January 12, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA, ON – The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) congratulates Justice Ardith (Walpetko We’dalx) Walkem on her appointment to the British Columbia Supreme Court. Justice Walkem is a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation who has practiced in the areas of Aboriginal and Indigenous law since she was called to the Bar in 1996. She is the first Indigenous woman appointed to the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Over the course of her career, Justice Walkem has consistently championed the legal rights of Indigenous Peoples. She articled with Mandell Pinder, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and McDonald and Associates before being called to the Bar in 1996. For eighteen years, she has been the owner and partner at Cedar and Sage Law, where she has represented her clients at all levels of court, including at the Supreme Court of Canada as part of the legal team in R. v. Morris.
Justice Walkem has a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University (Major Political Science, Minor Women’s Studies); Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Laws from the University of British Columbia, where she focused on Indigenous laws. In addition, she has taught at the UBC Faculty of Law.
Her legal advocacy has focused on the recognition of Indigenous laws, including in the areas of child and family wellness (finding ways to reassert and reclaim Indigenous laws in this area) and also exploring laws about land and resource use.
Justice Walkem embodies the Indigenous laws and principles she carries and is an inspiration to Indigenous Peoples. Her deep knowledge and lived experiences will bring a much-needed Indigenous perspective to the judiciary. The Indigenous Bar Association has long advocated for representation of Indigenous voices at all levels of court, partly because it is important for Indigenous Peoples to see themselves represented in the judiciary, but also because a greater understanding of Indigenous law is critical to achieving justice for Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Bar Association President Drew Lafond indicated, “Justice Walkem’s tireless advocacy for and on behalf of Indigenous peoples in Canada has inspired many young Indigenous people to become lawyers and to take up the cause of upholding and embracing Indigenous values and customary laws and putting them into practice. Justice Walkem has taught me many lessons when it comes to private practice and her message that we as Indigenous lawyers are here for the community, and not our careers, continues to resonate with me today.”
The Indigenous Bar Association congratulates Justice Walkem on this momentous occasion.
For further inquiries, please contact IBA President Drew Lafond (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.indigenousbar.ca.