Murray Sinclair’s Ojibway name is Mi-zhana-Gheezhik – The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky. He is a member of the Three Fires Society, and a Second Degree Member of the Midewiwin (Grand Medicine) Society of the Ojibway. In 1979, he graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba, was called to the bar in 1980 and became Manitoba’s first Aboriginal judge in 1988. His ability to balance a successful career in the Canadian legal and judicial system, while at the same time maintain a reverence for the traditional teachings of the Ojibway people, has earned him respect in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worlds.
Judge Sinclair was raised on the former St. Peter’s Indian Reserve north of Selkirk, Manitoba, by his grandparents. He graduated from Selkirk Collegiate, and was the Valedictorian and Athlete of the Year in his senior year.
During the course of his legal practice, he focused primarily in the fields of Civil and Criminal Litigation and Aboriginal Law. He was known throughout Manitoba for his representation of Aboriginal people and Aboriginal legal issues, and represented Indian bands, Aboriginal child and welfare agencies, Friendship Centres, Métis organizations and Aboriginal corporations. He also acted as legal council for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission in discrimination cases.
Judge Sinclair has taught courses in Aboriginal People and Law at the University of Manitoba since 1981. He lectures frequently throughout Canada on issues concerning Aboriginal rights, culture and the administration of justice.
Judge Sinclair and his wife Katherine established the Abinochi Zhawayndakozhuwin Inc., an OjibwayImmersionNursery School program in Winnipeg, which delivers an educational program completely in Ojibway.
In 1988, he became the first Aboriginal Associate Chief Justice in Manitoba, and the second Aboriginal judge in Canada. In 1988 he served as the Co-commissioner of the Public Inquiry into the Administration of Justice and Aboriginal Peoples of Manitoba.
Judge Sinclair has served as the former chair of the Jemima Centre for the Handicapped, chair of the Selkirk Friendship Centre, and vice-chair of the Canadian Lawyers Association. He was a founding member of the Prairie Indian Cultural Society.