Sikh woman becomes first turbaned judge in Canada Supreme Court

OTTAWA – British Columbia Supreme Court judge of Indian-origin, Parbinder Kaur Shergill, has become first turbaned Sikh woman Supreme Court judge of Canada.

Shergill migrated from Punjab to Canada with her family when she was four years old.

Her appointment was announced along with two other judges by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, under the new judicial application process. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

Known as a prominent human rights lawyer in Canada, Shergill was instrumental in helping shape human rights and religious accommodation law in Canada through her pro bono work as General Legal Counsel for the World Sikh Organisation of Canada.

“Prior to her appointment to the bench, Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator with her law firm, Shergill and Company, Trial Lawyers. She has extensive trial and appellate experience and has appeared before courts and tribunals across Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Shergill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service,” said the introduction released by the minister.

Shergill grew up in Williams Lake, British Columbia, and received her degree in law from the University of Saskatchewan. Called to the British Columbia Bar in 1991, she held leadership positions both within and outside the legal community. She was involved with the Cabinet of Canadians, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the Canadian Bar Association.

She also volunteers as a high school debate coach, plays the tabla and harmonium, and is kicking her way towards a black belt in taekwondo. She is fluent in English and Punjabi, has a conversational knowledge of Hindi, and is aspiring fluency in French. She lives in Surrey with her husband, daughter, and twin sons.