by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Senator Murray Sinclair, the first Indigenous judge to serve on the bench in Manitoba and only the second Indigenous judge appointed in Canada, has announced that he will officially leave the Red Chamber on Jan. 31, 2021.
He was appointed to the Senate on April 2, 2016 and has been working in the justice system in Manitoba for more than 25 years, serving as the co-chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba and as chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Since working on the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission], we have seen a shift in how our country understands and speaks of residential schools and Indigenous issues in Canada,” Sinclair said in a media statement.
“I leave the Senate feeling happy with how things are progressing and knowing that reconciliation will take a long time. I will continue to work on this for the rest of my life.”
“My tenure as senator has been a remarkable opportunity to serve the people of Manitoba, which I have striven to do with pride and humility for the last five years,” Sinclair wrote in a letter to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette last week.
In an interview with CBC radio, Sinclair said of his decision to focus his time on writing his memoir that, “The year before my granddaughter was born, I had suffered a minor stroke.”
“It took about a year to get back to normal,” continued Sinclair. “When she was born, I was visiting with her and with her parents and I remember thinking that I may not be around when she grows up. My granddaughter may have questions that only I can answer. She doesn’t know my family — my grandmother, my grandfather, my father — or where we came from. I decided I was going to start writing things down for her.”
Sinclair has already announced a significant book deal with McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. The book will be titled Who We Are, and it will look at his vision for reconciliation in Canada and how his experiences and the experiences of his family have shaped his perspective on the matter.
The Senator also revealed that he will be joining Cochrane Saxberg LLP, which is Manitoba’s largest Indigenous law firm, in order to mentor up-and-coming Indigenous lawyers.
“The challenge of the courts is going to be to figure out a way to reconcile the current laws of Canada with the pre-existing legal rights of Indigenous Peoples,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press.
“Everybody’s now scrambling to figure all this out.”
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said, “To my friend, Senator Murray Sinclair (@SenSincmurr), thank you for your service to Canada. With your retirement announced today, I know that you’ll go on to do great things. Thank you for being a beacon of hope for First Nations and a champion for humanity.”