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

Victoria police are looking for missing woman Dana Frazer, 54, who is driving a blue 2016 Nissan Frontier pickup truck. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seeking high-risk, missing woman driving blue truck

Dana Frazer, 54, is driving a blue 2016 Nissan Frontier

(File - Sooke News Mirror)
Man exposes himself to woman, children on Sooke trail

Suspect believed to be between 55 and 65 years of age

Forty-two residential properties in Oak Bay were assessed the speculation and vacancy tax in 2019 for a total of $693,000. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
74 Oak Bay property owners paid $693,000 in spec tax

42 properties were assessed with the SVT in 2019

Patrick MacMullan won $28,000 playing Toto. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Greater Victoria man wins $28,000 while watching football

Winning ticket purchased at Colwood convenience store

(Pixabay photo)
Emergency repairs underway on Phillips Road in Sooke

Sewage may have entered DeMamiel Creek and Sooke River

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)
Vancouver Island egg producer cries foul over ‘Island’ label

Egg farmer frustrated with regulations allowing mainland-laid eggs to be labelled ‘Island’

Most Read