Skip to main content

About Walter Tarnopolsky

walter tarnopolskyWalter Surma Tarnopolsky, judge, university professor, born in 1932 at Gronlid, Saskatchewan, received his education from the University of Saskatchewan, B.A. 1953, LL.B. 1957, Columbia University, M.A. 1955, and the London School of Economics, LL.M. 1962. Tarnopolsky taught law at several Canadian universities, specialized in the field of human rights and civil liberties.

He was a professor of law with the University of Saskatchewan 1959-1960 and 1963-1967, the University of Ottawa, 1962-1963 and 1979-1983, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, 1967-1968 and 1972-1979, and the University of Windsor, 1968-1972, where he was also Dean of Law. He briefly served as the Vice-President (Academic) of York University in 1972.

Read more …About Walter Tarnopolsky

Award description


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.


  • 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 2021 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. 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 from ICJ Canada 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

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.


The deadline for nominations is June 30th, 2021.