Ardith (Walpetko We’dalx) Walkem is the firest Indigenous woman to be appointed a BC Supreme Court Justice, an announcement made in December 2020. (Cedar & Sage Law Corporation photo - cedarandsagelaw.com)

Ardith (Walpetko We’dalx) Walkem is the firest Indigenous woman to be appointed a BC Supreme Court Justice, an announcement made in December 2020. (Cedar & Sage Law Corporation photo - cedarandsagelaw.com)

Ardith Walkem the first Indigenous woman named a Justice on the BC Supreme Court

‘We celebrate with Ardith this tremendous achievement’ – UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

The appointment of an Indigenous woman as judge to the BC Supreme Court was heralded with best wishes and hearty congratulations Tuesday from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

The contributions of Ardith (Walpetko We’dalx) Walkem, as the organization’s legal counsel, as well with member nations over three decades, have been “immeasurable,” according to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).

Phillip cited Walkem’s “legal rigour, brilliant mind, warm sense of humour, and principled commitment” to Indigenous people and “to full and fair enactment” of Indigenous title and rights.

He predicted she‘ll stand out as “a shining light of justice” in her new role as a BC Supreme Court Justice, Phillip said in Dec. 15 release from the union of chiefs.

“We celebrate with Ardith this tremendous achievement, recognizing that her appointment makes her the first First Nations woman in this role in British Columbia.”

Walkem grew up in Spences Bridge, B.C., and is a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. She articled with Mandell Pinder, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and McDonald and Associates before being called to the Bar in 1996.

Walkem is owner and partner at Cedar and Sage Law. She holds a bachelor of arts from McGill University and bachelor of laws and master of laws degrees from the University of British Columbia, where she has taught in the faculty of law.

“Ardith is a brave and bold thinker who challenges those around her to understand the law and different legal traditions in innovative, transformative ways,” according to Chief Don Tom, UBCIC vice-president. “Her research, work, and teaching have often focused extensively on the application and elevation of Indigenous laws, including in areas of child welfare and specific claims, and have undoubtedly changed the field.”

As the organization’s legal counsel, she was involved in overseeing electoral processes and council work of the union for more than 20 years.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, union secretary-treasurer, described the recently appointed Walkem as a “leader in reconciliation initiatives,” citing work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission advisory committees of the Law Society of BC and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC.

“In her new role, Madam Justice Walkem will be a formidable force for justice. We are proud to call her our friend and we wish her all the best in the work ahead.

“On behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are honoured and thrilled to celebrate Ardith’s successes today.”

READ MORE: Justice reform for Indigenous people

RELATED: Grand chief at 21 years of service

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Supreme Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This image shows the Kitsumkalum community hall. The First Nation is about to head to the polls to elect a new council. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)
All-candidates forum planned for Kitsumkalum election

Virtual meeting set for evening of Feb. 8

Kitselas First Nation received a round of COVID-19 vaccine shots. (Kitselas First Nation image)
Kitselas receives COVID-19 vaccine

Delivery of vaccine was expedited after cluster of cases in community

Northern Health has issued COVID-19 exposure notices for Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School in Terrace. (COVID-19/ CDC Image)
Two more COVID-19 exposure notices issued for schools in Terrace

Exposures took place at Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read