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Justice Abella urges Brandeis grads to fight injustice

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 11:06 AM | By John Chunn

Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella delivered the keynote speech and earned an honorary degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., during the university's 66th Commencement on May 21.

In a powerful commencement speech, Justice Abella urged the Brandeis class of 2017 graduates to fight injustice wherever it arises.

“You see before you a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada who is deeply worried about the state of justice in the world,” Abella told the audience, before recounting her family’s harrowing personal story in the Second World War and its impact on her.

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Abella was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany and grew up to become an international legal expert in human rights.

“Here we are in 2017, watching ‘never again’ turn into to ‘again and again,’ and watching that wonderful democratic consensus fragment, shattered by narcissistic populism, an unhealthy tolerance for intolerance, a cavalier indifference to equality, a deliberate amnesia about the instruments and values of democracy, and a shocking disrespect for the borders between power and its independent adjudicators like the press and the courts,” she said to fervent applause.

Justice Abella’s presence as the first Jewish woman to be named to the Canadian Supreme Court has special significance at Brandeis, which is named after Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish person to ascend to the U.S. Supreme Court.