A judge of Indian origin, Mahmud Jamal, became the first non-white person to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in its 146-year history, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.
“I am confident that Judge Jamal, with his vast experience in the legal and academic communities and his dedication to serving others, will be a valuable asset to the highest court in our country,” Trudeau said in a statement. He vowed to fight widespread racism in Canadian institutions.
A graduate of Yale University in the United States, Jamal practiced law for nearly a quarter of a century in Canada, arguing 35 times before the Supreme Court on a wide range of issues. He was a judge on the Ontario Court of Appeal since 2019.
Bilingual (English and French), he has also taught constitutional law at McGill University in Montreal and administrative law at Osgoode Hall School of Law in Toronto. Born in Nairobi (Kenya) in 1967 into a family originally from India, Judge Jamal emigrated with his family to the United Kingdom in 1969 and to Canada in 1981.
In his candidacy for the Supreme Court, he claimed that as a child he had been “teased and harassed” because of his name, religion and skin color. “At school I was educated in the Christian religion by reciting the Our Father and incorporating the values of the Church of England.
At home, I was educated as a Muslim by memorizing the Arabic prayers of the Koran and living in the Ismaili community,” he wrote. “Like many other people, I was discriminated against on a daily basis,” he added. Jamal will replace Rosalie Silberman Abella, who is retiring from the Supreme Court.