A “Renaissance person” is one with wide interests who is expert in several areas. There is no better description of Judge Gurmail Gill, the first person of South Asian heritage appointed to the BC Provincial Court. While making significant contributions to the justice system and the wider community during his 38 year career as a lawyer and judge, Judge Gill has found time to develop expertise in some fascinating and perhaps surprising hobbies - including challenging athletic, scientific, and artistic pursuits.
Judge Gill was born and grew up in BC’s Lower Mainland. With his spouse Govinder, he has raised three children, all now adults engaged in pursuits of their own.
His father came to Canada in 1950 and was among an early generation of South Asian students attending the University of British Columbia, obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree and then his Masters of Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario.
Interested in both the physical and biological sciences, Judge Gill obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1979. However, law classes taken in Grades 11 and 12 at Burnaby Central Secondary School had triggered another interest - in the law. After taking a year off, he enrolled in law school and obtained his Bachelor of Law degree in 1983. Judge Gill then practised law for ten years, primarily in criminal defence, family and civil litigation in Abbotsford and Vancouver before being appointed a Provincial Court judge in 1994.
He was assigned to the South Fraser District (now the Fraser Region) and worked primarily in Surrey and Abbotsford until 1996, when the provincial government asked him to chair the 4th Royal Commission on Workers’ Compensation in BC. He did so on leave from the Court until 1999, when the Commission issued a 1,348 page report with comprehensive recommendations for reforming the province’s workers’ compensation system
After returning to the Court in 1999, he served as Administrative Judge for the South Fraser District from 2007 to 2009 and as one of the Court’s two Associate Chief Judges from 2009 until 2016. A frequent speaker at local, provincial, and national education programs for judges, lawyers, and others in the justice system, he has served as a member, committee member, or board member of the BC Judicial Council, Canadian Council of Chief Judges, Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, Canadian Centre for Court Technology, British Columbia Law Institute, and chaired various Court-related Technology and Business Intelligence committees. In 2018 he became a Senior Judge and recently completed a three year term on the executive of the BC Provincial Court Judges’ Association.
Judge Gill’s extra-curricular accomplishments are just as impressive as his professional activities. He has practised Karate-do since 1977. He currently holds a 5th Degree Black Belt and serves as an instructor in this martial art. He says, “Traditional karate practice has ancient roots connecting us to discovering our human potential - it is almost without limit. I owe a great deal to what I have learned from my karate practice.”
He earned his private pilot’s licence in 2001 and explains his love of flying: “I was introduced to aviation during my high school years as an Air Cadet. Taking flight at the controls of a small aircraft gives an exhilarating sense of freedom that’s hard to describe, an experience totally different from commercial air travel.”
After getting his first telescope at age 9, Judge Gill became a lifelong amateur astronomer and astro-photographer. He notes that gazing at a star-filled sky really helps him to keep things in perspective back on Earth!
And in his spare time, he enjoys hiking, cycling, skiing, and non-astro photography!
Reflecting on his 28 years on the BC Provincial Court, Judge Gill says, “I am proud that our Court has been a leader across many dimensions of justice delivery. The Court has undergone a rejuvenation with many new appointments in recent years. Our work is challenging but incredibly important and I am really grateful for the opportunity to serve with such talented and dedicated colleagues. We are in good hands going forward.”