"Walter Tarnopolsky was a dedicated champion of human rights. I can still see him, serious and intelligent, studying his papers and listening attentively to his colleagues, for some new insight", wrote Justice Michael Kirby, of the Australian Supreme Court, for the Third World Congress of Ukrainian Jurists. Justice Tarnopolsky was an important contributor to the drafting of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. In addition, he was a constitutional adviser to the South African government and as well as to the government of Ukraine in drafting that country's constitution which was recently adopted.
Justice Tarnopolsky, the son of Ukrainian pioneers, was born in Saskatchewan. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Saskatchewan and later returned there to teach. For this reason, the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation decided to award the first Tarnopolsky Award at the University of Saskatchewan.
Tarnopolsky taught law at several Canadian universities, specialized in the field of human rights and civil liberties. Between 1959 and 1983, he was a professor of law with, variously, the University of Saskatchewan, University of Windsor, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, and theUniversity of Ottawa. He briefly served as the Vice-President (Academic) of York University in 1972 and was the dean of Law at the University of Windsor from 1968 to 1972.
Justice Tarnopolsky was active in national and international organizations and held numerous executive positions including President of the Federation of Canadian University Students (1957-58), member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (1977-83), president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (1977-81), vice-president of the Board of Directors of Mohyla Institute (1964-66) where he had previously resided as a student, president of the Canadian Foundation of Ukrainian Studies (1976-77). He headed several boards of inquiry for the Ontario Human Rights Commission and under a United Nations fellowship studied human rights in Malaysia, India and Japan. When Ukraine gained independence in 1991, Justice Tarnopolsky worked with Ukrainian officials on developing constitutional rights protection and served on the Board of Foreign Advisors to the Ukrainian Legal Foundation based in Kyiv.
It is proposed that in future years, the award be rotated among Canadian universities with which Justice Tarnopolsky was associated during his career, namely, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Windsor, the University of Ottawa and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto. The Walter Surma Tarnopolsky Award is open to university students, both graduates and undergraduates, studying at a recognized university or institute of higher learning in Ukraine. Recipients must be Ukrainian citizens and fluent in both Ukrainian and either English or French.
First Walter Surma Tarnopolsky Award
The Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation of Toronto has named Yuri Rudiuk, 3rd year law student from Lviv University, Ukraine, the recipient of the first Walter Surma Tarnopolsky Award.
The Award, which promotes the development of democratic institutions, human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine, will allow Yuri Rudiuk to research the Canadian legal system at the Faculty of Law at the University of Saskatchewan, this autumn. Dean Peter MacKinnon stated, "We look forward to having the first Tarnopolsky student here at the University of Saskatchewan, and to our collaboration with the Foundation, and with other universities with which the Honourable Walter Tarnopolsky was associated".
Rudiuk received the Michael and Anna Bardyn Scholarship to participate in the 1996 Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Internship Program in the Canadian Parliament. He was chosen as the best intern out of 31 Ukrainian students who completed the internship in the House of Commons earlier this spring.
"We are very pleased that Yuri Rudiuk has chosen, as the recipient of the Tarnopolsky Award, as his research topic on Reforming Ukraine's Legal System is timely and important" said Ihor Bardyn, President of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation, the Toronto based organization that established the Tarnopolsky Award. Through the Tarnopolsky Award, the Foundation encourages Ukrainian university students to contribute to the process of building the Ukrainian state based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.