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

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms first death from COVID-19

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Christopher Anthony Craig Dick is wanted by the Port Alberni RCMP in connection to multiple investigations. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Vancouver Island RCMP seek man connected to assault investigations

Christopher Dick, 36, was recently in the North Cowichan and Duncan region

The Farm Table Inn is one of almost two dozen local restaurants and beverage producers participating in Tourism Cowichan’s “Sip, Savour, Support Cowichan” campaign. Pictured are owners George gates and Evelyn Koops. (Alec Wheeler photo)
Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read