A look at the life and career of Justice Murray Sinclair

Two Manitobans were appointed to the Senate Friday, including former Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair.
Two Manitobans were appointed to the Senate Friday, including former Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair. The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

WINNIPEG — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommended seven new senators Friday, including two from Manitoba.

Raymonde Gagné and Justice Murray Sinclair are among the new faces named by the Liberal government.

Gagné is the former president of Université de Saint-Boniface, and Sinclair was the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sinclair has served the justice system in Manitoba for over 25 years. He was the first aboriginal judge appointed in the province, and only the second in Canada.

READ MORE: Trudeau appointing 7 new senators, including 2 Manitobans

A look at the life and career of Sinclair

Born: He was born in 1951, near Selkirk, Man. Both his parents and grandparents were sent to residential schools.

Sinclair’s mother died when he was an infant, and he was raised by his grandparents and extended family. His Ojibway name Mizanay Gheezhik, means “the One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky.”

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Education: Sinclair went to the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, graduating from the faculty of law at the University of Manitoba in 1979. He’s received honourary degrees from eight Canadian universities.

Career: He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980 and specialized in aboriginal legal issues. In 1988, he was appointed associate chief judge of the provincial court of Manitoba. He also was co-commissioner of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry the same year.

In November 2000 he led an inquest into the deaths of 12 children in the pediatric cardiac surgery program at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre.

He has served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Manitoba. He is also very active within his profession and his community, and has won numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Award and its Distinguished Service Award.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Sinclair was appointed  chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 2009. The commission’s goal was to inform the public about what happened in residential schools by documenting the stories of survivors, families and communities.

READ MORE: Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report details atrocities of residential schools

The final report was released in December 2015, six years after the commission was set up. It made 94 recommendations.

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WATCH: Justice Murray Sinclair speaks out about the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 

Family: He and wife, Katherine Morrisseau-Sinclair, have four children: Manon Beaudrie, James, Déne and Gazheek, and one granddaughter, Sarah Fontaine-Sinclair.

With files from the Canadian Press

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