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.

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