Palbinder Kaur Shergill becomes first turbaned Sikh woman to be appointed as SC judge in Canada
Palbinder Kaur Shergill is the first turbaned (amritdhari) Sikh woman to be appointed judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in New Westminster.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, announced the appointment on Friday under the new judicial application process announced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasises on transparency, merit, and diversity. The appointment was made with immediate effect as Justice Shergill replaces Justice EA Arnold-Bailey, who retired on May 31.
A human rights advocate, Justice Shergill represented the interests of the Canadian Sikh community in several cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, including the one dealing with the right of Sikh students to wear the kirpan (ceremonial dagger) in schools.
Welcoming the decision, World Sikh Organisation 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.”
She was born at Rurka Kalan in Jalandhar district and married into a family from Jagatpur village in neighbouring Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr). She immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of four. She grew up in Williams Lake, BC, and received her law degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
A news release by the department of justice, Canada, said that prior to her appointment to the bench, Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator with her law firm, Shergill & Company, Trial Lawyers.
She lives in Surrey with her husband, daughter, and twin sons.
Justice Shergill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service.
Called to the British Columbia Bar in 1991, she has held leadership positions both within and outside the legal community. She has been involved with the Cabinet of Canadians, the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, and the Canadian Bar Association. From 2002 to 2008, Justice Shergill served on the Board of Directors of the Fraser Health Authority, the largest health region in the province.
She volunteers as a high school debate coach, plays the tabla and harmonium, and is kicking her way towards a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She is fluent in English and Punjabi, has a conversational knowledge of Hindi, and is aspiring towards fluency in French.