St. Paul Getting a New Judge

The Alberta government have filled a bench vacancy by appointing a new judge in St. Paul.

Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay was appointed to St. Paul Provincial Court Tuesday to “ensure more timely and representative access to justice.”

Arcand-Kootenay is the third Indigenous judge appointed in the last three years by the provincial government, and has 25 years of experience.

Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, said this was an important addition to the Provincial Court.

“A more representative judiciary means all Albertans benefit from a greater diversity of experience on the bench. Albertans deserve to see themselves reflected in the people who provide justice in their community.”

Arcand-Kootenay’s appointment was done alongside two other female judges who will preside in Edmonton Criminal and Medicine Hat, Melanie Hayes-Richards, and Michelle Christopher, respectively.

The appointments will fill vacancies in each court location.

The press release stated that in addition to ensuring the judiciary better represents the population they serve,  the new judges will hear more cases and increase Albertans’ access to justice services.

“Every day, we hear from women in our programs about how difficult their courtroom experiences can be – and their struggle to convey the seriousness of the violence they and their children experience. With the government’s new funding for victims of crime, we are improving how vulnerable populations are treated and seen in the courtroom and, with this historic appointment, we are also providing role models that have never existed in our community before,” said Natasha Carvalho, executive director, Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society.

Arcand-Kootenay became a member of the Alberta bar in 1993. She’s spent much of her legal career in the areas of family and aboriginal law, including as a roster lawyer for the Legal Representation for Children and Youth branch of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and legal counsel for AKO Child and Family Services, a delegated First Nation agency in Maskwacis.

Of the 27 provincial court judges the Government of Alberta has appointed since 2015, more than half are women, in hopes to “reflect Alberta’s diversity.”

The Alberta Judicial Council screens candidates for provincial court appointments. The Provincial Court Nominating Committee (PCNC) then interviews candidates. The committee provides its recommendations to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.