Indian-Origin Sikh Woman Is First Turbaned Judge In Canada Supreme Court

Palbinder Kaur Shergill

An Indian-origin Sikh became the first turbaned woman to hold a chair in the judiciary in Canada, the World Sikh Organisation (WSO) of Canada said, Voice Online reported. Human rights advocate Palbinder Kaur Shergill has been appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in New Westminster.

Spreading much cheer to the world, especially for Indians, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the appointment on Friday, June 23, under the new judicial application process announced on October 20 last year.

WSO president Mukhbir Singh said: “The appointment of Justice Shergill is another milestone for the Sikh community in Canada. It is a matter of great pride that today we have the first turbaned Sikh appointed to the judiciary in Canada.”

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Justice Shergill has replaced Justice EA Arnold-Bailey, who retired on May 31, the report said.

Shergill was just 4 years old when she migrated from Punjab to Canada with her family.

Shergill has been an active worker in helping shape human rights and religious accommodation law in Canada through her pro bono work as General Legal Counsel for the World Sikh Organisation of Canada. Her prominence in the field earned her the recent position.

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“Prior to her appointment to the bench, Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator with her law firm, Shergill and Company, Trial Lawyers. She has extensive trial and appellate experience and has appeared before courts and tribunals across Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Shergill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service,” said the introduction released by the minister.

Shergill pursued law from the University of Saskatchewan. The British Columbia Bar welcomed her in 1991. She was involved with the Cabinet of Canadians, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the Canadian Bar Association.

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“Justice Shergill represented the WSO and the interests of the Canadian Sikh community in several landmark cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, including Syndicat Northcrest v Amselem, dealing with freedom of religion, Multani v Commission Scolaire, dealing with right of Sikh students to wear the kirpan in schools and Loyola High School versus Quebec (Attorney General) with respect to the right of a Catholic high school to teach the provincial Ethics and Religious Culture course from a Catholic perspective,” WSO said.

Shergill is fond of the tabla and harmonium, and is now breaking her way into acquiring a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and known for her stellar work as a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service. Shergill lives in Surrey with her husband, daughter and twin sons.