Rosalie Abella

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Honourable
Rosalie Silberman Abella
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Assumed office
October 4, 2004
Nominated by Paul Martin
Preceded by Frank Iacobucci / Louise Arbour
Personal details
Born (1946-07-01) July 1, 1946 (age 70)
Stuttgart, Germany
Spouse(s) Irving Abella

Rosalie Silberman Abella, FRSC (born July 1, 1946) is a Canadian jurist. She was appointed in 2004 to the Supreme Court of Canada,[1] becoming the first Jewish woman to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench.[1]

Early life[edit]

Rosalie Silberman Abella was born in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany, where her father, a lawyer, was defence counsel for displaced persons in the Allied Zone of Southwest Germany.[2] She moved to Canada with her family in 1950. She attended Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto,[3] and then the University of Toronto, where she obtained a B.A. in 1967 and an LL.B in 1970.[4]


Abella practised civil and family law until 1976, when at the age of 29 she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court (now part of the Ontario Court of Justice), becoming both the youngest and first pregnant judge in Canadian history.[5] She was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992. She has acted as chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Study into Access to Legal Services by the Disabled and the Ontario Law Reform Commission, and as a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and of the judicial inquiry into the Donald Marshall, Jr. case. She is considered one of Canada's foremost experts on human rights law, and has taught at McGill Law School in Montreal. She is eligible to serve on the Supreme Court until July 1, 2021.

Justice Abella presided over the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, where she coined the term employment equity, a strategy for reducing barriers in employment faced by women, visible minorities, people with disabilities, and aboriginal peoples. She moderated a televised leaders debate in 1988 between Brian Mulroney (PC), John Turner (Liberal) and Ed Broadbent (NDP).

Personal life[edit]

Abella is the recipient of 35 honorary degrees, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.[6] She was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.[7] In 2016, she was awarded an honorary degree from Yale University.[8] She has been a judge of the Giller Prize, and is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano. Abella is married, and has two sons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Text of a speech given by Justice Abella to the Empire Club in Toronto on February 9, 2011, entitled "The World is not Unfolding as it Should: International Justice in Crisis", [1].
  3. ^ Nurse, Donna Bailey (2006). "Just "Rosie"". U of T Magazine. 
  4. ^ Supreme Court of Canada, "Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella", retrieved June 12, 2011.
  5. ^ "The newest justices". CBC News. 2006-02-24. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  6. ^ "Golden Jubilee Medal". 
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  8. ^

External links[edit]