The Honourable Walter S. Tarnopolsky Award

Walter S. Tarnopolsky was a renowned legal scholar, judge, and human rights advocate who was a pioneer in the development of human rights law and civil liberties in Canada. ICJ Canada is proud to award the prestigious Tarnopolsky prize annually to a resident of Canada who has made an outstanding contribution to human rights, domestically or internationally. This award is administered by ICJ Canada, not the CBA. For additional information, visit the ICJ Canada website.


  • Must be a Canadian resident.
  • Under the terms of the Trust, every third award must be made to a person who has not yet reached the midpoint of her or his occupation, vocation, professional career or business career during the year for which the award is made. The year 2018 award will not fall into this category.
  • Groups are not acknowledged as candidates.
  • There are no posthumous awards.


The award takes the form of an inscribed bronze medallion and an honorarium of one thousand dollars. The award is presented publicly. This year’s location has yet to be determined, but in recent years it has been presented in the winner’s hometown at a special event.

Nomination Procedure

  • A formal nomination form to be obtained from ICJ must be completed
  • Nominations must be accompanied by both two letters of support for the candidate's nomination and a concise curriculum vitae of the nominee
  • Articles and testimonials may also be submitted
  • All of the above documentation must be submitted with the nomination
  • Nominations will stand for the next three years

Nomination form

Awards Committee

The award is administered by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Canadian Section. The selection committee is comprised of one representative from the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Judges’ Conference, the Canadian Society of Law Teachers and the ICJ. Annually, the Committee is reconstituted.

Deadline for Applications

April 30

Past Award Winners

  • 2017 - Senator Murray Sinclair (Ottawa, ON)
  • 2016 - Jennifer Bond (Ottawa, ON)
  • 2015 - Louise Arbour, C.C., G.O.Q. (Montreal , QC)
  • 2014 - Robin Sully (Ottawa, ON)
  • 2013 - Paul Champ (Ottawa, ON)
  • 2012 - Elise Groulx Diggs (Montreal, QC)
  • 2011 - Dr. James Orbinski (Toronto, ON)
  • 2010 - Jayne Stoyles (Ottawa, ON)
  • 2008 - Yves Fortier (Montréal, QC)
  • 2007 - David Matas (Winnipeg, MB)
  • 2006 - Prof. Errol Mendes (Ottawa, ON)
  • 2005 - Marcia Kran (Vancouver, BC)
  • 2004 - Justice Rosalie Abella 
  • 2003 - Georgette Gagnon (Toronto, ON
  • 2002 - Senator Gérald-A. Beaudoin (Montréal, QC
  • 2001 - A. Wayne Mackay (Sackville, NB
  • 2000 - Joseph J Arvay (Victoria, BC