Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella (LLB 1970), a champion of human rights and social justice, was presented with the University of Toronto's Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award

Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella on stage at the Jackman Law Building's moot courtroom that bears her name (photo by Nick Iwanyshyn / University of Toronto, October 2019)

Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella (LLB 1970), a champion of human rights and social justice, has been appointed Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law Schooleffective July 1, 2022 for a three-year term. She is the first Canadian jurist to be appointed to a Chair at Harvard Law School.

We are thrilled to share that, as of January 2022, Justice Abella will also be a part of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law’s intellectual community as Distinguished Visiting Jurist, participating in seminars, workshops and informal events.

On February 19, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Justice Abella will retire on July 1st after 17 years at Canada's top court. She is currently the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court.

Toronto Star: Supreme Court’s Rosalie Abella prepares to retire as her legacy of defining equality seems built to last

Last year, Justice Abella was honoured with Germany’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit (with badge and star), the country’s second-highest honour. The first category is reserved for heads of state.

"What a remarkably lucky life’s journey I’ve had,” she told The Globe and Mail on the occasion of the award. “How lucky I was to be able to grow up in Canada, which opened its doors to who I wanted to be, and who I became."

Justice Abella was born, in 1946, in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany Stuttgart, Germany. Her parents survived the Holocaust and her family came to Canada as refugees in 1950. She graduated from the University of Toronto's University College in 1967 and received her law degree from the Faculty of Law 1970. She practised civil and criminal law before her judicial appointment to the Family Court at the age of 29. She was named to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992, and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2004. 

In 2019, Justice Abella was recognized with the University of Toronto's Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award, presented to a “U of T graduate who stands out for their professional achievements, dedication to charitable and social causes, and service to the university".