Justin Trudeau has appointed the first judge of color to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada, a historic first for an institution that has had only white judges in 146 years.

Mahmud Jamal, who has served as a judge at the Ontario Court of Appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals covering a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.

“He will be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that is why today I am announcing his historic appointment to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

Trudeau has often said that it is necessary to combat systemic racism in Canada.

Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, my religion or the color of my skin”.

In 1981, the family moved to Edmonton, where “their experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities and racialized people,” he said in a paper submitted in support of his candidacy. .

“I was brought up in school as a Christian, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and absorbing the values ​​of the Church of England, and at home as a Muslim, memorizing the Arabic prayers from the Quran and living in the within the Ismaili community, ”he wrote.

“Like many others, I have experienced discrimination as a fact of everyday life. As a child and teenager, I was taunted and harassed because of my name, my religion or the color of my skin.

He then converted to the Baha’i Faith after marrying his wife, who immigrated to Canada from Iran.

Canada is a multicultural country, with over 22% of the population made up of minorities and 5% of indigenous people, according to the latest census.

“We know that people face systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every day,” Trudeau said last year.

Jamal will replace Judge Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person tribunal on July 1.

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