Canada's first transgender judge officially sworn in
Published Friday, February 12, 2016 8:18PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 12, 2016 9:31PM EST
After being appointed to Manitoba’s provincial court in December, Canada’s first transgender judge was officially sworn in on Friday.
Surrounded by a courtroom of friends, family and colleagues, Kael McKenzie took the oath alongside newly appointed Associate Chief Judge Anne Krahn.
"I am pleased to be part of an administrative team who are supportive and from whom I have so much to learn," said Krahn.
Attendees took turns sharing stories about McKenzie’s past, using the opportunity to slip in a few jokes.
"I know that in the history of this great country, you are the first judge in the history of this court to share your name with the superfood kale," one man quipped.
While speaking, McKenzie joked that he was glad his friends used their “utmost discretion” in deciding what stories to share.
"I'm overwhelmed by the kind comments today,” he said. “I was slightly worried about the potential informants.”
McKenzie, who received his law degree from the University of Manitoba in 2006, had been a crown attorney for five years, practicing family, commercial and civil law before that.
In addition to identifying as transgender, McKenzie is also Metis. And while an independent judicial committee took that diversity into consideration, Manitoba Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh said the decision was made based on McKenzie’s track record.
"The appointment is based on merit, based on excellence, professional excellence, and involvement in the community," said Mackintosh.
"Anytime the court can be more diverse, I think it strengthens the court, it makes it more legitimate, it gives it greater authority."
With files from CTV Winnipeg