The Honourable Benjamin Hewak was born in Winnipeg in 1935. He attended St. John's Technical High School, where he was prominent in sports and other student activities, and subsequently the University of Manitoba (B.A. 1956) and the Manitoba Law School (LL.B. 1960). He served as a Crown Attorney for five years before commencing the private practice of law, principally as defence counsel in criminal cases, in 1965. In 1971 he was appointed to the County Court and in 1977 he became a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba. From 1985 until his retirement earlier this year, he was Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench.
Ben Hewak has been an alderman in West Kildonan, an active member of the board of the Seven Oaks Hospital Foundation, and a member of the board of the Holy Family Nursing Home. He has made a distinguished contribution to the Canadian-Ukranian cultural life as president of the Ukranian National Youth Federation, as chairman of the Rusalka Ukranian Dance Ensemble, and through participation in the work of the Ukranian Cultural and Educational Centre, the Centre for Ukranian Canadian Studies, the Osvita Foundation, and other organizations.
Benjamin Hewak, as Chief Justice during a period of change and challenge for the courts, was attuned to the social interest in, and need for, open, accessible and affordable justice. He welcomed and encouraged useful and continuous reform and experiment, invited the cooperation of Bar and public in the process of change, and reported fully and faithfully to the larger community on the work of the court and the issues it has to confront.
Most fittingly, his leadership and service was this year recognized by the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award of the Manitoba Bar Association.