Justices Edith Campbell and Ron Veale react to speeches after Campbell was sworn in as the Yukon Supreme Court’s first ever resident woman justice in Whitehorse on Thursday. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

Yukon Supreme Court’s first resident woman justice sworn in

Justice Edith Campbell is also the only resident Yukon Supreme Court judge fluent in both official languages

The Yukon Supreme Court’s first ever resident woman justice was sworn in during a largely jovial ceremony at the Whitehorse courthouse June 14.

Justice Edith Campbell said her oaths of service in both English and French before a courtroom packed with Yukon legal professionals as well as members of Campbell’s family, including her parents and her sister, who travelled from Quebec to attend, and her son.

Campbell’s spouse, Territorial Court Chief Judge Peter Chisholm, was also in attendance, sitting three seats over from her on a panel of eight supreme and territorial court judges at the front of the room, as were Yukon Commissioner Angélique Bernard and Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

Campbell’s appointment to the bench is historic on several fronts, the courtroom heard over the course of several speeches spanning the hour-long event: she is the first resident woman justice to be appointed to the Yukon Supreme Court in 120 years. Her appointment marks the first time since the Gold Rush that the Yukon Supreme Court has had three resident judges (from 1910 until now, there have only been two). She is the first francophone to be appointed to the Yukon Supreme Court and she is the only Supreme Court resident justice who can preside over matters in both English and French.

In his introduction, Veale said that Campbell is also “quite unique in the number of courtrooms in this country that she’s appeared in.” Over the course of more than two decades in law, she’s practised in the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal trial court and federal court of appeal in Ottawa, provincial courts of Prince Edward Island and Quebec, Quebec’s Superior Court and Court of Appeal, the superior courts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the Yukon territorial and supreme courts.

“I have to acknowledge that I would not be here today but for my father’s advice that I take up law in university instead of biology, which I had also applied for,” Campbell told the court.

“Much has been said since I was appointed about the fact that I am the first woman appointed as a resident judge to the Supreme Court of Yukon. I didn’t quite realize the impact of that news until a number of women, many of whom were not lawyers, came to congratulate me and told me that they saw my appointment as an important event for women as well as young girls who would now have another role model to look up to.”

Campbell added that she was also grateful that her francophone heritage and French accent “are no longer seen as a barrier, but as an asset.”

“I am well aware of the important task that lies ahead of me. I embrace it with enthusiasm but also, with a bit of apprehension,” she said in closing. “One thing I can assure you of is that I will work hard and do my best to serve my fellow Yukoners well.”

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

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