On July 30, 2022, after 30 years of service as the chief justice of Alberta, Fraser retired. To honour her, Alberta’s government is installing commemorative plaques that recognize her career and accomplishments in Alberta’s justice system.

Throughout her career, Fraser led efforts in various areas, including promoting social context education for judges, modernizing the court administration system and promoting human rights and freedoms at home and around the world to improve access to justice. As a result, Albertans have continued to enjoy a responsive, accountable and forward-thinking justice system.

“As the first female chief justice of Alberta, the Hon. Catherine Fraser’s place in Alberta legal history would be secure. Her landmark appointment was followed by three decades of outstanding service to the Alberta public. These plaques and scholarships will help bring greater public attention to her contributions to our province’s history.”

Mickey Amery, Minister of Justice

Fraser was appointed by the federal government to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in 1989 and then to the Court of Appeal of Alberta in 1991. In 1992, at the age of 44, she became the youngest chief justice appointed in Alberta and the first woman appointed to the position of chief justice of a province.

“It was my privilege to have served Albertans as chief justice of Alberta for 30 years. I am grateful and humbled by the creation of scholarships and commemorative plaques in recognition of my tenure as chief justice. I am particularly pleased that the scholarships are directed to principles and values fundamental to our society and democracy, including equality, and that the plaques serve as a reminder that everything I did, and tried to do as chief justice, was in aid of improving the delivery of justice and protecting our country’s constitutional structure and the rule of law.”

Catherine Fraser, former chief justice of Alberta

Two $12,500 scholarships in Fraser’s name are awarded annually to students at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary law schools who best embody her commitment to a fair and equitable justice system. Recipients are selected based on academic standing, LSAT score and a demonstrated involvement in volunteer activity.

“Scholarships are yet another avenue for students to continue their studies for rewarding careers, especially when they honour groundbreaking and inspirational Albertans like chief justice Fraser. Congratulations to this year’s recipients.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education

Shelah Kwok (University of Alberta) and Cindy Chen (University of Calgary) are the first recipients of the Fraser scholarships. The next scholarships will be awarded in February 2024.

“It is truly an honour to be a part of chief justice Fraser's legacy. Chief justice Fraser's lifelong dedication to democratic principles and her commitment to delivering fair and equal justice carved the legal landscape for all Albertans. These fundamental values will continue to guide and inspire me throughout my legal career.” 

Cindy Chen, scholarship recipient

Quick facts

  • On Nov. 28, 2022, the Government of Canada announced the appointment of Ritu Khullar as the new chief justice of Alberta to replace chief justice Fraser.
  • In 2022, chief justice Fraser, along with the chief justices of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Justice, received a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medal in recognition of her contributions to society.