Mr. LaForme is Anishinabe and a member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Mr. LaForme graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1977 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1979. In 1989, he was appointed Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario and in 1991 was appointed as Chair of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Land Claims. From 1992 to 1993, Mr. LaForme taught the “Rights of Indigenous Peoples” law course at Osgoode Hall Law School. In 1994, he was appointed a Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division), one of only three Indigenous judges ever appointed to this level of court in Canada at the time.
As a judge, Justice LaForme authored a number of seminal judicial decisions that illustrate his independent thinking and passionate commitment to social justice and the rule of law. He is a frequent speaker on topics such as Indigenous law and issues, criminal law, constitutional law, and civil and human rights. He has published many articles on issues related to Indigenous law and justice.
Mr. LaForme has been honoured with numerous eagle feathers, including one at his swearing in at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and one from the National Indian Residential School Survivors Society. He has also received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the area of Law & Justice. A bursary was created in his name for Indigenous first year law students by the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. He has received honorary doctorates from York University, the University of Windsor, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the University of Toronto and Nipissing University.
The Honourable Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré was the first Black Canadian to be appointed to the Quebec bench when she was appointed to the Criminal and Penal Division, as well as the Youth Division, of the Court of Quebec in 1999. She retired in 2012, but continued to serve part-time until 2017.
Ms. Westmoreland-Traoré was called to the Quebec Bar in 1969 and to the Ontario Bar in 1997. Prior to her appointment to the bench in Quebec, she left her mark on the legal community through her involvement in organizations such as the Office de la protection des consommateurs du Québec (1979-83) and the Canadian Human Rights Commission (1983-85), as the first president of the Conseil des communautés culturelles et de l’immigration of Québec (1985-1990), as Ontario’s first employment equity commissioner, and as regional representative for the Congress of Black Women of Canada. She participated in several observer missions in Haïti for elections and trials, as well as in South Africa for the South Africa Education Trust Fund. She was the first black Dean of a Canadian law school (University of Windsor Faculty of Law, 1996-99) and the first black female law professor at the Université de Montréal and at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She maintained a part-time law practice in immigration and refugee law, family law and human rights. She has a Doctorate of Public Law and Administrative Sciences from Université de Paris II.
Ms. Westmoreland-Traoré received the Rights and Liberties Award from the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse in 2008 for her work in the fight against discrimination and in 2020 received the Canadian Bar Association’s President’s Award.