Mark Aitken of Yellowknife wins 2016 CBA John Tait Award of Excellence

  • February 19, 2016

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has named Mark Aitken of the Department of Justice of the Government of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife, winner of the 2016 John Tait Award of Excellence.

The award is presented each year to a public sector lawyer who has achieved the highest standards of professional conduct and competence and made significant contributions to social justice or community affairs, and who exemplifies preeminent public service.

“Mark Aitken’s legal expertise, strong analytic and deductive reasoning skills, uncompromising work ethic and tireless compassion and commitment make him the clear choice as this year’s winner,” says Abiodun Lewis, chair of the CBA’s Public Lawyers Forum.

Best known for his expertise in legal drafting, his skills allowed him to play a central role in creating the NWT legislation that was needed for the establishment of Nunavut on April 1, 1999. He participated in the multilateral working groups that guided the enactment of the amendments to the Nunavut Act and the Criminal Code that enabled Canada to meet the Division deadline.

He is described by friends and colleagues as a consensus builder and mentor who is both personable and humble. “Mark has a rare ability to explain often complex legal concepts and principles of drafting and statutory interpretation in an able, positive and approachable way,” explains Mr. Lewis.

Mr. Aitken has contributed not only to the legal profession at large, but also to the Yellowknife community and to the government of NWT. “His work has had an impact on his co-workers, community organizations, on the mandate of the Law Society and on the people of Northwest Territories,” adds Lewis.

Mark Aitken is a past president of both the Law Society of NWT and the NWT Branch of the CBA. He received the CBA’s Community Service Award in 2005, and the Law Society Volunteer Service Award in 1992. He was a member of the City of Yellowknife Fieldhouse committee, a board member of Northern Addiction Services and an executive of the NWT Tennis Association.

The John Tait Award of Excellence was established in 1998 to honour, recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of public sector lawyers in Canada. Originally named the Inukshuk Award of Excellence, it was renamed in August 1999 to honour John Tait, an outstanding lawyer, public servant and friend of the CBA who passed away in 1999. It takes the form of a statue of Inukshuk (or direction finder, a symbol of showing the way) by an Inuit artist.

Mr. Aitken will receive the award on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Fairmont Château Laurier, during the CBA Mid-Winter Meeting of Council.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.