Canada’s 1st Indigenous Supreme Court Justice; former director wins emeritus award

A newsletter from a fellow Canadian organization in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements

In This Issue:

Program News

  • Former program director Nelson Graburn named Berkeley “Emeritus of the Year”

Canadian News

  • Michelle O’Bonsawin Confirmed As Canada’s First Indigenous Supreme Court Justice

Research Opportunities

  • ACSUS Executive Council nominations & elections

Former Program Director Nelson Graburn Wins Berkeley “Emeritus of the Year” Award

Canadian Studies is proud to announce that former program director Nelson Graburn has been named Distinguished Emeritus of the Year for 2022 by the UC Berkeley Emeriti Association. The award recognizes exceptional accomplishment by an emeritus faculty member since retirement. He will be honored at a reception hosted by the Emeriti Association early next month.

Professor Graburn is a professor emeritus of anthropology who has taught at Berkeley since 1964. He is an expert on Inuit culture and arts, and conducted his fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic. He joined the Canadian Studies Program shortly after its founding, and became a co-director in 1986. In 2005, he was appointed the inaugural holder of the Thomas Garden Barnes Chair in Canadian Studies, and served as program director until his retirement in 2012.

Professor Graburn’s current interests sit at the center of cultural preservation, identity, and tourism. Although officially retired, he still teaches a seminar on “Tourism, Art and Modernity” at UC Berkeley, and co-chairs the Tourism Studies Working Group. He also continues to conduct research in the field of contemporary Inuit art. In recent years, he has expanded his research to include the study of contemporary tourism in China and Japan. He continues to travel widely as a consultant and lecturer at various institutions.


Michelle O’Bonsawin Confirmed As Canada’s First Indigenous Supreme Court Justice

Canadian judge Michelle O’Bonsawin made history this week when the Prime Minister’s office confirmed her appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. When O’Bonsawin takes her seat on Thursday, she will be the first Indigenous justice to sit on Canada’s highest court. O’Bonsawin is a fluently bilingual Franco-Ontarian, and a member of the Abenaki Odanak First Nation in Quebec.

The Prime Minister’s office described her as “widely respected”, and released a summary of her “distinguished” 20-year legal career. In 2017, O’Bonsawin became the first Indigenous woman to be appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Prior to that, she was the General Counsel for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, as well as counsel with Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She is frequently cited on Indigenous issues, and has taught Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa. Her legal work has focused on labour and employment law, mental health, and human rights. In a public statement welcoming O’Bonsawin to the court, Chief Justice Richard Wagner called the new justice a “principled, authentic and hard-working” jurist.

While O’Bonsawin says that Indigenous legal traditions will inform her perspective, she also rebuffed suspicions of partiality, telling lawmakers “I’m a judge first and an Indigenous person… afterwards.” Nevertheless, she says that her life experience and background working with disenfranchised communities are an important part of her work. She also says that she hopes to serve as an inspiration to young women, both Indigenous and not, and that her example encourages them to follow their dreams.

O’Bonsawin is Trudeau’s fifth appointment the Supreme Court. She will replace outgoing justice Michael Moldaver, who will reach the court’s mandatory retirement age of 75 in December. Some legal analysts project that her appointment will result in a significant liberalization of the court, particularly with regards to the interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Moldaver, who was tied for longest-serving member of the current court, long endorsed a relatively narrow approach to the Charter rights. At the time of his retirement in May, experts predicted that Trudeau would seek a replacement who supported a more generous interpretation and expansion of these rights. While O’Bonsawin’s background would seem to confirm this assessment, only time will tell what impact she will have on the court and Canada’s constitutional jurisprudence.


ACSUS Executive Council Nominations & Elections

Nomination deadline: September 23, 2022

The Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS) is pleased to announce that it is accepting nominations for vice-president (1 opening) and executive councillor (4 openings).

Nominations are due no later than September 23. Nominations need to: (1) include the names, institutional affiliations, and contact info of 3 current association members who have agreed to endorse any nominee; and, (2) provide a brief biographical statement outlining the nominee’s experience/background in Canadian Studies (250-300 words). All nominees will be contacted by ACSUS prior to the start of the election to confirm their candidacy to serve on the Executive Council.

Voting will commence no later than September 30, with electronic election ballots being distributed to all ACSUS members. The deadline to vote is October 15. Following the tabulation, review and certification of the election results, an announcement to ACSUS members will be disseminated by October 21.

Nominations may be submitted by email to ACSUS Secretary Amy Sotherden at, or via this form,

Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
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Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley213 Moses Hall #2308Berkeley, CA 94720

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