THE ADVOCATE 753
VOL. 80 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2022
ual assault. Thankfully, this would not occur now, but the assignment of
very serious cases to brand new prosecutors was commonplace in the
1990s. Supervisors also erroneously assumed that female lawyers were better
suited to lead a child’s evidence, and there was no power to push back.
After working in the Campbell River and Courtenay Crown offices, Sheila
joined a team at “Headquarters” (Victoria) for a year developing the integrated
online system known as JUSTIN.
Those at the Victoria Crown Counsel office had heard of Sheila before she
arrived from Headquarters and were somewhat apprehensive about this
firecracker who got things done. Such fears quickly evaporated when she
arrived—she was driven and passionate, but also had an infectious laugh
and a down-to-earth manner. As a colleague recently commented, Sheila
has “not an ounce of ego”.
Sheila quickly became a valued friend and cheerleader for her Crown colleagues,
sharing ideas, strategies and fashion advice. One evening, Sheila
was sitting behind her desk with tomorrow’s files, gleefully waving a legalsized
manila envelope. It contained a little black dress that a Vancouver
shop had mailed to her. This was back in the day when we wore little black
dresses and they might have fit in an envelope.
Sheila made the big leap to the Canadian Armed Forces Office of the
Judge Advocate General (“JAG”) in 1997. She and her love, Patrick, took on
this challenge, including moving to Ottawa for her career. She met Patrick,
a similarly self-made, independent thinker and an accomplished marine
engineer, onboard the Navy ship HMCS Oriole sailing from Port Hardy to
Victoria. Patrick continues to be Sheila’s biggest fan. He has frequently
mentioned how much he admires her “big fat brain” and is very proud of
her for her accomplishments. Sheila’s support from Patrick, her stepson
Emil and her siblings have been constants throughout the years.
Speaking truth to power was a hallmark of Sheila’s career as a JAG officer.
While her fellow legal officers in basic training tried to “lie low”, she took on
the brass to ensure their pay matched their rank. Sheila then joined a team
of lawyers developing training to accompany major regulatory changes to
the military justice system. Sheila’s good friend and former colleague Guy
Killaby described them going out to teach old (and new) dogs new tricks.
Not everyone welcomed that training, but the team’s work survives to this
Sheila’s military assignments took her across Canada and to many other
countries. She advised senior, general and flag officers on domestic law, the
law of the sea and military law including international humanitarian law,
the law of armed conflict, rules of engagement, use of force and the treatment