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May 19, 2022
Ottawa, ONT – The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) congratulates the seven members of the Independent Advisory Board who are responsible for identifying candidates to fill the upcoming Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) vacancy when the Honourable Michael Moldaver retires in September 2022. The IBA was pleased to, for the first time, be able to nominate a member to the Independent Advisory Board similar to how the Canadian Bar Association is able to nominate one member of the Board.
In particular, the IBA offers our deepest congratulations to IPC David Nahwegahbow (founding partner of Nahwegahbow Corbiere) and Konrad Sioui (former Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation) on their appointment and applauds the Prime Minister for choosing two Indigenous individuals to sit on this critical committee. The other members of the Independent Advisory Board include: Paulette Senior (President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation); the Honourable Louise Charron (former SCC Justice); Jacqueline Horvat (Sparks Law); Richard Jochelson (Dean of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba); and Charlene Theodore (Chief Inclusion Officer at McCarthy Tétrault).
“It is essential that Canadian courts—and in particular Canada’s highest court—begin to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society and the legal orders that make up Canada today, including common law, civil law, and Indigenous law, legal orders, and traditions” said IBA President, Drew Lafond. “We are hopeful that with the extensive expertise and diversity reflected on this Independent Advisory Board that they will recognize that Canada is, has always been, a multi-juridical country and take steps to address this longstanding gap on the Supreme Court of Canada. It’s 2022. The time is now.”
In its nearly 150-year history, the SCC has never had an Indigenous person as a jurist. The chronic absence of any Indigenous perspectives on this country’s highest court is a critical issue that demands an urgent response. With the Honourable Justice Moldaver’s retirement later this year, Canada—as a country—has a window of opportunity to correct this historical inequality and turn the tide of systemic exclusion that has persisted since the Court’s founding. The next vacancy is not anticipated until the retirement of the Honourable Justice Malcom Rowe, in 2028.
The IBA has long advocated for increased representation of Indigenous voices at all levels of court—including the SCC—in part because it is important for Indigenous Peoples to see themselves represented in the judiciary, and also because a greater understanding of Indigenous law is critical to achieving justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The continued absence of an Indigenous judge from the SCC calls into question Canada’s commitment to recognize Indigenous Peoples as full partners in the Canadian federation.
The IBA is the only national association of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students and paralegals in Canada. The IBA’s mandate includes, inter alia, advocating for the recognition of Indigenous laws, legal traditions, protocols and process; promoting the reform of policies and laws affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada; and fostering public awareness within the legal community in respect of legal and social issues of concern to Indigenous peoples in Canada.
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