Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré

First Black Dean of a Law School in Canada, First Quebec Black Judge

“Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré is a woman of firsts: the first black, female Canadian law dean, and the first black judge to sit on a Quebec bench. She has been an amazing trailblazer and role model for me and other women of colour, a shining example of what we can achieve in our legal careers”. Vivene Salmon.

Born in Verdun, Quebec on March 10th 1942, Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré has been a trailblazer in the Canadian legal and social justice sphere. Westmoreland-Traoré achievedPhoto of Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré a Bachelor of Arts from Marianopolis College and a law degree from the University of Montreal in 1966, where she was the only Black student in her class. She then continued her education to earn a doctorate in Public Law and Administration Sciences from the University of Paris.

Westmoreland-Traoré began her law career in private practice, beginning in a law firm and eventually opening her own private practice. During this time, she taught at the University of Montreal as well as the University of Quebec in Montreal. In 1996, Westmoreland-Traoré was appointed as Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Windsor, making her the first Black person to be dean of a law school in Canada. She served as Dean until 1999 when she was appointed a Judge of the Court of Quebec for the District of Montreal, also the first black woman to do so.

Throughout her career, Westmoreland-Traoré specialized in immigration and citizenship law, human rights, family law and non-profit organization law. Named an officer of the Ordre national du Quebec, Westmoreland-Traoré has received many awards and accolades, some of note include:  the 2008 Rights and Freedoms Prize from the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, and the 2016 Viola Desmond Award from the University of Ryerson. And the 2020 Touchstones Award from the Canadian Bar Association.

In 2013, the Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré Scholarship was established through the University of Quebec in Montreal. This award is presented to an undergraduate law student who has “demonstrated their desire to use the law as a tool for social change and to put it at the service of the community by getting involved in activities to promote human rights, social justice and access to justice, equality, for the benefit of disadvantaged and racialized populations.”

Though retired in 2012, Westmoreland-Traoré continues her work towards legal justice as a supplemental judge in Quebec. In 2021, she partnered with Honorable Harry LaForme to call on the Canadian government to establish an independent “Miscarriage of Justice Commission” in Canada. This commission’s goal is to work towards changing the way that wrongful convictions are addressed through the Canadian Justice System.


“A Miscarriage of Justice Commission.” Government of Canada, Criminal Conviction Review, Jan. 2, 2023. Web. Accessed Jan. 16, 203.

Hill, Sharon. “Former University of Windsor Law dean honoured at start of Black History Month.” Windsor Star. Feb. 3, 2020. Web. Accessed Jan. 16, 2023.

Juanita Westmoreland- Traoré.” 100 Accomplished Black Women. Web. Accessed Jan. 16, 2023.

Juanita Westmoreland- Traoré.” Ordre National du Quebec, Sep.27, 2018. Web. Accessed Jan. 16, 2023.

Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré Scholarship.” Université du Québec à Montréal, 2021. Web. Accessed Jan. 16, 2023.