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Minister of Defence appoints first female Judge Advocate General

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has appointed its first ever female Judge Advocate General (JAG).

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced today the appointment of Captain (Navy) Geneviève Bernatchez as the fifteenth JAG of the CAF.

“I’m extremely pleased that Captain (Navy) Bernatchez will serve as the next Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces. Captain (Navy) Bernatchez has demonstrated the leadership and commitment to service before self that exemplifies the character and spirit of Canada’s women and men in uniform,” said Minister Sajjan.

The new JAG started out her carer in the military in 1987 when she enrolled in the Canadian Naval Reserve. She later transferred to the Regular Force in 1997 and joined the Office of the JAG.

She was promoted to the rank of Captain (Navy) in 2010, serving as Deputy Judge Advocate General for Operations. In this role, she was the senior legal officer responsible for the provision of operational and international legal advice to the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces for all missions including Afghanistan and Libya.

She most recently served as the Deputy Judge Advocate General/Regional Services.

During her time in the CAF, she has also been deployed in support of CAF operations during the Kosovo conflict.

Bernatchez holds a Masters of International Legal Studies degree, with a specialization in National Security Law, from Georgetown University (Washington D.C.), a Bachelor of Laws from the Université de Montréal and a Diplôme d’Études Collégiales in Administration from the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (Montréal). She has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1993.

The naval officer also co-authored the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, the first published manual on the legal framework supporting cyber conflict.

In her role as the JAG, Bernatchez will serve as the legal advisor to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, DND and the CAF in matters relating to military law. She will also have the superintendence of the administration of the military justice in the CAF.

Bernatchez will be promoted to the rank of Commodore and will replace MGen. Blaise Cathcart who will retire later this year. A formal change of appointment ceremony will take place on June 27, 2017 in Ottawa.


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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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