Two new judges, including the first Mi’kmaw woman to join the judiciary, have been appointed to the provincial and family court.
Catherine Benton, a lawyer with Nova Scotia Legal Aid, has become the second Mi’kmaw to serve as a judge in Nova Scotia. Ronda van der Hoek, a prosecutor and team leader with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, was also appointed to the bench today, Jan. 23, by Governor in Council on the recommendation of acting Attorney General and Minister of Justice Michel Samson.
“Ms. van der Hoek and Ms. Benton are both experienced lawyers with deep roots in their communities,” said Mr. Samson. “Their professional integrity and outstanding contributions to the practice of law and the province make them fine additions to the provincial and family court.”
Ms. Benton, from Auburndale, Lunenburg County, has been a lawyer for 22 years. She has worked as a researcher with the Union of Nova Scotia Indians and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council before getting her law degree from Dalhousie in 1993. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Tawaak Housing Association. Ms. Benton is a former board member with the Micmac Native Friendship Centre and the Mi’kmaq Justice Institute, a forerunner of the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network.
Ms. van der Hoek, from Windsor, Hants County, has been practicing law for 19 years. Before joining the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, she was a counsel with Nova Scotia Legal Aid in Windsor and Halifax. Ms. van der Hoek, a graduate of Dalhousie Law School, is also the federal co-chair of the Justice Committee of the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum.
“These appointments will further strengthen our justice system,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “It is important that Nova Scotians see themselves reflected in our institutions, and that our judges reflect the diversity of our province. Our justice system is made stronger by the different life experiences of the people who work in it.”
The provincial court presides over most indictable offence charges under the Criminal Code and has exclusive jurisdiction over all summary offence charges under provincial and federal statutes and regulations except a charge of murder by an adult.
The family court provides a forum to hear family issues, including maintenance, custody and access and child protection matters.
For more information on Nova Scotia courts, visit www.courts.ns.ca.