Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday nominated Judge Michelle O’Bonsawin to the Supreme Court of Canada, who will become the first indigenous person to hold a seat on the high court.
Born in Hanmer, Ontario, O’Bonsawin belongs to the Abenaki people of Odanak and is bilingual in French and English, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
In a questionnaire that she had to answer to be nominated, O’Bonsawin explained that the fact that she is a woman from an indigenous people made her realize “the need to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.”
The nominee has been a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice since 2017, and she has experience in mental health, employment law, human rights and privacy rights.
She has also researched the Glaude principle, a report that a Canadian court may request before sentencing an Aboriginal person.
O’Bonsawin, who has a JD from the University of Ottawa, has worked in the legal services of the Canadian Mounted Police and the public postal company Canada Post.
“I am pleased to announce the nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada of Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin, who is recognized worldwide for her strength, excellence and independence,” Trudeau said in a statement.
The judge was nominated to replace Michael Moldaver in the High Court of Canada, who has been part of the high court since 2011 and will retire on September 1, 2022.
Canada’s highest court has nine judges, including the Chief Justice.
Its members are chosen by the Government of Canada from a list drawn up by an independent committee, and subsequently ratified by the Governor General.