Williams Lake is getting a new provincial court judge.
Judge Karen Whonnock, Q.C. will be sworn in on Aug. 8, 2016 and assigned to the northern region.
She was born and raised in Smithers, B.C. and is a member of the Wet’swuwet’en First Nation.
“I have an appreciation for living in that general area of B.C.,” she said of growing up in Smithers. “Despite going to law school in Toronto and travelling, it has always been this part of British Columbia that feels like home.”
Judge Whonnock received her law degree from the University of Toronto in 1999, a Master’s in law from Osgoode Hall at York University in 2003, and is now working toward a doctorate in social sciences at Royal Roads University.
In her previous experience, she was appointed to the Colville Tribal Court in Washington state for a four-year term.
“As an Associate Judge for the Colville Tribal Court, I presided over criminal, family and civil matters, including criminal jury trials,” she said. “The Colville people are a people of honour and dignity and it was both rewarding and humbling to be invited to serve the Colville Tribal Court. I enjoyed my time there very much.”
She also worked as a sole practitioner in Smithers from 2007 to 2008, where she focused on criminal, family and child protection matters in provincial court.
After that she worked with the Legal Services Society from 2008 to 2012 as a family lawyer.
“From 2012 to the present, I have been fortunate to be working as director’s counsel under the Child, Family and Community Services Act in the area of child protection,” she said.
“However my major focus in the last 10 years has been on alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and negotiation.”
Before her appointment, she was a family law mediator, family law arbitrator and parenting co-ordinator.
When she isn’t involved with law, Judge Whonnock enjoys reading, watching movies, biking, and swimming.
“My husband and I are looking forward to moving to Williams Lake and getting to know the area and the people,” she said. “We are both pleased and excited to be moving to Williams Lake, the heart of the Cariboo.”
Judge Whonnock replaces Judge Marguerite Church, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.