January 29, 2024 | Alumni | Volunteer & Awards

Celebrated jurist Rosalie Abella inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame

Rosalie Abella holding an award

Photo by George Pimentel.

For her commitment to advancing human welfare and social justice, retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Rosalie Silberman Abella (BA 1967 UC, LLB 1970, Hon. LLD 1990) has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

The humanitarianism pillar of Canada’s Walk of Fame celebrates inductees' compassion, empathy, and unwavering dedication to making the world a better place.

Canadian inductees were recognized in categories including arts & entertainment, science & technology, and sports & athletics. Among them are pop-punk pioneer Avril Lavigne, neuroscientist Dr. Brenda Milner, and ice hockey centre for the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid.

Abella, a distinguished jurist-in-residence at U of T’s Faculty of Law, graduated from the University of Toronto’s University College in 1967 and received her law degree from U of T in 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. She was also the first refugee appointed to the bench in Canada, as well the first Jewish woman appointed to Canada’s Supreme Court.

Among her many contributions to legal thought and jurisprudence, Abella created the term and concept of employment equity when she was the sole commissioner of the 1984 federal Royal Commission on Equality in Employment. Her definition of equality was adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its first decision under Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 2023, film producer Mark Selby, a graduate of the cinema studies program in the Faculty of Arts & Science, screened at U of T a documentary about Abella’s life.

"Canada does not make celebrities out of its Supreme Court justices. But if ever there was someone who should be renowned across the country for her incomparable achievements and devotion to helping people, it’s Rosalie Abella," said Selby.

Originally published by the Faculty of Law

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