Faculty celebrates the arrival of Supreme Court Justice Mary T. Moreau

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Ceremonies and events

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

classroom full of people with 3 students and 1 judge seated at the front of the room
In keeping with a uOttawa tradition, the Faculty of Law held a Welcoming Ceremony on March 13 in honour of the Honourable Mary T. Moreau, the newest justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Over 250 people gathered for the special occasion, including judges, faculty members, staff and students. The event began with a ceremony of purification, or smudging, performed by Gilbert Whiteduck, Indigenous Knowledge Holder for the Common Law Section. Speeches by the Deans of the Faculty were followed by a discussion with Justice Moreau moderated by three student association representatives: Justine Grenier, President of the Association des étudiantes et étudiants en droit civil d’Ottawa (AED), Natasha Gosselin, VP Social of the Common Law Student Society (AÉCLSS) and Ben Surmachynski, of the Indigenous Law Student Governance (ILSG).

three students in interview with supreme court justice the Honourable Mary Moreau
L-R: Ben Surmachynski (ILSG), Natasha Gosselin (AÉCLSS), Justine Grenier (AED) and The Honourable Justice Moreau. .

"Our Faculty maintains close and privileged ties with the Supreme Court, both because of its geographical proximity and because of the importance it places on bilingualism and Canada's different legal traditions," Marie-Eve Sylvestre, Dean of the Civil Law Section, said in her speech. "We cherish and appreciate our relationship with each of its judges, who regularly come to speak, participate in our activities and, above all, inspire our students."

In fact, six of the nine justices of the top court attended the ceremony.

For the past 20 years, the Faculty has organized a ceremony in honour of each newly appointed judge to the Supreme Court of Canada. "I'm delighted to continue this long-standing tradition of honouring newly appointed judges to the Supreme Court of Canada," said Chief Justice Richard Wagner, a graduate of the Civil Law Section. "This unique ceremony also serves to bring the Court closer to the academic community."

The Deans of the Faculty of law with the Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada
Faculty of Law Deans, Marie-Eve Sylvestre and Kristen Boon with Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Judge Moreau thanked both sections of the Faculty for their warm welcome. "I very much enjoyed the experience of speaking with the students during the ceremony and at the reception, and I look forward to participating in the programs and activities of both sections in the future."


An inspiring defence of French

Kristen Boon, the Susan & Perry Dellelce Dean of the Common Law Section, noted in her speech the bilingualism of Justice Moreau, whose mother was English-speaking and whose father came from a French-speaking community in Saskatchewan. The Albertan jurist’s career has been marked by defending the rights of the French-speaking minority, arguing two language rights cases before the SCC. Justice Moreau was also co-founder of the Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta (AJEFA).

"Here at the Faculty of Law, where we teach common law in both French and English, her trajectory is a source of inspiration," noted Dean Boon. "The presence of a francophone from Western Canada on the Supreme Court is extremely important for francophones across the country."


Mary T. Moreau became a judge at the age of 38 - after only 14 years in practice - when she was appointed to the Alberta Court of King's Bench in 1994. In 2017, she became the first French-speaking woman to be appointed Chief Justice of that court, a position she would hold until her appointment to the Supreme Court.

Justice Moreau’s appointment marks an important moment in the history of the country’s highest court: for the first time the Supreme Court of Canada has a majority of women on the bench.