Nigerians and indeed Africans continue to fly high the flag of the African continent abroad, with great and worthy achievements For the first time in the history of Canada, an African and Nigerian-born lawyer, Kelechi Madu has been named the minister of justice and solicitor-general of Alberta, Canada.
Madu who had previously served as minister for municipal affairs, is the first African to be appointed minister of justice and is described by the premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, as the person that would bring the “needed perspective” and change in the justice system of Alberta.
His new role
His words; “at a time when we are all more sensitive to the reality of racial prejudice, I think it is a strong statement that Alberta will have its first justice minister of African origin; first Black Canadian justice minister, attorney-general or solicitor-general.”
“He is a man who has experienced racial prejudice first hand, and can bring that sensitivity to this important role.”
Madu left Nigeria 15 years ago and has served in different capacities, working for Legal Aid Alberta, the Edmonton Community Legal Centre as volunteer and the Lawyer Referral Program of the Law Society of Alberta.
After bagging a law degree at the University of Lagos, he was called to bar in the early 2000s and in 2005, he and his wife who also studied law moved to Canada where they practised with their law firm Tisel Law Office, established to “provide high quality client-focused legal services.
In 2009, barely four years after arriving in Canada, he was part of a team that received the Premier’s Award of Excellence award (bronze medal category), a recognition preserved for “Alberta Public Service employees as well as select boards, commissions and agencies for superior client service and business-excellence practices.”
He was elected to the legislative assembly of Alberta in April 2019, and was later appointed minister of municipal affairs.
In addition to his legal practice, he has also acquired years of experience in the public service in Alberta; he once worked as a senior technical advisor for the Government of Alberta in areas of legislative and regulatory reviews, operational and strategic public policies, issues management and stakeholder consultation.
She also said Madu is fit for the new role, “not only because of his background as a lawyer but also because he is an active member of the African community.”
“Historically, these are positions that have been occupied by white men that have no understanding of the disproportional impact of the justice system and what Black communities experience,” she said.
Whether we agree with one party or another that doesn’t really matter, especially for the Black voice right now.
“What matters is effective Black people that are educated, that have integrity, that also have education background, are the ones that are occupying the space.”
In a statement published via his Facebook page, Madu — who is expected to bring his legal training and policy experience to use in implementing key democratic reforms including a review of Alberta’s Police Act — said he was “beyond humbled” over his new role.
He said he is determined to make sure Alberta’s justice system represents all its citizens “in a way that is fair and accountable.”
“As I reflect upon my new appointment as the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, the importance of carrying this ministry forward amid these difficult social and economic times weighs heavily on my mind,” he said.
My fundamental belief that every soul deserves equal access to justice has always informed my legal work, and that will never change.
I spent my entire professional career fighting for those who lacked means, including at Legal Aid Alberta, Labour, Immigration, and Human Rights Tribunals, and in the courts. My views on the application of justice and equality will always be integral to who I am as a father, husband, citizen, lawyer, and politician.
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