Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, after serving on the Ontario Court of Appeal for 12 years. She practiced civil and criminal litigation until she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court in 1976. She subsequently chaired the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Justice Abella was the sole Commissioner and author of the 1984 Royal Commission Report on Equality in Employment, creating the term and concept of “employment equity.” She was the Boulton Visiting Professor at McGill Law School from 1988 to 1992, where she taught jurisprudence, administrative law, and constitutional law. She was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, and is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano. She has served as a judge for the Giller Literary Prize, has written more than 90 articles and written or co-edited four books on a wide variety of legal topics. In addition, she chaired the Rhodes Selection Committee for Ontario. She holds 39 honorary degrees. Justice Abella is married to Canadian history professor Irving Abella and they have two sons, Jacob and Zachary, both lawyers. She is the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.