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The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada is Thrilled to Congratulate the First Indigenous Person Nominated to the Supreme Court of Canada

Press Release

OTTAWA, ON – The members of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) are pleased to give our inspired congratulations to the Honourable Madam Michelle O’Bonsawin on becoming the first Indigenous person nominated to the Supreme Court of Canada (the “SCC”).

Justice O’Bonsawin is active in the Indigenous and legal communities and is a long-standing supporter of the IBA. Justice O’Bonsawin brings to the SCC an incredible wealth of knowledge relating to Indigenous matters, such as a dedication to the mental health of Indigenous peoples, a deep understanding of Gladue principles in criminal law, and a passion for access to justice, amongst other excellent contributions. She is a highly sought after public speaker, which demonstrates the demand for her knowledge and her tireless commitment to education and on-going involvement in the legal community. She provides a respected example of integrity, work ethic, and clarity of judgment.

The IBA continues to advocate for the appointment of Indigenous Judges at all levels of Courts in Canada. We offer our sincere thank you to David Nahwegahbow, who was appointed to the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments. The IBA nominated Mr. Nahwegahbow to hold the seat as one of eight members who provided non-binding, merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minster on SCC appointments. The IBA wishes to recognize his hard work serving the Advisory Board.

The members of the IBA are looking forward to the historic changes that will come from the appointment of Justice O’Bonsawin in the years to come. Historically, despite Indigenous SCC justice candidates making significant contributions to Canada’s legal systems, they are often systemically excluded or dismissed from the process due to internalized and institutional racism. There have been many calls to include Indigenous peoples more broadly in the legal system, such as the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Today, those calls have been answered and it is an exciting, monumental day for Indigenous nations across the country.

We commend the appointment of an Indigenous person to the SCC which will take strong and necessary steps towards a more fair and balanced application of Indigenous law in our legal system.

As a multi-juridical country, there is finally a judiciary that is reflective of Canada’s legal traditions and the unique place Indigenous peoples have within Canada.

The announcement serves as a moment in history for those who have come before us and relentlessly advocated for this moment. Collectively, we celebrate today and the official announcement of the first Indigenous person to the Supreme Court of Canada. We wish a deep and sincere congratulations to the Honourable Madam Michelle O’Bonsawin.

The IBA is a national association comprised of Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) lawyers, legal academics, Elders, articling, and law students. The IBA is mandated, amongst other things, to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada, and the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.

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