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Mobina Jaffer Appointed Senator

First South Asian and Indo-Canadian      

The first Indo-Canadian to make it to the Senate is Mobina Jaffer, 51,  a well-known Vancouver lawyer, appointed by  Prime Minister Jean Chretien on June 13, 2001. The choice itself is excellent because it also reflects the multicultural diversity of the South Asian community in Canada. Jaffer is an Ismaili Muslim.

Out of the four appointments made, two are women. The appointments of Ms. Jaffer and Ms. Léger bring to 28 the number of women that the Prime Minister has named to the Senate since 1993 - the most to be appointed by any Prime Minister in Canadian history. The number of women in the Senate has risen from 16 at the time the government took office to 35 as of these appointments.

Reacting to the news, Jaffer told a local ethnic paper that the appointment came as a surprise. She spoke to Chretien on the phone. She said: “I was shocked and I thanked him for thinking of me. And he said he wishes me well.”

She added: “I am very touched that the prime minister would consider me. I am actually overwhelmed to be able to represent British Columbians and our community, the first Indo-Canadian on the Senate, and I am just very touched by this gesture and I hope I can represent British Columbia well.”

Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Herb Dhaliwal applauded Jaffer’s appointment. He said: “Her appointment is a matter of great pride for the South Asian community across Canada as it formally recognizes the valuable contributions being made by South Asians to the nation-building effort of our great country. I personally know Ms. Jaffer as an articulate, consistent and progressive advocate of many causes that she espouses, like women’s rights, racial equality, human rights, education and immigration. I am convinced that in her new role as one of Canada’s senators, she will continue to play a pivotal and forceful role for the voice of British Columbians as well as the whole of Canada. Simply put, there couldn’t have been a better choice.”

Ms. Jaffer earned an LL.B from London University in London England in 1972. She has also completed the Executive Development Program at Simon Fraser University.

Since 1978, Ms. Jaffer has been a practising Barrister and Solicitor in British Columbia with the Honourable Thomas A Dohm, Q.C. in the firm Dohm, Jaffer &Jeraj. Since 1997, she has been Vice Chair of the Canadian Membership Committee for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Since 1993, she has been a Member of the Board of Governors of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia. Since 1994, she has been working with the Immigration and Refugee Board on gender and race issues. In 1994-95, she was a Member of the Canadian Bar Association Multicultural Committee. From 1992-96 she was Member of the Law Society Multicultural Committee. She was made a Queen’s Counsel in February of 1998.

Apart from her professional achievements, Ms. Jaffer has also given freely of her time to numerous philanthropic and voluntary associations including serving as: President of the YWCA of Canada; a Member of the Aga Khan National Conciliation and Arbitration Board; a Member of Third World Development; Founding President of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of British Columbia and Yukon; a Member of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women; and, a Member of the Hastings Institute.

In 1991, Ms. Jaffer won the Dr. William Black Award of the Vancouver Multicultural Society. In 1992, she was awarded a Canada 125 Medal for her work on equality issues. In 1993, she won a YWCA Women of Distinction Award and the Justice Achievement Award from the Law Courts Education Society of British Columbia. In 1995, the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia recognized her outstanding service to the legal profession. In February of 2001 she won the Influential Women in Business Award of the Women Entrepreneurs of Canada.