Justice Inger HANSEN

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  • "I met Inger at UBC Law School in 1958 where I was the..."
    - Thomas Hara
  • "I remember Inger Hansen from when I worked at Penitentiary..."
    - Gerry Wiggett
  • "I was a young friend of INGER in the early Sixties along..."
    - Hans Merkelbach
  • "It's been a pleasure working for Inger. Her wonderful smile..."
    - Mireille Kanaan
  • "I had the good fortune to do some work for her on a couple..."
    - Bob Publicover
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HANSEN, Justice Inger (Retired)
Passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 28, with her close and dear friend, Julia Ginley, by her side.
Born in Denmark May 11, 1929, Inger Hansen combined a professional life dedicated to public service, accountable government and the advancement of human rights with life- long passions for learning, travel and the arts. In these ways, she provided a model to her friends, young and old, on how to live fully and generously.
The only child of Jens Peter Marius Hansen (1903-1988) and Agnes Marie Jørgensen (1904-1977), she is survived and will be sadly missed by her cousin Henning Hansen (Jesse) in Denmark.
Inger will be forever cherished by friends, Julia Ginley (Michael) of Ottawa and Lynn Freeman (Russell) of Kingston and as "Auntie Inger" by their adult children, Chris, Sarah, Andrew, Jamie, and Angela. In good health, Inger appreciated the company of many personal friends and professional colleagues. In her later years, as dementia restricted her capacity to live independently, she continued to live with grace and humour.
Inger enthusiastically participated in academics, arts and athletics in her early years but grew up quickly during the German occupation of Denmark. In the immediate post-war period, she travelled throughout Europe. She visited Canada for the first time in 1950 and emigrated a few years later, supporting herself through a variety of occupations, before enrolling in law school at the University of British Columbia. Following her graduation in 1960, Inger practised law in British Columbia, mainly as counsel in criminal matters.
She subsequently joined the federal Department of Justice, working primarily on matters related to penitentiary services and inmates' rights. This proved invaluable experience for her appointment in 1973 as the first Penitentiary Ombudsman, a position which was established in response to much dissatisfaction within the prison system, following the riot in Kingston Penitentiary in 1971. It is interesting that her final chapter comes at the same time as the final chapter for the Kingston Penitentiary.
She achieved another first in 1977, with her appointment to the Human Rights Commission as Canada's first Privacy Commissioner, responsible for complaints relating to privacy rights and data protection, a field in which she soon became an internationally recognized authority. In 1983 she was appointed as Canada's first Information Commissioner. In 1991, Inger began a new career, with her appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice, serving in Kitchener, Toronto and Ottawa, before serving on the criminal bench in Perth for several years until 2003.
In these many roles, Inger was a pioneer, serving her adopted country with wisdom, compassion and diligence, characteristics that were also greatly appreciated by the International Bar Association which she supported through numerous volunteer leadership roles. These and other accomplishments won Inger many awards and honours, including honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Carleton and Trent Universities, as well as the Order of Commander of Dannebrog, Denmark's highest civilian honour, with the assent of the Queen of Denmark in 2000. She earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Queen's University in 1996.
In her final years, her life was enriched by the warm presence of several companions, including Anna Ozers, Mireille Kanaan, Georgette Dennis and companions from Libra Seniors including , Jill Crocker, France Robidoux, Bernadette Tracz and Artemis Soleil . A special thank you to Lisa Swant from Libra Seniors who provided service above and beyond what was expected of a private agency.
Julia and Lynn want to thank the nursing and personal care staff at the Gary J. Armstrong and previously, the Peter D. Clarke Centre (Nepean) and send a special thank you to Dr. Degidio and the staff on the 5th floor of General Hospital for their immeasurable kindness and support in the last days.
Friends are invited to visit Beechwood Cemetery & Funeral Services, 280 Beechwood Ave. Ottawa, Saturday October 26, 2013 after 12 noon. A memorial service will be held in the Sacred Space at 1 p.m. followed by a reception in honor of Inger. Donations in remembrance of Inger may be made to the Alzhiemer Society. Online condolences may be made at www.beechwoodcemetery.com.


Published in The Ottawa Citizen from Oct. 2 to Oct. 10, 2013
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