WINNIPEG: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased that the University of Winnipeg has reversed its decision to suspend a student from its Education program because she had attended a single outdoor protest.
The student, represented by the Justice Centre, had an exemplary academic record and excellent reviews for her interpersonal and teaching skills. Her identity is not being disclosed, but she is noted as a kind and compassionate person, and is motivated to support and advocate for others experiencing suffering and hardship. It is this compassion that motivated the student 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 causing severe hardship to many Manitobans.
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 9, 2021, the University of Winnipeg sent the student a letter informing her that she would be forced to sit out the 2021/2022 academic year and would not be permitted to register for Education courses or practicum during that time. The University stated it would only re-consider whether to permit the student to re-enrol in the Education program in 2022.
On June 30, 2021, Justice Centre Staff Lawyer Allison Pejovic sent an appeal letter to the University of Winnipeg demanding that the student be reinstated, or legal action would be commenced. The appeal was supported by a letter from an infectious disease specialist, which concluded that “[t]he risk of outdoor transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at outdoor protests is negligible”.
“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.”