On Thursday, April 11, 2024, Women in Law Leadership celebrated WILL Awards Ontario at the prestigious Ritz Carlton, Toronto. Special guests included The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Mr. John Ralston Saul, The Honourable Rosalie Abella, Her excellency Aliya Mawani, Canadian Ambassador to Kuwait, Kathleen Mahoney, K.C., Professor Emerita and WILL Laureate, and special video greetings by The Right Honourable Kim Campbell. The 2024 recipients celebrated at the event were:

Law Firm Leadership Award – McMillan LLP
Mentorship Award – Sudevi Mukherjee-Gothi
Leadership Award – Signe Leisk

The evening culminated in a special presentation to Nurjehan Mawani C.M. LL.D, the recipient of the 2024 WILL Rosalie Silberman Award, followed by a fireside chat between Ms. Mawani and Patrica DeGuire, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Thank you to all who attended to support and celebrate women lawyer leaders who are doing amazing work in the legal profession and in their communities.

Women in Law Leadership Presents the 2024 Rosalie Silberman Abella Award Recipient
Nurjehan Mawani, C.M., LL.D (hon)

Nurjehan Mawani C.M, LL.D. (hon) is a lawyer, public servant, diplomat and global Canadian. She is a trailblazer and champion of justice, gender equity, and inclusive development who has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees in Canada, and to advance rights and educational opportunities for women and girls internationally.

Under her leadership as the Chairperson and Chief Executive of the Immigration Refugee Board, Canada became the first country internationally to recognize gender-related persecution as a ground for refugee status under the Geneva Convention. As Commissioner of the Public Service Commission of Canada she championed equity, inclusion, and representation in the Public Service. From 2005-2019, she went on to serve as Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network, first to the Kyrgyz Republic and then Afghanistan. In both countries, she partnered with multiple stakeholders to improve quality of life, ensuring that women’s voices were included to advance equitable development as a path to peace, progress, and stability.

Nurjehan has received many prestigious honours for her contributions to public service, international development and the advancement of women including the Order of Canada and the Public Service of Canada Outstanding Achievement Award, as well as several honorary doctorates. Among her many recognitions, she received the Human Rights Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the UNIFEM Canada Award for “an innovative ability to bridge law and policy and for far-reaching effects of the guidelines impacting the lives of thousands of refugee women and girls”.

Nurjehan currently serves on a number of boards, including as Governor and Vice-Chairperson of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), sits on Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Environment’s External Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Victoria Forum. She is a founding member of the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges and a Senior Fellow at Massey College – where she serves on the Anti-Black Racism Advisory Council, the Senior Advisory Board of the Afghan Women’s Fellowship Program, and is the inaugural Chair in Global Engagement. In this role, she mentors Junior Fellows – connecting them to changemakers in Canada and around the world to build leadership and foster a deeper understanding of global issues.

Born in Mombasa, Kenya, Nurjehan attended the Inns of Court School of Law in England and was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1968. She was subsequently admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1973 and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1985.



About the Women in Law Leadership Awards:

Women in Law Leadership (WILL) is a Canada Not-for-Profit Corporation dedicated to celebrating and advancing women in the law through recognition and education. Its roots date back to 2009 with the creation of WILL Awards Alberta, co-founded by Sameera Sereda, The Counsel Network, and Diane Pettie, Association of Women Lawyers. Since then, the organization has expanded the WILL Awards across the country and, in partnership with the Law Society of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Alberta, has created an education certification program for women lawyers. Our Lifetime Achievement Award Winners in Alberta include: The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, The Honourable Catherine Fraser, The Right Honourable Kim Campbell. The Honourable Anne McLellan, The Honourable Rosalie Abella, The Honourable Sheilah Martin, The Honourable Ritu Khullar, The Honourable Mary Moreau.

For more information, please contact Jacquelyn Stevens at [email protected]