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First indigenous woman to Canada's SC

Words by Smiley Team

The Supreme Court of Canada has made history, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nominated Michelle O'Bonsawin to the court, making her the first indigenous person to serve on the court. 

“I am pleased to announce the nomination of Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is recognized worldwide for its strength, excellence, and independence,” Trudeau said. “I am confident that Justice O’Bonsawin will bring invaluable knowledge and contributions to our country’s highest court.”

She has served as a judge on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice since 2017. O'Bonsawin also holds a Ph.D. in law from the University of Ottawa. She is also bilingual, as she is Franco-Ontarian, and she is an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

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In her application questionnaire, made available by the Department of Justice, O'Bonsawin described how her experience as an Indigenous person in Canada has shaped her life and legal career.

“I believe my experience as a francophone First Nations woman, a parent, a lawyer, a scholar and a judge provide me with the lived understanding and insight into Canada's diversity because I, and my life experience, are part of that diversity,” she said.

O'Bonsawin also highlighted her interest in mental health issues.

“It is crucial that our legal system recognize and support efforts to sensitize the general public regarding mental illness via their judicial behavior and understanding as articulated in judgments,” she said.

Following the announcement, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights members will participate in a special committee hearing on August 24, 2022, to discuss the next steps in her nomination.

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