University of Lethbridge cancels controversial Frances Widdowson lecture | PKBNEWS

A former Calgary professor has said she will give a controversial talk on the University of Lethbridge (U of L) campus this week, even though the school says it won’t provide space for it.

Frances Widdowson made headlines in 2020 when she claimed that boarding schools had educational benefits.

In 2021, she was fired from Mount Royal University (MRU) from her permanent position over allegations of workplace harassment and bullying.

His case is in arbitration and MRU told PKBNEWS the matter remains confidential.


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Widdowson was invited by a professor at the University of Lethbridge to give a class lecture on revival, sparking controversy among students and faculty.

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A statement from University of L president Mike Mahon last week defended academic freedom and ensured that Widdowson’s ideologies did not align with the university.

Frances first met PKBNEWS early Monday morning as the conference was still scheduled.

“I’m very grateful that people won’t cancel the discussion, which the president is very keen not to cancel,” Widdowson said. “I think it’s a huge win that it happened because there would have been other instances where it would have been overturned.”

But at the end of the morning, the university canceled his speech.

The U of L has released the following updated statement:

“Today I write with an important update to the statement I issued on Thursday regarding a controversial speaker, invited by one of our professors, to deliver a lecture on campus,” the president said. and Vice Chancellor Mike Mahon. “You can read that statement here.

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“In this statement, I spoke of the value and necessity of freedom of expression and our strong commitment to it. But above all, I pointed out that there are limits to freedom of expression. In assessing these boundaries, the university must be mindful of the safety of our diverse community.

“Over the past few days, and after learning of this conference, we have sought advice from individuals with considerable cultural, academic, industry and legal expertise, including ongoing advice from the Vice-Rector of Indigenous Relations and others. We have also received considerable contributions from the communities we serve – internal and external. This contribution confirmed that claims that seek to downplay the significant and detrimental impact of Canada’s residential school system are detrimental.

“In 2019, the university developed a statement that guaranteed a commitment to free expression on our campus. Our statement recognizes that the university must be able to reasonably regulate the use of facilities, time, place and mode of expression.

“To ensure the safety of our community, as part of this scheduled conference, the university will not be providing space for this public conference to occur on campus.


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“The Blackfoot name of our university is Iniskim, which means Sacred Buffalo Stone. We are committed to responding to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada. It is clear that the evil associated with this discourse is an obstacle to meaningful reconciliation.

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“Indigenous peoples have played and continue to play an undeniably instrumental role in shaping the University of Lethbridge as we know it today. An ongoing commitment to providing a safe place for our diverse community, including our faculty, staff and most importantly our students, is essential to enabling all of us to contribute to the evolution and growth of the University of Lethbridge.” , the statement concludes.

Widdowson said his theories don’t deny the wrongdoings of residential schools and spoke to PKBNEWS again after the cancellation.

“The worst thing that happens here is that the indigenous people are being given a very bad service because they are told that they are so fragile that they cannot engage in arguments with which they are not disagree,” Widdowson said.

Frances later announced in a Facebook post that she would be presenting her talk in the U-hall atrium instead.

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“I’m not going to back down; I’ll fight until the end,” Widdowson said.

The U of L told PKBNEWS late Monday afternoon that it was not yet able to comment on Widdowson’s plan to move forward with his conference.

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