Bertha Wilson (1923 – 2007)

Bertha Wilson
© Dick Loek/Toronto Star

Bertha Wilson was a respected lawyer and judge who was once advised to take up crocheting rather than study the law. She chose to ignore the advice and pursued a legal career, bringing a feminist critique to equality law. Wilson was born in Scotland, came to Canada as a young woman, and graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1957. In 1982, she made history as the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, where she served for eight years with integrity, courage, and openness. She helped shape the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and participated in several historic legal decisions, notably striking down Canada's abortion law in 1988. Wilson was named to the Royal Society of Canada in 1991 and made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1992.

“Liberty in a free and democratic society does not require the state to approve such decisions but it does require the state to respect them.”

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