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Demetrios Nicolaides to make announcement about free speech on campuses

by News Desk
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Edmonton –

The Alberta government says changes are being made to further protect free speech on campus. This is because the former professor has spoken out on so-called ‘awakened’ policies and is preparing for a showdown with the University of Lethbridge.

Higher Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said the changes would be announced in the coming days, but did not give details.

He was dealing with the case of Francis Widowson, a former tenured professor at Mount Royal College, Calgary. Widowson was revoked after being invited to speak on campus this week about her concerns that mob ethos and “awakened policies” are increasingly threatening academic freedom.

Widdowson has previously been criticized for comments about boarding schools.

“I understand that past comments by this speaker have been controversial,” Nicolaides said in a statement Tuesday.

“However, I believe it is important for our university to foster a strong culture of free speech and diverse points of view. Even so, we will of course forbid speech intended to incite hatred or violence.”

Asked about Nicolaides’ comments, Widdowson said in an interview:

“I think we need a public inquiry into what’s going on at the university.

“Universities are run by awakened activists who are completely against open and honest discussion of ideas on campus.”

While questioning whether school abuse of Indigenous children amounted to “cultural genocide,” as described in the Final Report of Truth, Widowson argued against the educational ramifications of the Canadian boarding school system. She was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 amid controversy over her comments praising benefits. and the Canadian Settlement Commission.

Mr Widdowson was invited by a professor to speak on Wednesday, and the University of Lethbridge provided space for the event.

About 2,500 students signed a petition against the university hosting the speech.

The university’s president, Mike Mahon, last Thursday defended the decision to accept Widowson on free speech grounds, even though the university disagreed with her views.

But on Monday, Mahon said after further consultations that Widowson’s views would not advance the boarding school debate and would harm Indigenous children and families by minimizing the pain and suffering inflicted on them, thus providing space. said it was canceled.

“It is clear that the harm associated with this meeting is a hindrance to any meaningful reconciliation,” Mahon said in a statement.

Widowson was scheduled to give a speech in the campus’s public atrium on Wednesday afternoon and demanded that school security guards throw her out.

“I have never denied the harm of boarding schools,” she told The Canadian Press.

“People distort what I say about it. My problem is that boarding schools weren’t genocide. I did.”

“I’ve been branded as a kind of hater,” she added. If so, you must be able to speak honestly about important issues.”

Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley said Nicolaides was woefully deaf and that his statements needed to be reconsidered.

“The idea of ​​someone coming to a college and telling a student body made up of many Indigenous students about how they are benefiting in some way from a boarding school is very disturbing to me,” Notley said. told the group.

“[The United Conservative government]’s failure to understand how incredibly harmful these ideas are to a large segment of the Alberta population is a reflection of the real experience Albertans have been exposed to. and shows their lack of understanding about trauma.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on January 31, 2023.

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