01/07/2018 10:47 EST | Updated 01/10/2018 07:05 EST

U of Calgary says a judge has apologized for comments made to students

CALGARY — A dean at the University of Calgary says a judge has apologized to a class of second-year law students for offensive comments she reportedly made.

Law school dean Ian Holloway said the school received complaints that Court of Queen's Bench Justice Kristine Eidsvik made comments that "were insensitive to racial minorities" at a Q-and-A session about judicial mediations.

CBC News reported Eidsvik told the class that she was uncomfortable walking into a room "full of big dark people."

She reportedly said that she was used to being in an "ivory tower" away from "the riff-raff."

Holloway said the "matter was addressed immediately" and the judge apologized to the class on Friday.

The text of that apology was emailed to the Canadian Press by the Court of Queen's Bench.

"Yesterday afternoon, in response to a question, I made a remark about my initial reaction walking into a JDR room that as soon as it came out of my mouth I recognized was not appropriate, and could be construed as insensitive to racial minorities," Eidsvik stated in the text.

"I am not here this morning to try and justify my comment. It was wrong and I apologize to all of you for making it. I want to express my regret for having said anything like this at all. I frankly feel sick about it," she added.

Eidsvik is the university's judge-in-residence for the 2017-2018 school year.

Her apology continued that her door is always open, both at the law school and when she returns to the courts. She said she wanted to be able to help the students connect with the court and understand its process. 

"I also want to say that in addition to helping you, I want to thank you for helping me learn from you," she told the class. "I try to be very sensitive in my job and life but I am human and clearly far from perfect. But this is no excuse."

A statement from the Court of Queen's bench acknowledged that Eidsvik's answer to a question during the presentation "has been construed as insensitive to racial minorities."

It said the court does not condone the justice's comment and that it takes the concerns expressed by the students very seriously.

"The Court has confidence that this was a matter of an unfortunate human error on the part of the justice and not reflective of her character and experience. However, it is important for the public to bring these matters to the Court's attention," the statement said.

It also said the court is committed to the education of its justices who it says "regularly undertake social context training." 

Eidsvik's biography on the University of Calgary's Faculty of Law website says she has served 10 years as a judge on the Court of Queen's Bench, where she was appointed after 23-years experience in litigation practice.