Possibility of New Indigenous Jurist at the Supreme Court

by corinnearchambault on October 29, 2017 - 9:13am

Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, announced her resignation from her position, effective December 15th, 2017. Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, re-emphasized the importance for the country to observe reconciliation between Aboriginals and other Canadians: the possibility of having an Indigenous candidate to replace Ms. McLachlin would be the perfect occasion to demonstrate the sincerity of these affirmations. After the screening process, only a small population of very well qualified Indigenous people were identified. One of the criterion, according to Trudeau, is bilingualism. Two lawyers correspond to the criteria and attract the attention by their implications in Aboriginal matter: Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and John Borrows. Last year, another spot was empty at the court, and both these people were approached and they politely refused the position. When asked a few days ago, their answers were not clear towards one side or another, which can lead us to think they might now be interested. The way Trudeau expresses his viewpoint, makes us believe Borrows is more qualified, especially in the reconciliation area because he is already implicated into a project of an Indigenous Supreme Court. Borrows is Trudeau’s favorite. According to him, he supports better the unique need of the Indigenous population in Canada.

I believe it is important to start discussing the reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. I think settlement begins with acts such as giving more importance to Indigenous cultures in Canada and privileging them for important spots in the democratic system. This will allow them to represent their populations better. I also like Borrows’ idea of implementing an Indigenous Supreme Court, which would be concentrated on values and issues specifically related to these populations. The people put in place in the system will also have better understanding of the causes and consequences of social disparities and struggles of their communities. I believe this issue has become important to me when I realized how the concept of white privilege applied to me. As a person, I always supported equality and justice, but I had never really understood that I am advantaged. This semester, I am taking a class called “The myths of races and the reality of racism” and I learned that white privilege is like a backpack filled with benefits that help lighter skinned people go through life. On many cases they do not even realize that they are wearing this backpack that makes their life easier. This new knowledge made me ask myself some questions about how my skin color could have helped me: job interviews, not being looked at in a store to make sure I do not steal, etc. Then, it reinforced my social justice fiber and made me want to inform people even more about racism and its impact on diverse groups. This is why this article spoke to me. I think the idea of privileging Indigenous scholars to have important jobs is a way to help reduce the disparities and the impacts of white privilege. Especially on this topic it is hard to concretely do something, but I do believe change starts with people understanding and changing. My conscience on the subject has increased and I intend to take action whenever I can. Do you believe white privilege has helped you or has it caused harm throughout your life?

Fine, Sean. “Hope for Indigenous Supreme Court justice swells as appointment recommendations loom.” Globe and Mails, October 22nd, 2017, https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/hope-for-indigenous-supre... 36686760/. Accessed October 23rd, 2017.