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Murray Sinclair

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Name  Murray Sinclair
Role  Judge
Education  University of Manitoba

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Murray Sinclair (born January 24, 1951) is a Canadian politician, former judge, First Nations lawyer, and was the chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is the first aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba. Sinclair was appointed to the Canadian Senate on March 18, 2016.


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Early life

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Sinclair was born on January 24, 1951 and raised in the Selkirk area north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, graduating from his high school as class valedictorian and Athlete of the Year in 1968. Justice Sinclair was an Air Cadet with 6 Jim Whitecross Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron for several years.

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After serving as Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Manitoba, Justice Sinclair continued his academic career at University of Winnipeg, studying sociology with a history minor in 1975. He studied at the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba, and graduated in 1979.

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He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980. In the course of his legal practice, Justice Sinclair practiced primarily in the fields of Civil and Criminal Litigation Human Rights and Aboriginal Law. He represented a cross section of clients but by the time of his judicial appointment, was known for his representation of Aboriginal people and his knowledge of Aboriginal legal issues.

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When he was appointed as Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in March 1988, Sinclair was the first Aboriginal judge in the province.

Justice Sinclair was appointed Co-Commissioner, along with Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice A. C. Hamilton, of Manitoba's Public Inquiry into the Administration of Justice and Aboriginal People (The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry). In November 2000, Justice Sinclair completed the "Report of the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest," a study into the deaths of twelve children in the pediatric cardiac surgery program of the HSC (Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre) in 1994. That report has led to significant changes in pediatric cardiac surgery in Manitoba and the study of medical error in Canada.

Sinclair has also served as legal counsel for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. Sinclair has been an adjunct professor of law and an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba.

He was appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba in January 2001 and is the province's first Aboriginal judge.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Justice Sinclair was appointed the Chair of Canada's Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 2009. The Commission’s mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools and document the accounts of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the Indian Residential Schools experience.

Personal life

Sinclair's Ojibway name is Mizanay Gheezhik, meaning "the One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky,”

He is married to Katherine Morrisseau-Sinclair, and they have four children together: Misko Beaudrie, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Dene Elizabeth Anne Sinclair and Gazhegwenabeek (Gazheek) Morrisseau-Sinclair.

Civic life

Sinclair has served on numerous community boards including The Boy Scouts, The John Howard Society, The Royal Canadian Air Cadets, The Canadian Club, The Canadian Native Law Students Association, The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, and The Board of Regents of The University of Winnipeg.


  • Sinclair was awarded the A. J. Christie Prize in Civil Litigation in his second year of law, and articled with a law firm in his home town.
  • He was awarded a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, now the Indspire Awards, in 1994.
  • He has received eight honorary degrees for his work in the field of Aboriginal justice.
  • In 2016, Sinclair received Canada's World Peace Award from the World Federalist Movement-Canada.
  • In 2017, Sinclair received the Meritorious Service Cross for his service on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
  • References

    Murray Sinclair Wikipedia