'Breaking barriers': Canada's first transgender judge sworn in at Manitoba court
Cheryl Holmes, CTV Winnipeg
Published Friday, February 12, 2016 9:25AM CST
Last Updated Friday, February 12, 2016 7:03PM CST
A swearing-in ceremony for two Manitoba judges marked a milestone for Canada.
On Friday, Kael McKenzie and Anne Krahn were sworn in at the Winnipeg law courts on York Avenue.
McKenzie was officially designated a Manitoba judge on Dec. 17, 2015.
He is now Canada’s first self-identifying transgender judge.
McKenzie spoke to a courtroom full of family, friends and colleagues Friday afternoon. “I’m overwhelmed by the kind comments today,” he said.
McKenzie was called to the bar in 2007 and has worked as a lawyer in Winnipeg ever since.
He spent time both as a private lawyer and as a crown attorney when he was appointed to the provincial courts in 2013.
He is noted by the Manitoba Bar Association for his dedication to community involvement, including as a member of various LGBTQ organizations and law organizations.
The new judge told the crowd at the ceremony he received support from across Canada shortly after his appointment was announced.
He took time to specially thank his family that flew in from across Canada for the event.
McKenzie’s spouse and two sons sat in the front row for the ceremony. “This day would not be complete without (my sons),” said McKenzie.
The event was filled with light-hearted moments and talk of both appointees' pasts.
The Provincial Court Act of Manitoba was changed in 2001 to improve diversity.
“It’s historic… anytime the court can be more diverse, I think it strengthens the court, it makes it more legitimate, it gives it greater authority,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Hon. Gord Mackintosh.
McKenzie was sworn in alongside Krahn, who has served as a provincial judge since June 2013 and is now an associate chief judge.
"Your appointments have added to the diversity of the court. You are breaking barriers," said Hon. Gord Macintosh, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Manitoba, during Friday's ceremony.
“I am pleased to be part of an administrative team who are supportive and from whom I have so much to learn,” said Hon. Anne Krahn.
In 2013, the province said Krahn provided legal advice and training to numerous government branches, police, corrections officers and others on many issues. She has also instructed criminal law courses at The University of Winnipeg.
Krahn began her career as a provincial Crown attorney serving Thompson and 15 surrounding northern communities.
She has also been a federal Crown attorney and senior counsel with a focus on criminal matters.
Kael McKenzie smiles after being sworn in as Canada's first transgender judge in a Manitoba courtroom on Feb. 12, 2016.
Kael McKenzie (left) is sworn in as a provincial judge in Manitoba at the law courts in Winnipeg on Feb. 12, 2016. Anne Krahn (second from left) was also sworn in, as associate chief judge.