First turbaned Indian Sikh woman 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 and also in the world. It is a matter of great pride that today we have the first turbaned Sikh appointed to the judiciary in Canada.”

With the national TV channels flashed the news of Palbinder Kaur Shergill (48) becoming thefirst turbaned (Amritdhari) Sikh woman appointed as judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in New Westminster, local residents and newsmen started making beelines in the native house of Kaur at Jagatpur village in SBS Nagar district.

The air filled with joy with villagers visiting Kaur’s house for giving congratulatory wishes to the family for making village proud.

“My brother Amritpal Singh Shergill (52), Palbinder’s husband, called me up in the morning to share this proud moment with me. The situation is like a fair in my house since morning. As our relatives and villagers are coming to greet us after they got to know that my Bhabhi (sister-in-law) Palbinder becomes the judge in Canada,” GurpreetPal Singh, brother-in-law of Shergill said.

He said that they have a joint family and the family stays in the house whenever they visit here. She had visited February last year with family.

“Shergill has brought laurels to the village. I hope her elevation as Canadian judge helps to strengthen Punjabis especially Sikhs on foreign shores,” Gurpreet, a farmer said.

The family has distributed sweets for her success. “We will organise ‘akhand path’ (chain prayers) in village Gurdwaras tomorrow to thank ‘Waheguru’ for fulfilling her dream and making the family proud,” said her aunt Joginder Kaur (62).

A human rights advocate, Justice Shergill 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 and grew up in Williams Lake, BC, and received her law degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

Her husband, Amritpal Singh Shergill, is a doctor. They live Surrey and have three children one daughter Mohenaam Kaur and twin boys Meharban Singh, Kurban Singh.

She has 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.

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