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Royal Society of Canada Establishes Prize in Honour of Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella

The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) is delighted to announce the establishment of a prize in honour of Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, a changemaker celebrated for her visionary intellectual contributions and commitment to building equality and equity across Canadian society and beyond.

During her distinguished career, Justice Abella has been responsible for many ground breaking legal and judicial contributions. She chaired and authored the Ontario Study on Access to Legal Services by the Disabled in 1983 and was the sole Commissioner of the 1984 federal Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, creating the term and concept of "employment equity". The theories of "equality" and "discrimination" she developed in her Royal Commission Report were adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its first decision dealing with equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1989. The report has been implemented by governments around the world. 

The Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella Prize in the amount of $1,000 will be presented annually to a graduating law student in each of the law schools in Canada who is most likely to positively influence equity and social justice in Canada or globally. Inaugural winners of the Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella Prize will be announced in the spring of 2022. 

“For over 100 years, RSC awards have been established on occasion in honour of prominent Canadians who have made lifetime contributions to a better country and a better world,” said RSC President Jeremy N. McNeil. “The idea of this prize arose spontaneously among admirers of Justice Abella’s historic contributions to law and leadership in Canada.”

Professor McNeil added “It is particularly fitting to share news of this exciting prize on Canada’s birthday, especially because today is also Justice Abella’s birthday.”

Justice Abella retires from the Supreme Court of Canada today on her 75th birthday.

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