Rosalie Abella

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Rosalie Silberman Abella

20170125 GlobalJuristAward Abella (cropped).jpg
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Assumed office
October 4, 2004
Nominated byPaul Martin
Preceded byFrank Iacobucci / Louise Arbour
Personal details
Born (1946-07-01) July 1, 1946 (age 73)
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, 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 and Bathurst Heights Secondary School 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 was called to the Ontario bar in 1972.[5] She 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.[6] She was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992.[5] 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.

In 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Abella to the Supreme Court of Canada. Abella became the first Jewish woman to sit on the court.[7] She is eligible to serve on the Supreme Court until July 1, 2021.

In 1983, Abella was appointed to oversee the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment and in that role, coined the term employment equity,[5] a strategy for reducing barriers in employment faced by women, visible minorities, people with disabilities, and aboriginal peoples. The recommendations of the report were adopted by other countries such as New Zealand, South Africa, and Northern Ireland.[5]

She moderated a televised leaders debate in 1988 between Brian Mulroney (PC), John Turner (Liberal) and Ed Broadbent (NDP).

Honours and personal life[edit]

Abella is the recipient of 37 honorary degrees, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.[8] She was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.[9] In May 2016, she was awarded an honorary degree from Yale University,[10] becoming the first Canadian woman to earn such an honour.[5] She has been a judge of the Giller Prize, and is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano.

In January 2017, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights named her the Global Jurist of the Year in 2016 for her lifelong commitment to human rights and international criminal justice.[11] In April 2018, Abella was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Abella is married to historian Irving Abella,[5] and has two sons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  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", "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  3. ^ Nurse, Donna Bailey (2006). "Just "Rosie"". U of T Magazine.
  4. ^ "The Honourable Rosalie Silberman Abella". Supreme Court of Canada. April 25, 2016. Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Knelman, Martin (May 23, 2016). "Justice Rosalie Abella first Canadian woman to receive honorary Yale degree". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  6. ^ "The newest justices". CBC News. February 24, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  7. ^ "How Justice Rosalie Abella made Yale law grads cry on the happiest day of their lives". CBC Radio. May 29, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Golden Jubilee Medal".
  9. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  10. ^ "Honorary degrees awarded to nine outstanding individuals". Yale News. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Fine, Sean (January 13, 2017). "Canadian judge Rosalie Abella named Global Jurist of the Year". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 12, 2017.

External links[edit]