Student reinstated after University of Winnipeg had kicked her out for attending peaceful outdoor protest

A student of the Education Program at the University of Winnipeg (whose identity will remain undisclosed) had an exemplary academic record and excellent reviews of her interpersonal and teaching skills. She was described as a kind and compassionate person who was motivated to support and advocate for those experiencing suffering or hardship. It was this compassion that motivated her to attend a peaceful outdoor demonstration in Winnipeg on April 25, 2021, calling on the Government of Manitoba to ease overbroad lockdown restrictions that were harming many in Manitoba.  

On June 9, 2021, the University of Winnipeg sent the student a letter informing her that she would not be permitted to register for courses or practicums during the 2021/2022 academic year. The university stated that it would only reconsider the possibility of her re-enrollment in 2022. For exercising her Charter freedoms to attend a peaceful outdoor protest, the student was notified that she would be disciplined by the University. 

On June 30, 2021, Justice Centre staff lawyer Allison Pejovic sent an appeal letter to the University of Winnipeg, demanding that the student be re-instated. Otherwise, a legal action against the university would commence. The appeal was supported by a letterfrom an infectious disease specialist, which concluded that “[t]he risk of outdoor transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at outdoor protests is negligible”. 

Fortunately, the University of Winnipeg reversed its decision to suspend this student from her Education Program. In a letter dated August 28, 2021, the University of Winnipeg officially reinstated the student into the Faculty of Education. 

“The University of Winnipeg has a duty to respect the Charter rights of its students,” states Ms. Pejovic, who represents the student. “Expelling a student for exercising her constitutional freedoms of expression and assembly is an egregious violation of the Charter, I am pleased to see that the University has reversed its decision and avoided further unnecessary hardship on this student and legal proceedings against the University.”