Edith Campbell, the first ever female to be appointed as a resident judge to the Yukon Supreme Court, talks to media about her appointment in Whitehorse on March 15. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Canada appoints first resident woman justice to Yukon Supreme Court

Territory’s top court has three resident judges for first time since Gold Rush

For the first time since the Gold Rush, the Yukon’s Supreme Court now has a third resident judge — one who also happens to be the first woman appointed to the role, and the only resident justice who is fluent in both English and French.

Canada’s justice department announced in a press release March 15 that longtime federal prosecutor Edith Campbell has been appointed as a resident judge to the Yukon Supreme Court, joining Chief Justice Ron Veale and Justice Leigh Gower.

Speaking to media later that afternoon, Campbell said she thinks her appointment shows an acknowledgement of the importance of the francophone community and of women in Canada.

“I think it’s more a recognition that we’re a part of this country and that francophones, as other communities, are part of this country and are an important part of this country,” she said.

“It’s a recognition of (the) place of women in our society and a recognition of the fact that it’s a bonus to the authorities that we are in a position to speak two languages, both French and English.”

Born and raised in Quebec, Campbell has practiced both criminal and civil law across five provinces and two territories since 1996. She first moved to the Yukon in 2003, working as a prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada’s regional office, moving back and forth a few times before ultimately settling again in Whitehorse in 2013.

In total, Campbell said, she’s spent about 10 years practicing in the Yukon, and in that time, has also served as a trustee and vice-president of the Yukon Francophone School Board.

“One of the things that I thought was different when I came up to the Yukon was the opportunity to travel to the communities, which is not something I did when I was in Quebec or Ottawa — you usually go to the big cities, and you got to the big courthouses, whereas as a prosecutor (in the Yukon), I had the chance to travel to different communities,” she said.

“It gives you a sense of, life in the Yukon is not all about Whitehorse. There are many communities and I think that it’s important for someone to understand.”

Campbell added she applied for the position shortly after it was announced in March 2017 and that she thought becoming a judge was a natural next step in her career.

Campbell will now be travelling to Ottawa and British Columbia to complete mandatory training courses and will also be mentored in Whitehorse by Veale and Gower in areas of law she may not be familiar with. Depending on training and availability, she may start doing her own cases as soon as June.

Veale, who was also present at the media meet-and-greet, called Campbell’s appointment “really significant.”

“This is very exciting because she is the first female resident judge in the Supreme Court of Yukon in 120 years,” he said.

Veale also confirmed that having a third resident justice will “absolutely” allow to Yukon Supreme Court to get through a higher volume of cases.

“The only restraint would be (the number of) courtrooms,” he said.

The last time a new justice was added to the Yukon Supreme Court was 2003, when Gower was appointed.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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