Judge Suzanne Duncan appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Yukon

The Honourable Suzanne Duncan, a Yukon Supreme Court Judge since 2018, is the new chief justice of the Supreme Court of Yukon.

Duncan, who has been in the territory since 2006, is the first woman in the role

Yukon's new Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan will be taking over the role from the previous Chief Justice Ron Veale. The justices speak with reporters in this file photo from December 2018. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The Honourable Suzanne Duncan, a Yukon Supreme Court Judge since 2018, is the new chief justice of the Supreme Court of Yukon. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Duncan's appointment last week. 

"Chief Justice Duncan brings almost 16 years of experience practising law in Yukon, and she will be the first woman to hold this position. I am confident that she will continue to serve Yukoners well in her new role," Trudeau said in a news release. 

Duncan said it's an "honour and a privilege" to assume the role. She replaces Ron Veale, who retired in July after 20 years as a top court judge.

Yukon Supreme Court is the highest trial court in the territory, hearing a wide range of civil and criminal cases. In her new role, Duncan will continue working as a trial judge but will take on additional administrative duties including assigning and scheduling cases. She is also now a member of the Canadian Judicial Council, which works to improve the quality of the judicial service in the superior courts of Canada. 

Duncan said she will continue the work started by Veale on promoting less formal and expensive methods for resolving issues outside of court, such as case management and mediation. 

"Continuing on those practices is ... a major way, I think, of helping to improve access to justice and reduce costs," she said. 

As for being Yukon's first female chief justice, she said she's grateful gender was not a barrier.

"With the number of women who are entering law school and have been entering law school for the last 40 years, it would be quite bizarre if women weren't in leadership roles," Duncan said. "It's just good to see that we have progressed to this point." 

Prior to her appointment to the territory's Supreme Court in 2018, Duncan was the in-house legal counsel for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation. She has worked in Whitehorse since 2006 in a variety of roles which includes serving on the executive of the Law Society of Yukon. 

Veale, who said he's been reading a lot since retiring in the summer, said the most important advice he has for Duncan in her new role is to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

"That's really key to survival," he said.  

With files from Elyn Jones


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