Justice Stacy Ryan becomes first Inuk to be sworn into N.L. Supreme Court

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Stacy Ryan is the first person of Inuit descent to have been sworn into the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Yvonne Rumbolt-Jones/Facebook - image credit)
Stacy Ryan is the first person of Inuit descent to have been sworn into the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Yvonne Rumbolt-Jones/Facebook - image credit)

History was made in the province this week after Stacy Ryan was sworn into the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ryan is the first Inuk to hold the position, the first woman in Labrador to become a justice and she also happens to be the first member of her immediate family to graduate from post secondary education.

"It's hard to think of myself in that way, it is ground breaking in that respect but a lot of hard work and effort went in behind it," she told CBC's Labrador Morning Show.

"It is a proud moment. It's certainly an honour."

Due to COVID-19 protocols only a small group of friends, family and community members watched Ryan get sworn in at the courthouse in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Monday.

Born in the community, Ryan said as a child growing up she always enjoyed helping people, which lent to eventual career with the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission.

Justice Stacy Ryan being sworn into the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador at the courthouse in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Justice Stacy Ryan being sworn into the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador at the courthouse in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Yvonne Rumbolt-Jones/Facebook)

She initially thought about becoming a social worker but towards the end of her first university degree decided to take the Law School Admission Test.

However, she said becoming a justice was not something she initially had her sights set on.

"When you first start, something like that seems so far away and so unattainable," she said. "So once I had maybe 12 years I did begin to think about it. You just think about it in terms of, 'do you have the qualities to do this? Do you think you are capable of doing it?'"

Although it hasn't been unattainable, Ryan said it has certainly been challenging.

"I have worked very hard and a lot of things didn't come easy but perseverance certainly does pay off. In some ways I am glad it was difficult because I appreciate it more."

One of those challenges, she said, was moving away for school, something she acknowledged can be difficult for people living in Labrador. But she said getting a higher education has greatly paid off and is something she hopes others will consider.

"For me, education is key. If you can get an education you should do what you can to achieve that because that opens up so many doors for people and especially for people in Labrador."

Ryan said she thinks about what her high standing position would mean to her ancestors before her and also what she will take with her into her new role.

"I would like to think that I will treat everybody fairly, I will still continue to work hard."

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