Diversity on the Bench 2022 

May 12, 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022 at 5:00pm - 6:30pm (PT)


The case for diversity in applications to the judiciary and on the bench is strong. Diversity benefits, not only particular judgments, but also public perception of the judiciary and the law.

Learn about the day-to-day activities of a judge in Provincial and Supreme Courts, what to consider when applying to the Bench, and how applications are evaluated. Through this event, you will have an opportunity to consider more deeply your own practices and aspirations. 

Our panelists are:
  • The Honourable Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie, Provincial Court of British Columbia
  • The Honourable Justice David C. Harris, Court of Appeal for British Columbia
  • The Honourable Madam Justice Ardith Walkem, Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • The Honourable Madam Justice Sandra Wilkinson, Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • The Honourable Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill, Supreme Court of British Columbiai

To register for this event as a non-member, please fill out the following form: REGISTRATION FORM
Please email the completed form to events@cbabc.org by May 10.

Members can register at the link at the top-right of this page.


The Honourable Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie, Provincial Court of British Columbia 
Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie received her law degree from the University of Toronto, called to the BC Bar in 1991, and appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2009. Chief Judge Gillespie was sworn in as a Provincial Court judge in 2012, and in addition to sitting assignments, was active in delivering education programs to Judiciary members, as well as to the legal community. She also served as a member of the executive of the BC Provincial Court Judges Association.

Chief Judge Gillespie was appointed an Associate Chief Judge for a two year term in 2016 and re-appointed for a three year term in 2018. A member of the Board of Directors of the Justice Education Society, she has participated in a Justice Education Society project to strengthen the criminal justice system in Guyana. 

She was appointed Acting Chief Judge on May 7, 2018 and appointed Chief Judge on October 19, 2018.

The Honourable Justice David C. Harris, Court of Appeal for British Columbia 
Justice David Harris practiced civil litigation before his appointment to the Supreme Court in 2010. He has sat on the Court of Appeal since 2012 and chaired the JAC since last May.

The Honourable Madam Justice Ardith Walkem, Supreme Court of British Columbia
Over the course of her career, Justice Ardith Walkem has consistently championed the legal rights of Indigenous Peoples. She articled with Mandell Pinder, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and McDonald and Associates before being called to the Bar in 1996. For eighteen years, she has been the owner and partner at Cedar and Sage Law, where she has represented her clients at all levels of court, including at the Supreme Court of Canada as part of the legal team in R. v. Morris.

Justice Walkem has a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University (Major Political Science, Minor Women’s Studies); Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Laws from the University of British Columbia, where she focused on Indigenous laws. In addition, she has taught at the UBC Faculty of Law.

Her legal advocacy has focused on the recognition of Indigenous laws, including in the areas of child and family wellness (finding ways to reassert and reclaim Indigenous laws in this area) and exploring laws about land and resource use.

The Honourable Madam Justice Sandra Wilkinson, Supreme Court of British Columbia
Justice Sandra Wilkinson was born in Pointe Claire, Quebec, and raised primarily in Scarborough, Ontario. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in 1989 and Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia in 1992. She was admitted to the British Columbia bar in 1993 and the California bar in 1999.

Madam Justice Wilkinson began her legal practice as a civil and family law litigator in Vancouver serving the LGBTQ+ communities, and went on to practise in the area of tax and trusts law in California. She returned to Vancouver, where, from 2004 until her appointment, she was legal counsel with the Attorney General of British Columbia, advising and representing provincial financial institution, pension plan, mortgage broker and real estate industry regulators and the Ministry of Finance.

A presenter at numerous continuing legal education events, Justice Wilkinson served as an executive member of Canadian Bar Association practice sections and, at the time of her appointment, a director and executive member of the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia. She was also a long-time director and president of the British Columbia Government Lawyers Association and a regular contributor to meetings of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.

The Honourable Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill, Supreme Court of British Columbia
Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2017. Prior to her appointment, Justice Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator in her own boutique law firm, with a focus on complex commercial and general litigation. She has extensive trial and appellate experience, and has appeared as counsel before courts and tribunals across Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Her pro bono work as General Legal Counsel for the World Sikh Organization of Canada, was instrumental in helping shape human rights and religious accommodation law in Canada.

Justice Shergill has held leadership positions both within and outside the legal community. She has served on the Board of Governors of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, as National and Provincial Chair of the Administrative Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, and as a Director on the Fraser Health Authority Board.

Justice Shergill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service. She lives in the Metro Vancouver area, with her husband and three children. 

This event is hosted by the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam First Nations. We encourage our members to explore the rich history and knowledge of Indigenous people, and to continue learning about their experience in Canada, past and present.
Attendance at this in-person/virtual conference will provide you with 1.5 CPD hour for the 2022 Law Society of BC reporting.

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