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Rosalie Abella

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Title: Rosalie Abella  
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Subject: Louise Arbour, Louis LeBel, Thomas Cromwell (jurist), Ian Binnie, Beverley McLachlin
Collection: 1946 Births, Canadian Jews, Canadian People of German-Jewish Descent, Canadian Women Judges, Constitutional Court Women Judges, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, German Emigrants to Canada, Jewish Canadian History, Justices of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, Living People, People from Stuttgart, The Royal Conservatory of Music Alumni, University of Toronto Alumni, University of Toronto Faculty of Law Alumni
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Rosalie Abella

The Honourable
Rosalie Silberman Abella
75th 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
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 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

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 the University of Toronto, where she obtained a B.A. in 1967 and an LL.B in 1970.[3]


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.[4] 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

Abella is the recipient of 27 honorary degrees, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.[5] She was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.[6] 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


  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. ^ Supreme Court of Canada, "Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella", retrieved June 12, 2011.
  4. ^ "The newest justices".  
  5. ^ "Golden Jubilee Medal". 
  6. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 

External links

  • Supreme Court of Canada biography
  • Entry on Rosalie Silberman Abella, Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia
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