Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Ontario judge Michelle O’Bonsawin to the Supreme Court of Canada, making her the first Indigenous person to sit on the country’s highest bench.
According to the Prime Minister’s office, she also became the first Indigenous woman judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa when she was appointed to that position in 2017.
Prior to that, she was General Counsel for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group for eight years.
Calling her a “widely respected” member of the Canadian legal community, Prime Minister Trudeau added in a tweet that he’s “confident that she’ll bring invaluable knowledge to our country’s highest court.”
Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin is a widely respected member of Canada’s legal community with a distinguished career. I’m confident that she’ll bring invaluable knowledge to our country’s highest court, which is why I’m announcing her nomination today: https://t.co/0WafLrHLHv— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 19, 2022
O’Bonsawin identifies as a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation, according to a biography released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The requirement for English-French bilingualism has been cited as a factor that previously complicated efforts to find Indigenous candidates for the court.
O’Bonsawin’s appointment will fill the vacancy left by Justice Michael Moldaver, who is set to retire Sept. 1.