5.01.2007

bertha wilson

Bertha Wilson, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Canada, has died at 83. From her obituary in The Globe and Mail:
Had Bertha Wilson meekly followed the patriarchal advice handed down to her when she inquired about doing a law degree in the mid-1950s, the Canadian judicial system might have looked very different today. "Madam, we have no room here for dilettantes. Why don't you just go home and take up crocheting," Horace E. Read, the dean of the law school at Dalhousie University barked at her when the minister's wife and former school teacher appeared before him, seeking admission to the school in the fall of 1954.

Wilson was instrumental in ruling in favour of a woman's right to abortion, to a common-law partner's right to joint property, and to an abused woman's need to stay with her abuser in self-defence.

Wilson helped her colleagues understand that the law, while seemingly neutral, often operates to the disadvantage of the powerless and the advantage of the powerful. Bertha Wilson's Wikipedia entry here.

2 comments:

Ferdzy said...

I have a vague memory of being excited about her being appointed to the supreme court just a couple years after I got out of high school.

I also remember thinking that it was just a matter of time before women like Bertha Wilson were a numerical force to be reckoned with; in the judiciary, in politics, everywhere...

ah well. Bertha Wilson was jewel, and we were lucky to have here when we did.

Ferdzy said...

That's her, not here. Grr. Priivew psot is my fiend.