BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS)

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.

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Selwyn Romilly

Selwyn RomillySelwyn Romilly, born in Trinidad, is a respected jurist who continues to make significant contributions to his profession and to his community.

After attending Queens Royal College in Port-of-Spain, the oldest secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Romilly immigrated to Canada. There he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1963 and a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the same university in 1966. He met his future wife Lorna at UBC.

They married and moved to Smithers, B.C. where they raised two children. He practised law as a barrister from 1967-1974. On November 15, 1974, he became Judge Romilly and was appointed to the Provincial Court in Terrace. He was the first black person appointed to any court in B.C. He served in Terrace until he was transferred to the Burnaby Provincial Court to preside there in 1978.

In 1995, the Honourable Justice Romilly was elevated to the Superior Court of British Columbia in Vancouver. He was the first black person to be named to the B.C. Supreme Court. Justice Romilly has made significant contributions to judicial and legal education. Conducting seminars and workshops for judges, presenting papers to the Canadian Bar Association, the National Justice Institute, the National Criminal Law Program, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

For decades, Justice Romilly has contributed to the development of the law in British Columbia. A large number of his judgments have been summarized in the Weekly Criminal Bulletin, the BC Digest of Criminal and Sentence Cases, and the Charter of Rights Digest. In 1991, he was voted by B.C. lawyers as one of the four best Provincial Court Judges in the province.

Mr. Justice Romilly has received numerous distinctions and awards for his contributions to the black community and to the legal community generally. He has been a keynote speaker for the Annual Jr. Black Achievement Awards and the BC Black History Awareness Society. He received an award in 1996 from the Harambee Foundation and the Congress of Black Women for his deep commitment to public service. In 1997, Justice Romilly received an award from the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers. He also received a distinguished service award from the Black Law Students Association of Canada and was a speaker and panellist at their conference in Vancouver in 2008.

He has shared his knowledge of jurisprudence with young people and mentored numerous students and clerks of the Court as well as participating as a guest instructor in articling courses for new lawyers.

Justice Selwyn Romilly takes a personal interest in individuals, especially those new to the legal profession. He provides advice from the benefit of his experience with kindness and sincerity, encouraging fledgling legal careers and enriching our community.

The City of Vancouver honoured Justice Romily on his retirement at City Hall on January 20, 2015.