History of the IAWJ and the CCIAWJ


The Honourable Judge Cheryl L. Daniel
Provincial Court of Alberta – Criminal
April 2001


International Roots

In 1979, about one hundred America women judges met in California and decided to create a national women judges organization as a means of promoting collegiality amongst women judges. As well, they wished to promote education issues of particular interest to women and to attempt to increase their numbers on the bench. The National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) now has over 3000 members. Their membership includes state and federal judges as well as heads of administrative boards and tribunals. Among other activities, the NAWJ hosts an excellent annual conference, frequently on topics which constitute cutting edge legal issues.

In 1989, to help celebrate the tenth year of their existence, the NAWJ invited women jurists from fifty countries to attend their meeting in Washington, D.C. The Conference topic was, “Approaching the 21st Century: Women and the Courts.” The educational programs focussed on judicial decision making, problems of disadvantaged women in the courts, jurisprudential theories affecting current legal issues, bio-ethics, and the impact of women judges on the legal system. The attendees determined that such a wonderful conference should not be a one-time event. They left the meeting determined to build an international association. The American judges in attendance and in particular, Judge Arline Pacht, then took a primary role in founding the international organization. Three Canadian women judges were in attendance at the Washington meeting, including Judge Susan Devine who later served as President of the IAWJ from 1996 to 1998.

Membership for the new organization, the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) was solicited from individual judges as well as from organizations of women judges in various countries. In the case of Canada, women judges were invited to join as individual members and Canada was entitled to have one Canadian International director on the Board of Directors. Judge Susan Devine of Manitoba was the first judge in Canada to hold the position of Canadian International Director and had the privilege and pleasure, on behalf of Canada, of ratifying the original Constitution and By-Laws of the IAWJ once there were three paid up Canadian members.

The Canadian History

The first perceived need for a collegial group of Canadian women judges came on June 20th, 1988 from Madame Justice Bertha Wilson of the Supreme Court of Canada. She wrote to all women judges across Canada, both federally and provincially appointed, to invite them to complete a brief questionnaire to ascertain whether there might be a need for some sort of network, or perhaps eventually, some sort of an association, to discuss issues of particular concern to women judges. At that point, women comprised about seven percent of federally appointed judges and somewhat less than six percent of provincially appointed judges for an overall total of just over 100 women judges across Canada. Madame Justice Wilson’s questionnaire sought to ascertain whether there were unique needs of Canadian women judges which might be addressed in a group setting and whether there was any opportunity to meet as a group to discuss other issues.

As a result of that questionnaire, a number of women judges in Ottawa began meeting on an occasional basis. The attendees at these first occasional meetings included: Bertha Wilson, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, Beverly McLachlin, Alice Desjardins, Barbara Read, Louise Lamarre-Proulx, Wallis Kempo, Judith Bell, Louise Charron, Dianne Nicholas, Maria de Sousa, and Ellen Picard. Interest in the NAWJ and the fledging new organization began to grow among the Canadian women judges, but it was a slow beginning, with only a handful of Canadian members from 1989 – 1991.

In 1991, sixteen countries ratified the proposed constitution of the IAWJ. Canada’s ratification of the IAWJ’s By-Laws was forwarded on September 26th, 1991 and by January 15th 1992, there were sixteen Canadian members. Canada therefore became one of the original sixteen signatories to the Ratification Instrument which brought the International Association of Women Judges into existence in Chicago, Illinois, in October of 1991, on the occasion of the NAWJ annual meeting.

By the end of the summer of 1992 Canada had 37 individual members and had forwarded donations of $260.00 ($US) to the IAWJ on behalf of the Canadian women judges. There was good regional representation – four from British Columbia, three from Alberta, four from Saskatchewan, three from Manitoba, fifteen from Ontario, five from Québec and three from Nova Scotia.

The next major event in IAWJ history was the founding convention, which took place in San Diego, California in October of 1992. While there were ten spots for Canada, five Canadian women judges were in attendance for that historic meeting: Marguerite Trussler of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Patricia Proudfoot of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, Donna Hackett of the Ontario Court of Justice, Provincial Division, Corrine E. Sparks of the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia and Susan Devine of the Provincial Court of Manitoba. If there was no national association in existence in a given country, individual women could become members of the IAWJ.

Upon return from the San Diego Conference in 1992, Judge Susan Devine was enthusiastically motivated to dramatically increase the number of Canadian judges who were individual members of the IAWJ and was considering the formation of a Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ. Membership dues for Canada to the IAWJ that first year were $20.00. Since no one volunteered to replace Judge Susan Devine as International Director, she was “acclaimed” in November 1992 to the post of International Director for another year.

By April 6th, 1993, there were 45 paid up Canadian members of the IAWJ. Judge Donna Hackett volunteered to be the Newsletter co-ordinator to the IAWJ as well as the Representative for Ontario. Judge Corrine Sparks volunteered to be the membership committee representative and the representative to the IAWJ for the Maritimes. Madam Justice Marguerite Trussler volunteered to be the representative from Alberta.

In 1993 the majority of the IAWJ Executive Council recommended that a call to action be directed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations with respect to certain atrocities in the former country of Yugoslavia. Judge Susan Devine was asked to advise as to the Canadian position. As she felt this might well be construed as too political an action (in light of the fact she did not really have a mandate to act on behalf of 45 independent members), she declined to endorse those resolutions on Canada’s behalf.

In September of 1993, a conference of women judges was held in New Zealand and women judges from 26 countries attended. The Honourable Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé wrote to all Canadian women judges on November 3rd, 1993 saying:

The conference, for me, took another dimension. The solidarity of women judges of different nations who attended the conference made me realize that we need to create a world-wide network and to exchange with our female colleagues more often. The sharing of each other’s experience, the learning from each other, the opportunity to broaden our horizons through such exchanges has appeared to me to be extremely valuable. Besides, there is a quality to those exchanges that I had not experienced in other types of conferences.

The Honourable Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé joined the IAWJ and invited all Canadian women judges to join it as well. She suggested in her letter:

Perhaps a Canadian committee or branch of the I.A.W.J., as is done elsewhere in the world, could respond to our needs and interests.

As of July, 1993 there were 259 women judges in Canada according to Canadian Judicial Council statistics. The Canadian IAWJ membership was almost equally divided between federally appointed and provincially appointed judges. The largest membership provinces were Ontario (18 memberships) and Alberta (14 members), although there were members from most provinces.
No Canadian women judges attended at the American National Association of Women Judges Conference held in Philadelphia in October 1993 and the IAWJ did not hold a meeting in 1993.

By January of 1994, there were 52 Canadian dues-paying members. Judge Susan Devine served as International Director for Canada, informally after the Washington Conference in 1989, and formally from the inception of the IAWJ until October of 1994. Prophetically, Judge Devine states in her January 14th, 1994 letter:

I think we are at a very pivotal moment in our history as an organization. Many of you will have read Madam Justice Bertha Wilson’s Report and will be mindful of the suggestion contained in that report of the importance of networking and mentoring amongst women. The personal benefit has also been very eloquently outlined by Justice L’Heureux-Dubé in her letter to the Canadian women judiciary. It is a very emotional experience, and one which I have been privileged to have had several times now, to find oneself in a meeting of literally hundreds of judges, virtually all of whom, are women. Some of our members from the larger provinces, are privileged to have large numbers of members concentrated in a single centre, such as Ottawa, Toronto or Vancouver, and are able to at least meet informally. I know that Judge Connie Sparks also attempted to arrange a similar informal gathering for the judges in the Halifax and Dartmouth area. Many women judges, in smaller areas, are much more isolated, however, and may find it much more difficult to “network” without the assistance of an organization such as ours.

In her February 25th, 1994, letter Judge Susan Devine indicated to Judges Marguerite Trussler, Donna Martinson, Patricia Linn, Corrine Sparks and Donna Hackett that:
… Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s interest in the organization really bodes well for its growth in Canada over the next few years and we may begin to take some concrete steps towards making a difference for our members.

She notes that the Nova Scotia women judges were very active in hosting a series of informal pot luck dinners and that the one planned for May was being hosted by Chief Justice Glube.
The highlight of 1994, however, was the second meeting of the IAWJ in Rome, Italy on May 27 – 29, 1994. The Conference was co-sponsored by the Italian Association of Women Judges, the IAWJ and the International Women Judges Foundation. The topic was “An International Conference on Domestic Violence: A Hidden Problem Exposed.” Judge Susan Devine attended that Conference as a speaker, along with Judges Sandra Chapnik, Wallis Kempo, Sheila Ray, Karen Johnston, Céline Pelletier, Rolande Matte, Micheline Corbeil Laramee and Huguette St-Louis, for a total of 9 Canadian judges.
The Rome Conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet not only colleagues from other parts of Canada, but women judges from some 50 other countries from around the world. Judge Susan Devine commented on the Conference:

Holding a conference on this topic in Italy was a very ground-breaking and courageous endeavor for the Italian women judges who organized the conference. This was demonstrated very vividly at the outset of the conference when the President of Italy attended the opening of the conference uninvited and immediately left to give a press conference. During the press conference, she stated that feminism was dead, and that it was her intention to dismantle the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Italian judiciary, which is the vehicle through which Italian women judges have been making strides towards achieving equality. The one beneficial aspect of this controversy was that the conference received a great deal of coverage in the Italian press! At the business meeting of the conference on the last day, a resolution was passed by the assembly congratulating the Italian Association of the leadership it had shown to the world by hosting the first International Conference of Judges on Domestic Violence, and setting out that 200 women judges from more that 50 countries and every continent were in attendance at the meeting at which this resolution was passed. The resolution was moved by Canada, seconded by New Zealand, and approved unanimously by the conference participants.

Judge Susan Devine was nominated as Secretary-Treasurer of the IAWJ and expected to assume that office in the fall. However, she was later contacted by the Executive and asked if she would let her name stand as Vice-President, since the Vice-President who was originally nominated, Dr. Teresa Massa of Italy, was forced to decline the nomination for personal reasons. Judge Devine indicated she would let her name stand for Vice-President.


Judge Arlene Pacht, the President of the IAWJ in 1994, asked Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé to assemble a group of Canadian women judges, to test what later became the Jurisprudence of Equality program of the IAWJ. It was to take place at the end of April and a total of 20 women judges from across Canada were to be invited. In Judge Susan Devine’s letter of February 28th, 1994, she put forth the question:

… What are your thoughts on exploring the notion of a Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ with a slate of officers?

Nineteen Canadian women judges from virtually all levels of Canadian courts, and from most of the Canadian provinces, met in Toronto on Saturday, April 30th, 1994. The meeting was chaired by Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé. Honoured guests were Judge Arlene Pacht, and the Honourable Shirley Fingerhood of New York. The meeting was called as part of a pilot project under the auspices of the International Women Judges Foundation. The goal of the project was to equip judges with the expertise they needed to decide cases involving all forms of discrimination against women, by making reference to the protections and guarantees accorded women by human rights treaties, covenants and conventions.
Prominent members of the Canadian academic community were also in attendance. Dean Sheila Martin of the University of Calgary, Professor Irwin Kotler of the University of Montreal and Professor Rebecca Cook of the University of Toronto, all participated in the day long session. Selected relevant human rights materials were introduced. Participants were then invited to explore the possibilities inherent in various international instruments for the protection and promotion of human rights. A lively discussion took place as to the potential applicability of using these principles in the context of domestic courts. All participants found the session to be a worthwhile opportunity, not only for an exchange of ideas on the topics under consideration, but also for a general exchange of ideas on common issues faced by women judges in Canada, regardless of their geographical or juridical jurisdiction. The day long session and meeting was followed by a dinner graciously arranged and hosted by Madam Justice Marie Corbett.

One major decision taken as a result of this meeting, was to hold a meeting of women judges in Toronto, Wednesday, August 21st, 1994, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Canadian Bar Association. It was hoped at that meeting, that a Canadian chapter of the IAWJ would be founded in accordance with the consensus expressed by the participants in attendance at the meeting of April 30th, 1994.

On May 31st, 1994, the Honourable Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé wrote again to all women judges in Canada to advise that the membership of Canadian women judges in the IAWJ had increased from 15 (January 1992) to 66 members (May 1994). Justice L’Heureux-Dubé wrote in her letter that:

Some of us met in Toronto recently with Judge Arlene Pacht who, in addition to her involvement in the IAWJ, is also President of the International Women Judges Foundation whose main purpose is the education of judges in the field of human rights, with particular focus on discrimination against women. After discussion of our interest in supporting the Foundation and its goals, we felt that we had reached the point in Canada of establishing a chapter of the IAWJ in order to give ourselves a Canadian structure which, while benefiting from the experience and input from the IAWJ, could provide a mechanism for focusing on our own priorities. In that perspective, we have asked Judge Devine, together with volunteers, to look into the mechanics and logistics of establishing such a Canadian Chapter. We think it may even be done before the Canadian Bar Association annual meeting to be held in Toronto August 20-24 this year.

All women judges in Canada were invited to come to the Canadian Bar meeting, whether or not they were members of the IAWJ, to discuss the formation of a Canadian Chapter. Another item to be discussed, was one put forward by Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, a member of the Equality Committee of the Canadian Judicial Council. That committee was exploring the possibility of holding a national conference for women judges in response to Recommendation 10.8 of the 1994 Canadian Bar Association Task Force Report. Recommendation 10.8 provided:

That the Canadian Judicial Council or the National Judicial Institute consider possible means of bringing women judges together to discuss matters of special interest to them and that efforts should be made to arrange for the availability of funding for such gatherings.

The meeting was to be held Sunday, August 21st, 1994. From the responses relating to attendance at the meeting, there were some who expressed the view that “they did not favour an association of women judges.” Those persons were welcomed to attend and to make their point of view known. In a letter of July 15, 1994, advising of the date and place for the meeting, Madam Justice L’Heureux-Dubé, in response to those who did not favour an association of women judges, said:

I simply underline that, if a Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges is set up, it creates no obligation whatsoever on the part of any Canadian woman judge to join the chapter. For those of us who wish to have some contact with women judges throughout the world, it may be a useful channel, perhaps even an important one, to exchange ideas and information and to have some input in the direction of the IAWJ However, it should be clear that Canadian women judges as a group are not creating a separate entity from our male colleagues simply by belonging to a Canadian chapter of the IAWJ This is neither the purpose nor the intent.

The International Association of Women Judges and the International Women Judges Foundation passed a proclamation prior to the Canadian Chapter inaugural conference which read:


The more than 3,000 members of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and the International Women Judges Foundation (IWJF) congratulate and salute the newly-elected officers and members of the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ on the occasion of this inaugural conference. We know that you will dedicate your energies, talents and knowledge to better conditions for all women under your legal-judicial system.

In the IAWJ’s brief history, its members have learned that strength lies in unity; that in working together we are better able to mobilize and concentrate our collective strengths to protect and promote the equal rights of women. We also have learned that notwithstanding our geographic, cultural, linguistic and juridical differences, we share much in common as women and as judges. We welcome you to the international community of women judges and look forward with great pleasure to working with you in the coming years.

On behalf of the IAWJ and IWJF, we extend greetings and best wishes for success as you commit yourselves to assuring equal justice for all women locally, nationally and globally.

Justice Pacita Canizares-Nye Judge Arline Pacht
President, IAWJ President, IWJF

On Sunday, August 21st, 1994, the meeting was called to order at 2:10 pm with Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé in the Chair. She welcomed those who were present and gave a brief explanation of the letter sent out by her and Justice Beverly McLachlin and of the replies received. In attendance at this inaugural meeting were the following judges:
Claire L’Heureux-Dubè, Bertha Wilson, Catherine Fraser, Susan Devine, Marguerite Trussler, Marie Corbett, Cheryl Daniel, Jean Lytwyn, Céline Pelletier and Michèle Rivet.
It was decided to form a Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ. The primary objective of the meeting was the formalization of the Chapter’s structure. Judge Susan Devine presented a draft constitution, discussion ensued and the following consensus was reached:
1. There was to be an Executive of five people.
2. There would be a Board of Directors composed of at least one director from each Province and Territory to a maximum of 24 directors including the Executive.
3. Terms of office for the directors were to be three years and would be staggered. A director was to be elected for a maximum of two terms.
4. The election of directors and the Executive would take place at the Annual Meeting.
5. A nominating committee would propose a slate of names for the Board of Directors and the Executive which would be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association. Names might be added from the floor.

A founding committee composed of Judges Marie Corbett, Marguerite Trussler, Michèle Rivet, Céline Pelletier, Jean Lytwyn and Susan Devine was appointed. Justice Corbett was appointed to be the representative to the IAWJ and the annual fees were set at $35.00. The founding committee was to decide on a location for the Canadian Chapter’s office.
All members of the founding committee were directors of the Canadian Chapter along with the following judges:

JoAnn Prowse (B.C.)
Jean Lytwyn (B.C.)
Carolyn Phillips (Alta.)
Cheryl Daniel (Alta.)
Rose Boyko
Donna Hackett
Anne-Marie Trahan
Michèle Rivet
Margaret Larlee (N.B.)
Corrine Sparks (N.S.)

A discussion was held as to who could belong, in particular, if quasi-judicial tribunals would be included. This issue was referred to the founding committee for study and a report was to be generated for the membership.
Judge Susan Devine reported that the next IAWJ conference was to be in Manilla, from February 23 – 26, 1995, and that representation in the IAWJ included 50 countries. Judge Devine informed the meeting of the date of the next National Association of Women Judges meeting which was September 28 – October 2, 1994 and that it was being held in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé then raised the issue of a one-time only meeting of all women judges for discussion. Justice Catherine Fraser reported on a proposal being considered by the National Judicial Council and canvassed whether or not there was any interest in such a meeting. She also noted that Section 41(1) funding would be available if such a meeting was approved by the Canadian Judicial Council. Justice Bertha Wilson went on to explain the reason behind the recommendation in her task force report – that is, the need to provide networking for women judges. There was a strong consensus in favour of such a meeting, if it included a substantive programme and if it was sponsored by the Canadian Judicial Council. Attendance by and funding for provincial court judges was endorsed. Some discussion took place regarding the timing of such a meeting but no agreement was reached.
It was then decided that the next meeting of the newly fledged Canadian Chapter would be held in conjunction with the next annual meeting of the Canadian Bar Association which was to be held in August, 1995 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Upon adjourning the meeting members attended at Justice Marie Corbett’s home for a celebratory supper.
At this point in time (August, 1994), there were 76 IAWJ members out of a total of 263 women judges across Canada: thirteen from British Columbia, 14 from Alberta, 8 each from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 18 from Ontario, 11 from Québec, 5 from Nova Scotia, 1 from the Federal Court, 1 from the Tax Court and 2 from the Supreme Court of Canada. The draft constitution introduced appears as Appendix I.
In her letter of November 23, 1994, to all women judges in Canada, the Canadian International Director, Madam Justice Marie Corbett, stated:

The Canadian Chapter provides an opportunity for collegiality and mutual support nationally and internationally and provides an opportunity for professional and educational exchange.
The Growing Years

The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ was held Tuesday, August 22nd, 1995 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The meeting was called to order at 5:00 pm with Judge Susan Devine in the Chair. She gave a warm welcome to those present and distributed materials which included the meeting’s agenda, the minutes from the inaugural meeting and a report prepared by Justice Marie Corbett. The following women judges attended this 2nd Annual meeting: Susan Devine, Marguerite Trussler, Cheryl Daniel, Rose Boyko, Wendy Baker, Georgina Jackson, Diane Marcelin, Louise Mailhot and Marie Corbett

The minutes for the 1994 inaugural meeting were adopted as were the Objects in the Constitution.
The name, headquarters and structure were adopted as presented except that under “Voting Members” the word “woman” was to be replaced by the word “person” and that there be added before the word “member” where it appears the first time, the following words – “registrar, master, prothonotary or a”. The report of the nominating committee for the election of directors was accepted. Finally, it was agreed we would not exclude anyone from membership based on gender.
An agreement was reached to leave the election of officers until the November meeting, as it was hoped that there would be more members present and that by then, the Board of Directors would have time to clarify what the responsibilities of the officers would be. It was decided the next meeting would be held on either November 18th or 19th, during the conference of interest to women judges which was slated to take place in Hull, Québec.
It was proposed the Canadian Chapter would gather biographical information on all women judges and would begin by assembling the resumes of Canadian women judges. It was noted that over 95% of all women judges in Canada were alive and their role as pioneers would be significant.

It was suggested that the Chapter begin a study of judicial workplace issues of interest to women judges, such as the pension arrangements of federally and provincially appointed judges. A comparison could be made with a view to achieving greater equity and parity. Judge Cheryl Daniel agreed to chair a project to gather information on judicial pensions across the country.
It was agreed in principle that there would be a reception for the women judges at the joint CBA and Commonwealth Conference which was to be held in August of 1996 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Judge Wendy Baker volunteered to be the contact person in Vancouver.
The Constitution and By-Laws as amended and approved as the 2nd Annual Meeting in 1995 are detailed in Appendix II. After the August, 1995 meeting in Winnipeg, Judge Susan Devine, Vice-President of the IAWJ, held a dinner at her riverside home. All who attended very much enjoyed the dinner and had a wonderful time.
As at July 28th, 1995, the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ had 108 members as follows:


1 – Provincial Member

British Columbia

9 – Provincial members
5 – Federal Members


5 – Provincial Members
14 – Federal Members


3 – Provincial Members
0 – Federal Members


2 – Provincial Members
1 – Federal Member


16 – Provincial Members
23 – Federal Members


11 – Provincial Members
9 – Federal Members

Nova Scotia

2 – Provincial Members
3 – Federal Members

New Brunswick

1 – Provincial Member
0 – Federal Members

Prince Edward Island

0 – Provincial Members
1 – Federal Member


1 – Provincial Member
0 – Federal Members


51 Provincially Appointed Judges
57 Federally Appointed Judges

It was agreed the membership policy of the Canadian Chapter would be the same as the IAWJ, namely all persons in judicial office and all persons in quasi-judicial office who are eligible for judicial appointment are eligible for membership in the Canadian Chapter. It was also agreed that the Canadian Chapter would be fully bilingual.
The IAWJ sent a delegation to the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Bejing, China from August 30th to September 8th, 1995. Unfortunately, no Canadian Chapter delegates were able to attend. However, Judge Susan Devine attended at the National Association of Women Judges meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on October 5th – 9th, 1995, as International Vice-President.
From November 17th to 19th , 1995, in Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian Judicial Council held a conference with the theme “Aspects of Equality: Rendering Justice.” Many federally and provincially appointed judges attended this ground breaking conference. During this Conference, the next meeting of the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ was held on Saturday, November 18th, 1995. As this meeting, 11 of our 15 Directors considered the input from members as to whether or not the Canadian Chapter should make a submission to the 1995 Triennial Commission. Concerns were raised about the process, mandate and wisdom of identifying pensions as a gender issue. The conclusion was that a submission would not be made.
During the 1995 year, an historical committee was established to develop an archival repository and Justice Louise Mailhot was put in charge. Also established was a Liaison Committee so the Canadian Chapter could liaise with other organizations within Canada and internationally. To that end, Justice Wendy Baker agreed to arrange for the Canadian Chapter to hold a reception during the 1996 Canadian Bar Association Meeting in Vancouver. Judges Marguerite Trussler and Caroline Phillips volunteered to assist with the reception. Also during the 1995 year, an Education Committee was established to gather decisions of particular interest to women. The Canadian Chapter agreed to host the 1998 National Association of Women Judges in Ottawa, Canada as Judge Susan Devine was expected to be the International President of the IAWJ. It was to be a joint meeting with the IAWJ.
Our International Director, Justice Margaret Larlee, attended the IAWJ Conference in Manilla in February 21st – 25th, 1996, as did Justice Alice Desjardins and Justice Louise Lamarre-Proulx.
On April 4th, 1996, the Honourable Judge Michèle Rivet resigned from the office of Secretary and as a member of the Board of Directors owing to professional commitments. Justice Rose Boyko volunteered to act as Secretary until a new Secretary could be appointed at the August 1996 meeting. As of April 10th, 1996, there were 110 paid members of the Canadian Chapter.
Some new initiatives were undertaken in 1996, including a draft protocol to deal with matters that were strictly federal or strictly provincial in nature to address earlier concerns raised by members; the encouragement of women provincial court judges to apply for federal appointments; and the aspect of sabbaticals for women judges, given the long time in office of women judges as they are appointed earlier ages. It was also suggested we might consider how our association could cooperate with countries who require assistance in improving their judicial systems, particularly developing and eastern European countries. Finally, it was suggested that the Canadian Chapter establish a United Nations liaison with a Canadian director. Justice Margaret Larlee agreed to pursue that.
In 1995 – 1996, the President of the Canadian Chapter was Marie Corbett; the Vice-President was Marguerite Trussler; acting Secretary was Rose Boyko; and the Treasurer was Karen Johnston. The International Director was Margaret Larlee. Directors included Jean Lytwyn, Cheryl L. Daniel, Justice Carolyn S. Phillips, Rose Boyko, Donna Hackett, Fran Kiteley, Céline Pelletier, Anne Marie Trahan, and Corrine Sparks.
The 3rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ was held on August 26th, 1996, in Vancouver. The 1996 – 1997 elected Executive of the Canadian Chapter was as follows:

President: Marie Corbett
Vice-President: Marguerite Trussler
Treasurer: Karen E. Johnston
Secretary: Rose Boyko
International Director: Margaret Larlee
Past President: Susan Devine

The Directors were:

Jean Lytwyn Cheryl L. Daniel
Carolyn S. Phillips Corrine E. Sparks
Donna Hackett Fran Kiteley
Céline Pelletier Anne-Marie Trahan
Louise Lamarre-Proulx

The Canadian Chapter sponsored a reception during the Canadian Bar Association / Commonwealth Law Conference also held in Vancouver at the same time. The reception was held in the Supreme Court Judges’ lounge and 55 judges and lawyers attended the reception.

Judges Marie Corbett and Susan Devine attended the NAWJ Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, September 25th – 29th, 1996. At that Conference, the Canadian Chapter announced it would host the 1998 IAWJ Conference in Ottawa from Thursday, May 21st, 1998 to Sunday, May 24th, 1998. Co-Chairs were Judges Margaret Larlee and Maria Linhares de Sousa. The theme was “A New Vision for a Non-Violent World: Justice for Each Child.”
The following judges agreed to take part in organizing the International Conference in May of 1998:

Communications Officer: Céline Pelletier
Resource Committee: Anne-Marie Trahan
Diane Nicolas
Social Committee: Nicole Devale Hessler
Mary Hogan
Education Committee: Louise Charron
Daniel Grenier
Silent Auction: Cheryl Daniel
Marguerite Trussler

By June of 1997, there were 154 members of the Canadian Chapter. We were growing by leaps and bounds! The Honourable Bertha Wilson accepted the invitation of the Canadian Chapter to become an Honourary Member of the Canadian Chapter in June of 1997.
On March 14th, 1997 with the assistance of Justice Rosalee Abella, the NAWJ held a reception at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The Honourable Janet Reno, the Attorney General of the United States, was honoured and all were welcomed by Ambassador Raymond Chretien. Judges Margaret Larlee, Anne-Marie Trahan, Susan Devine and Marie Corbett attended this inspiring event and very much enjoyed meeting the Attorney General. The NAWJ was most appreciative of the opportunity to see the renowned Canadian Embassy and to meet the Canadian Ambassador.
A meeting of the Canadian Chapter was held August 26th, 1997 in Ottawa, Ontario. At that meeting, the Canadian Chapter By-laws were amended to provide for the election of directors at the annual or general meeting of the association. As well a clarification was made that the Executive was to be comprised of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and up to two other members selected by the directors. The 1997 – 1998 list of Executives and Directors was as follows:

President: Marie Corbett
Vice-President: Marguerite Trussler
Secretary-Treasurer: Rose Boyko
International Director: Margaret Larlee

The Directors were:
Marie Corbett Margaret Larlee Anne-Marie Trahan
Cheryl Daniel Carolyn Phillips Karen Johnston
Corrine Sparks Donna Hackett Thérèse Alexander
Fran Kiteley Céline Pelletier Georgina Jackson
Maria Linhares de Sousa Micheline Corbeil-Laramee

As of September 15th, 1997 there were 174 members of the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ. The breakdown was as follows:

British Columbia

12 – Provincial
7 – Federal


3 Provincial
15 — Federal


5 – Provincial
3 – Federal


3 – Provincial
5 – Federal


28 – Provincial
33 – Federal


22 – Provincial
18 – Federal

New Brunswick

0 – Provincial
1 – Federal

Nova Scotia

6 – Provincial
3 – Federal

Prince Edward Island

1 – Provincial
1 – Federal


1 – Provincial
1 – Federal

Northwest Territories

1 – Provincial
1 – Federal


2 – Ontario
2 – Quebec

In September, 1997, Marie Corbett stepped down as President and Marguerite Trussler assumed that position, with Rose Boyko becoming Vice-President, and Karen Johnston becoming Secretary-Treasurer.

On May 21st, 1998, the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ welcomed over 400 national and international judges, representing over 60 countries, to the Fourth Biennial IAWJ Conference. The Conference theme was “A New Vision for a Non-Violent World: Justice for Each Child.” A welcoming reception was held at the Supreme Court of Canada with the keynote address ‘On the Betrayal of Childhood’ being delivered by Mr. Stephen Lewis, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.
Following sessions included topics such as, “How can International Treaties help the Battered Child in my Courtroom?”, “Judicial Use of International Conventions to Foster Children’s Rights”, and the “Role of the Judiciary in Securing Children’s Rights.” Another session focussed on the themes of sex trafficking of children; children in armed conflict; child labour practices; international child abduction, and discrimination against the girl child. After Plenary sessions and Regional meetings, another session was held that dealt with “Children and Youth in Conflict with the Law.” The final session included discussions on the topic of the “Voice of the Child in Comparative Legal Systems.” This session included the plight of the voiceless child, the child and family breakup, the child in need of protection, and the child witness in criminal court.
A number of significant resolutions were approved unanimously by the Conference delegates. Among them was a resolution recommending the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court. Other resolutions were: a call for the universal ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that provides for the right of petition by individuals and third parties. In addition, the assembly approved a resolution applauding the UN Foundation’s decision to devote a substantial portion of the one billion dollar gift contributed by Ted Turner to programs that help women, children and victims of war in underdeveloped countries. The assembly also approved a resolution that condemned the death penalty in cases involving children. Following a practice adopted at previous Conferences, the delegates approved the terms of a two-year agenda set forth in the ”Ottawa Declaration.” By the terms of this manifesto, IAWJ members pledged to continue to combat all forms of violence against women and to promote and protect the rights of children.
A wonderful social program was enjoyed by all, with the opening night reception hosted by Chief Justice Antonio Lamer at the Supreme Court of Canada. The next evening, a tour and reception at Rideau Hall, which was hosted by Madam LeBlanc, wife of the Governor General, was enjoyed by all. The social highlight of the Conference was the banquet held at the renowned Chateau Laurier. At the banquet, IAWJ-IWJF President Judge Susan Devine and founding president, Judge Arline Pacht, presented the organization’s first Human Rights Award to Justice Bertha Wilson, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Canada.

At the closing luncheon, Canada’s Minister of Justice, The Honourable Anne McClellan, saluted the work begun by the delegates and pledged the Ministry’s support in meeting the mandate of the Ottawa Declaration.
The ‘Silent Auction’ raised over $12,500.00, out of which a sum of $6,000.00 was presented to the IAWJ as a donation. A book containing the text of the Conference presentations, conventions and international instruments which were studied was published and sent to all registered participants.
The 1998 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Chapter was held on May 23rd, 1998 at the Conference. Justice Marguerite Trussler called the meeting to order and Secretary Michèline Corbeil Laramee informed the assembly that the Annual August, 1997 meeting did not take place. The amendment to the By-laws respecting the election of Directors and appointment of Executive was ratified. It was reported that 163 people were members of the Canadian Chapter. The bilingual policy of the Canadian Chapter was adopted.
For the 1998 – 2000 term priority issues were to be overcoming all forms of violence against women and promoting and protecting the rights of all children, particularly the rights of the female child. Eleven directors were re-elected for a three year term. They were Marie Corbett, Marguerite Trussler, Rose Boyko, Karen Johnston, Donna Hackett, Carolyn Phillips, Cheryl Daniel, Céline Pelletier, Anne-Marie Trahan, Margaret Larlee and Corrine Sparks. Four new directors were elected, those being: Geraldine (Jeri) ) Sparrow, Odette Perron, Helen McLeod and Gina Quijano.
One exciting new development was the proposal from Justice Donna Hackett that the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ should:

1) “Twin” with another country affiliated with the IAWJ and,
2) organize an international surplus book distribution system.

By January 1999, a committee comprised of Judges Donna Hackett, Adele Kent, Gail Maltby, Margaret Larlee, Anne Marie Trahan and Bria Huculak, developed a proposal that included the twinning component as well as a number of other outreach functions. The Executive and Board approved the proposal in the spring of 1999 and the ‘Twinning and Outreach’ Committee was formed, chaired by Justice Donna Hackett.
Four sub-committees were struck to address the Committee’s mandate:

i) Twinning Sub-Committee
ii) Surplus Legal Materials Sub-Committee
iii) Hospitality and Support Sub-Committee
iv) Canadian International Initiatives Liaison Sub-Committee

These sub-committees have undertaken the following initiatives:

i) Twinning Sub-Committee
Chair: Justice Anne-Marie Trahan
Members: Justice Donna Hackett and Judge Bria Huculak.

After careful consideration, Cameroon was chosen as our target twin because, like Canada, it is bilingual and bijural. Contact with judges and appropriate government officials here and in Cameroon has carefully developed support for this initiative. An Agreement in Principle was prepared at the request of our contacts in Cameroon and approved by the Executive. Currently we are awaiting feedback from Cameroon. The process is slow given structural differences and communications problems. As part of this twinning agreement, we hope to be able to sponsor a number of judges from Cameroon to our Conference in Montreal in November, 2001. Further initiatives with our twin such as a surplus book, information and educational exchanges will be jointly developed based upon mutual resources and need.

ii) Surplus Legal Materials Sub-Committee
Chair: Justice Adele Kent
Members: Justice Donna Hackett and Justice Bria Huculak

A number of judges have accumulated many surplus books in a number of locations. The critical issues were to determine which international colleagues needed books, what kind of books, and how to deliver them. Investigations of a similar American project revealed it was too costly and created too many problems to centralize and organize large shipments of books. As a result, Justice Hackett tested an alternative delivery system in Buenos Aires by. Seventy pounds of books on a wide range of topics were carried to the IAWJ Conference in Buenos Aires in May, 2000. These books were literally gobbled up in less than five minutes by judges in attendance. The success of this simple distribution system will be replicated on a larger scale at the next IAWJ Conference in Ireland in 2002. In addition, a survey of our international colleagues was conducted in Buenos Aires to see who is interested in receiving more books and what kinds. Judges from Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Cyrus, Pakistan, Taipei, Taiwan, Mongolia and Peru responded enthusiastically. These judges’ requests will be filled as soon as possible with the assistance of the committee’s provincial and territorial representatives. Delivery will be arranged in Ireland at the next Conference or on an individual shipping basis. Additional options such as e-mail, internet or other shipping partnerships are being investigated.

iii) Hospitality and Support Sub-Committee
Chair: Justice Margaret Larlee
Members: Justice Donna Hackett and Justice Adele Kent

The contents of this section has been deleted for privacy reasons.

iv) Canadian International Initiative Sub-Committee
Chair: Judge Bria Huculak
Members: Justice Donna Hackett and Justice Anne-Marie Trahan

An inventory of Canadian international judicial initiatives is being compiled to identify projects of interest to our organization. Contacts are being made to determine what role our organization can and should play in these initiatives.
The 1999 Annual Meeting was held in Edmonton, Alberta. It was decided the focus of the Canadian Chapter would be on education and international projects rather than domestic issues. The Chapter had 191 members. Jacqueline Matheson, Mary Noonan, Lea Duval, Louise Lamerre-Proulx, Sylviane Borenstein and Susan Devine were elected as Directors to fill vacant positions. Continuing Directors were Margaret Larlee, Corrine Sparks, Micheline Corbeil-Laramee, Céline Pelletier, Odette Perron, Anne-Marie Trahan, Donna Hackett, Karen Johnston, Jerri Sparrow, Thérèse Alexander, Cheryl Daniel, Georgina Jackson, Caroline Phillips, Marguerite Trussler and Gina Quijano. It was determined the Canadian Chapter would try to do educational conferences every two years.

The Fifth Biennial International Conference of Women Judges was held May 17 – 21, 2000 at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thirty-six judges from Canada attended this Conference and the theme of the keynote speech was “Women On The Edge”. Justice Rose Boyko, Judge Susan Devine, and Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé were three of the panellists. Sessions at the Conference involved topics relating to ‘Women On The Edge’ – women with mental illness; women in prison; women’s poverty and illiteracy; the AIDS crisis and how affects women; how being ethnically or culturally different affects women; the impact of being a war victim, refugee and or immigrant; on being female and aged and on being an unmarried adolescent mother. There were also Regional sessions held. A Silent Auction was held and social events included a barbeque and a wonderful closing banquet.
The Canadian Chapter held its annual meeting in Buenos Airies and the Executive and Directors are as follows:

President: Karen Johnston
Vice-President: Micheline Corbeil-Laramée
Secretary: Margaret Larlee
Treasurer: Anne-Marie Trahan
International Director: Cheryl Daniel
Executive Member At Large: Susan Devine

Directors are:

Deidre Pothecary Gina Quijano Sylviane Borenstein
Virgina Schular Corrine Sparks Carolyn Phillips
Geraldine Sparrow Jacqueline Matheson Georgina Jackson
Mary Noonan Céline Pelletier Patricia Hennesy
Odette Perron Lea Duval Donna Hackett
Louise Lamerre-Proulx

Also, in 2000, the Canadian Chapter produced a handbook for judges called “Child Witness Handbook”, dealing the unique aspects and requirements of child witnesses in a courtroom.
As this History is being written, the Canadian Chapter is preparing to co-host a seminar in November, 2001 with the National Judicial Institute on International Treaties and their application by Judges in Canada. History is in the making.