The Honourable Rosalie Silberman Abella - A Life of Firsts

A Celebration of a Remarkable Career and Legacy

Shantona was a panelist on the Session, Justice Abella & Women in the Legal Profession on May 12, 2022. Along with Justice Andromache Karakatsanis of the Supreme Court of Canada, Sana Halwani from Lenczner Slaght, Justice Freda Steel of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, Rosalie Jukier from McGill University and Linda Rothstein from Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein, they discussed Justice Abella's trailblazing career and its specific significance for women in the legal profession. The session was sponsored by The Advocates' Society.


Justice Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, the first Jewish woman appointed to Canada’s top court. Her remarkable life has been a series of firsts. Born in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany, she had a storied career before joining Canada’s top court - as a practicing lawyer, a family court judge (the first pregnant person and first refugee appointed to the judiciary in Canada), law reformer (Chair of the Ontario Law Reform Commission), labour adjudicator (Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board), law professor (McGill Faculty of Law), appeal court justice and commission of inquiry head (her 1984 federal Royal Commission on Equality in Employment created the term and concept of “employment equity.”) She was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1997, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007, and to the American Philosophical Society in 2018 and in 2020, she was awarded the Knight Commander‘s Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of Germany. She is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, has judged the Giller Literary Prize, moderated a Prime Ministerial Leader’s Debate and spellbound audiences around the globe with her oratory. She has left her imprint on the Supreme Court of Canada and on the law in Canada and around the world.


The conference was co-hosted by the University of Ottawa, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre and The Advocates' Society. The conference was Co-Chaired by Stephen Bindman, Visiting Fellow and Part-Time Professor at uOttawa Faculty of Law, Gerald Chan, Partner at Stockwoods LLP and Vanessa MacDonnell, Associate Professor at uOttawa, Faculty of Law and Co-Director at uOttawa Public Law Centre.



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