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Madam Justice Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay

Law & Justice (2022)

Alexander First Nation, AB

“I wanted to make a difference, to have my voice heard on judgements I write…I’m hoping that when people come into the courtroom and see an Indigenous judge, they don’t feel like an outsider.”

Throughout her career, Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay has striven to ensure that the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples are protected and respected, being a voice for Indigenous children and families. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a BA in political science and an LLB, she created her own law firm and began practicing in the areas of child welfare and Indigenous justice. She is currently completing her Masters of Law in Dispute Resolution at Osgoode Hall Law School. She was the first Cree woman from Treaty 6 Alberta to be appointed to the Provincial Court of Alberta in November 2018. As a Provincial Court Judge (PCJ), she presided over criminal, family and civil matters. She introduced healing circles in family law matters and judge-led case conferences in child protection matters while a PCJ. During her tenure as a PCJ, she was a member of the Indigenous Justice Committee, Alberta Provincial Judges Association (“APJA”) and a memaber of the CAPCJ (Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges) Indigenous Justice Committee as the APJA Member. Mentorship is also important to Justice Arcand-Kootenay, and continues to be important. She has mentored lawyers in child protection and Indigenous law students at the Faculty of Law, University of Alberta. In May 2021, Justice Arcand-Kootenay was elevated to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. She was the first Treaty person in Alberta to be appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta. In this new role, she continues to advocate for culturally respectful access to justice for Indigenous people and families.