University of Victoria names Marion Buller, former Indigenous judge, as chancellor

Buller has headed National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

University of Victoria names Marion Buller, former Indigenous judge, as chancellor
Marion Buller | Image Credit: UVic Photo Services (CNW Group/University of Victoria)

The University of Victoria has announced Marion Buller, who was the initial First Nations woman appointed as a judge in B.C. in 1994, as its 12th chancellor, for which she will serve a three-year term effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Buller, who has long advocated for Indigenous issues and rights, is a member of the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak, a Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, said the University of Victoria’s news release. As a judge for over two decades, she created and presided in the Indigenous Courts, which was then called the First Nations Courts of B.C., and established the foundation for the Aboriginal Family Healing Court conferences.

Buller has served as chief commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), appointed in 2016. Previously, she practised in the areas of administrative, criminal and human rights law.

According to the University of Victoria’s backgrounder, Buller has been director and president of the Indigenous Bar Association, commission counsel for the Cariboo-Chilcotin Justice Inquiry and a member of B.C.’s Law Courts Education Society and B.C.’s law foundation. She has authored reports and articles discussing Aboriginal rights and legal services for First Nations in B.C.

Buller has made meaningful connections to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities over her career, said David Zussman, who chairs the university’s board of governors, in the news release.

“Her legal expertise and leadership experience make her a wonderful fit for the role of chancellor for the university's next phase of upholding our commitment to serving our community and continuing the work of truth and reconciliation,” Zussman added.

“Marion's appointment reflects UVic’s unwavering commitment to listening, learning and to being open to new ways of thinking and doing as we aspire to embed Indigenous principles and Indigenous-led scholarship into the fabric of UVic,” said Kevin Hall, the university’s president and vice-chancellor, in the news release.

Buller earned both her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Victoria, which she credited with assisting her in forming her views of the world and in acquiring the foundational tools she needed for her career as a defence lawyer, prosecutor and judge.

Thompson Rivers University conferred an honourary Doctor of Laws to Buller in October.

Buller hopes to catalyze new relationships within the University of Victoria and beyond, said the news release.

“I want to help build bridges to new relationships and to support new ways of learning and incorporating Indigeneity into the curricula to show we can together, through respect, inclusion and curiosity, weave in Indigenous principles—in academic relationships, in business, in partnerships and community connections to bring about critical change in society,” Buller said.

As chancellor, Buller will serve as the university’s titular head and as a member of its senate and board of governors and will confer degrees.

Shelagh Rogers, Buller’s predecessor, first accepted her appointment in 2014 and will end her second term on Dec. 31, during which the university will hold a celebration.

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