In the midst of the country’s reconciliation process with its Indigenous peoples, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Indigenous Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin to the Supreme Court on Friday.
A member of the Odanak First Nation in Quebec, O’Bonsawin has served on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice since 2017. “I am pleased to announce O’Bonsawin’s appointment to the Supreme Court, a recognized body around the world for its strength, excellence and independence,” said Trudeau.
O’Bonsawin has specialized in several areas during his career, including mental health and human rights. “As an Indigenous woman growing up in Northern Ontario, I realized the need for people dedicated to strengthening their voices to represent those who cannot speak for themselves,” she wrote. in his application letter published by the government.
A non-binding procedure must be held at the end of August in Parliament before the judge takes over. In 2021, Mahmud Jamal became the first non-white appointed to the High Court.
In recent years, Canada has relived a dark chapter of its past: the abuse and death of Indigenous children sent to Catholic residential schools between the late 19th century and the 1990s.
During this period, the government sent about 150,000 children to 139 of these schools. Miners were separated from their family, language and culture in an attempt to change their identity. Many suffered physical and sexual abuse, and thousands are estimated to have died of disease, malnutrition and neglect.
During a visit to Canada last month, Pope Francis met with residential school survivors and apologized for the abuses, which he said amounted to genocide.
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