just a place to find your club, find your niche or practice your scientific experiments.

It is the very fabric of Northern Ontario, our culture, our economy, our much-needed promise for the minds that pass through its halls. It is a tri-lingual exploration, a melting pot if you will, of students, academics, faculty and just plain bookworms, who stretch to the horizons of learning with will and gumption. It is part of the mosaic of our beloved country, its languages, religions, rights, sexual identities and fundamental freedoms.

It’s part of our poetry. 

One of Laurentian University’s cachets, a distinctive, gold-standard program was the Midwifery program, the sole bilingual program in Canada and one of the only several ones offered in the country, period. Sages-femmes loosely translated means “Women of wisdom”, a health science profession devoted to the care of women and their unborn children. Where will these northern “wise women” converge and who will they care for since their program has been cut?

Laurentian is the Jeno Tihanyi Olympic Gold Pool, its waters still running and swirling, waiting for the next Olympic candidate to feel its warmth. Where shrieks and cheers were once heard by friends and family for the varsity swim team. Where the students now have anvils attached to them, sinking them to the bottom, their program cut.

It is Huntington University, where a certain professor brazenly taught Religious Studies students to sift through their own personal “isms” and explore the credos of the world, not just those that are familiar. His gift as a raconteur was unparalleled, even if sometimes he wore a kilt and referenced “Braveheart” too often. These students and their religious ventures are now as empty as a pew, their program cut. He would not be resting in peace now.

It is Alphonse Raymond Pavilion, where French theatre students and La Troupe gathered to simply create and bay at the moon of ‘la créativité’. Where the most devastating, hilarious, avant-garde theatrical inventions took place in French. Ils nous ont “Haché” aux genoux. Encore. À perpétuité. Where these students will no longer grace the stage. Les coulisses seront vides. Because their program has been cut.

It is a mining capital with no French mining program.

It is an Italian Studies student who might never meet a Romano.

It is a glowing tapestry where one strand, strategically pulled, has made it unravel to clumps of fabric that make no sense. That was done in secret.

Dearest city, forgive us our trespasses, and we know who we are. We were clumsy and frivolous with your precious gift. 

We ran over it with a steamroller frankly. And it’s just not right.

Nadia Jireada

proud alumna, cum laude