Cape Breton University is proud to honour The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, CC, QC for his accomplished legal career, selfless service to the public sector as well as his personal dedication to Aboriginal rights and First Nations reconciliation.
Mr. Iacobucci was born to Italian immigrants in Vancouver just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. His parents were considered enemy aliens when he was a young child, which posed many significant challenges for the family. The son of a steel foundry worker, Mr. Iacobucci was discouraged from speaking his mother tongue but learned a great deal about the values of hard work and frugality from his father and mother. Those lessons stuck with Mr. Iacobucci throughout his lengthy and distinguished career in law, academia and public service.
However, those early difficulties with race and heritage, experienced before Canada officially embraced multiculturalism, played an undeniable role in Mr. Iacobucci’s later interest in trying to help solve the many societal challenges facing Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
Mr. Iacobucci earned degrees from the University of British Columbia and Cambridge University. He started working in 1964 as a Wall Street lawyer with a New York firm. He took a professorship with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, where he spent 18 years teaching, rising to become the university’s Dean of Law, Vice-President, Internal Affairs and, eventually, Vice-President and Provost.
In 1985, Mr. Iacobucci was appointed Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General for Canada, and, three years later, became Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada. In 1991, he was named a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Iacobucci has received many honorary degrees from universities across Canada and one from the Università della Calabria in Cosenza, Italy. He is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of St. John’s College, Cambridge.
In 2007, Mr. Iacobucci was appointed a Companion in the Order of Canada and, two years later, was presented with the Justice Medal for lifetime achievement from the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice. He was honoured in 2010 with induction into Toronto’s Italian Walk of Fame and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012.
Mr. Iacobucci resides in Toronto, Ontario with his wife of 52 years, Nancy.