Trudeau nominates an indigenous woman to Canada’s supreme court | Canada

Justin Trudeau has nominated an indigenous woman to Canada’s highest court, in a landmark appointment after decades of criticism over a lack of indigenous representation on the country’s highest court.

The prime minister announced on Friday that Michelle O’Bonsawin had been selected to fill an upcoming vacancy on the court.

O’Bonsawin, an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation, has been a judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa since 2017. She has also taught law at the University of Ottawa and previously worked in legal services for the RCMP and Canada Mail.

The Franco-Ontario was chosen after the upcoming retirement of Judge Michael Moldaver.

“I am confident that Justice O’Bonsawin will bring invaluable insights and contributions to our country’s supreme court,” Trudeau said in a statement, adding that she had been selected through an “open and nonpartisan” process.

Unlike the scorched-earth hearings in the United States, where judges’ opinions come under intense scrutiny and senators often use the process to further their own political ambitions, Canada’s process is far less contentious.

Parliament’s justice committee will meet next week to hear from the justice minister and the head of the independent advisory board for judicial appointments to Canada’s supreme court. O’Bonsawin will then answer questions from the committee and the Senate.

In its application questionnaireO’Bonsawin described how her indigenous identity in Canada had shaped both her life and her legal career, including being discriminated against and teased by a young indigenous woman who grew up off the reservation.

“I think my experience as a Francophone First Nations woman, mother, lawyer, academic and judge gives me a lived understanding and insight into the diversity of Canada because I and my life experience are part of that diversity,” she said. she said she. she said.

He also highlighted the importance of dismantling stigmas surrounding mental health issues and the need for an “inclusive” and “compassionate” legal system for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

On Friday, Justice Minister David Lametti called the nomination a “historic moment” for the highest court.

For decades, indigenous groups have called for justice that represents a different way of understanding the law.

“Canada’s highest court has always been short of a person to interpret Canadian law through an indigenous lens, but not anymore,” said Elmer St Pierre, national head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, in a statement.

“Indigenous peoples have long faced discrimination, racism and prejudice in Canada’s justice system, which has led to the over-representation of our people in courts and prisons. Governments must continue to ensure that indigenous voices help create laws, interpret them and enforce them.”

O’Bonsawin’s appointment is the second landmark appointment to the court. In 2021, Trudeau selected Mahmud Jamal for the bench, making him the first person of color to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.

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