An aboriginal woman has been appointed to the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories for the first time in its history. 

Shannon Smallwood was appointed on Friday by the Department of Justice Canada.

Her appointment also marks the first time the territory's superior court has had all female justices. The four judges currently sitting on the court's bench are:

  • The Honourable Justice Virginia A. Schuler.
  • The Honourable Justice Shannon Smallwood.
  • The Honourable Justice Louise A.M. Charbonneau.
  • The Honourable Justice Karan Shaner.

Justice J. Edward Richard remains supernumerary judge with the N.W.T court.

Richard is currently vacationing outside of Canada, according to relatives at his residence in Yellowknife. Richard may still help out as a sit-in judge in the future if the resident justices are unavailable.

The Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories is a superior court of record and has jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters — except those expressly excluded by statute — and is based in Yellowknife. 

The court is composed of up to four judges, and the senior judge is responsible for its overall administration.

Smallwood, who originally hails from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., is taking Justice Virginia Schuler's position. Schuler, in turn, is now the court's senior judge.

Smallwood previously worked as a Crown prosecutor in Yellowknife, where she was admitted to the bar in 2000. She is currently in New Orleans, La., and is not expected back in Canada until mid-December.

CBC News has not been able to reach her for comment.