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Honorary Degrees

Honorary degrees recognize individuals who have accomplished extraordinary achievements and remarkable service. These individuals have demonstrated a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in one or more field; provided outstanding service to the greater society through non-academic achievements and/or public service; or made noteworthy contributions in areas relevant to the mission of the university and/or local community.

Awarded for outstanding achievement in social science in the broadest sense, or significant community contributions at the local, national or international levels.

Honorary Degree Recipient

The Honourable Julie Thorburn

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

The Honourable Julie Thorburn

In recognition of her advocacy for improved access to justice and community service with underserved groups in Ontario, francophones and young women, her demonstration of the values of integrity as a member of the justice system, and her promotion of equity, intellectual resilience and innovation in her career trajectory, the university proudly confers upon The Honourable Julie Thorburn the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. 

Justice Thorburn was appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 2019 following a distinguished 12-year judicial career on the province’s Superior Court. Among her many career highlights, she has served as Team Lead of the Divisional Court, member of the long trials criminal team, and on the commercial list. She has been a Deputy Judge of the Northwest Territories since 2009.

She served as President of the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, an association of more than 800 judges, and served on the International Board as one of two North American directors.

Until her appointment to the Court of Appeal, she was a Board Director of the Ontario Superior Court Judges’ Association. She is now a member of Council for the Canadian Superior Court Judges’ Association.

She co-authored a 2015 report to improve access to justice for French-speaking litigants, prepared at the request of the Attorney General of Ontario, and has worked with young people as part of the Ontario Justice Education Network Board of Directors, planning and executing programs with youth to help them better understand our justice system.

Justice Thorburn holds a Bacalauréat en interprétation chant from l’Université de Montréal, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Queen’s University. She also has a Certificat en droit international privé from the Hague Academy of International Law. Following her graduation from law school, she was a clerk with the Supreme Court of Ontario. She then joined the law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP where she was head of the Information Communications and Entertainment law group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.

She was a sessional lecturer at Osgoode Hall Law School from 1993 to 1997. She co-authored The Law of Confidential Business Information, and Canada Law Book; and is a contributing author of Digital Democracy, Policy and Politics in the Wired World; Ontario Courtroom Procedure (fourth edition); and the Canada Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

She has lived in Canada, France and Italy. Justice Thorburn is also an accomplished musician and has an Associate Diploma in Performance Piano and the Silver Medal in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music.