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The Honourable Selwyn Romilly

$10,930.00 (raised so far)

About The Honourable Selwyn Romilly

Retired Justice, Honourable Selwyn Romilly, 83, died peacefully in his sleep on September 23, of cancer, in the presence of his wife at home.

Selwyn was appointed to the BC Provincial Court on November 15, 1974 at the age of 34, one of the youngest appointments to the Bench. He was the first Black person to be appointed to any court in British Columbia and only the second Black person to be appointed to any court in Canada. He has been described by colleagues and friends as a “legal giant”. In 1991, Selwyn was voted by BC Lawyers to be one of the four best Provincial Court Judges in the province. Judge Romilly remained a member of the BC Provincial Court until his appointment to the BC Supreme Court on November 15, 1995. He was the recipient of many awards and recognition from BC, Canada and Trinidad which included Outstanding Contribution to Criminal Law in BC by the Canadian Bar Association (BC Branch), 2014. He was also recognized for his contribution to the Black/African community.

Known to friends as Selos, Selwyn was born to Reginald and Thelma Romilly in Trinidad. He attended Queens Royal College (QRC) where the motto “Certant Omnes Sed Non Omnibus Palmam (All strive, but the prize is not for all)” inspired his earlier ambitions to work hard to succeed despite many obstacles. After graduating from UBC Law School and articling in Kamloops, he married Lorna in 1967, the love of his life, who agreed to marry him despite the marriage offer including a move to Smithers, BC.

Ever modest, Selwyn was known for his humour in the court room, in marriage ceremonies, in talks at conferences, to high school students, and at seniors’ centres, and with those he met in walks around the seawall. Colleagues appreciated that “he always kept up to date and was willing to share his knowledge and brilliant papers on critical topics.” Friends said that “every encounter was filled with happiness and joy.”
Selwyn is survived by Lorna as well as his children in blood, spirit, and law: Jason Romilly; Charis Romilly Turner and husband Mike; David St. Pierre and wife Petra and their children and grandchildren; his siblings Val, Mervyn and wife Marisa and their children, grandchildren, and Althea. He leaves behind a large extended family of in-laws, cousins, nephews, and nieces. He will also be greatly missed by his many friends, West Indian peers, legal colleagues, and those he has mentored, coached, and inspired.

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The impact of your support

The St. Pierre, Romilly, Nathanson Entrance Award in Law for Black Students was announced in June 2021. This entrance award is given to domestic students entering the JD program who identify as Black, demonstrate financial need, and have a history of community service or volunteerism. Preference will be given to students who have demonstrated an interest in criminal law.

Your gift to the award will pay tribute to Selwyn’s life and career by supporting Black students as they begin their legal education at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC.

Messages of Remembrance

All Messages
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  • I was a very young lawyer when I first appeared before Selwyn in Burnaby Provincial Court, where we all were treated with respect and, as many have noted, humour. He was a welcome guest at our little law firm's annual Christmas party. As the years went on I appeared before him in the Supreme Court - despite his elevation he was exactly the same Selwyn. And, finally, when I was appointed, as a Master, to the court Selwyn was one of the first to seek me out and congratulate me. I still recall the image of him striding down the court hallway toward me, resplendent in purple tie and matching striped shirt, to shake my hand. Hierarchy or rank did not seem to impress or concern Selwyn at all. Selwyn brought so much to the court; he was the go-to guy on all matters or questions criminal and brought a spark to every court conference or dinner. He will be missed.

    Doug Baker, Colleague
  • In honor of my dear cousin, friend and mentor. A man with compassion, courage, and love of family, and best of all a wonderful laugh we will never forget.

    Ada Patricia(Patsy) Romilly MD and Godwin Phillips, Cousin
List of Donors
All Donors
  • Irene Plett

  • Melanie Ash

  • Laura Howard/David Howard

  • Cunliffe Barnett

  • Ronald Rogers

  • Linda Foster and Geoff Shellard

  • Daniel Choiselat

  • Ethel and David Frankel

  • Yuki Matsuno

  • Vance Harris

  • Jan Downes

  • Karin Mickelson

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