Sheila Arthurs (née Rubin) of Ottawa, Ontario, died peacefully after a brief illness on January 20, 2021, at the age of 84. Born and raised in Toronto, she was predeceased by father David, mother Eva, and brother Elliott. Dedicated to social justice, Sheila spent the majority of her career as a proud federal public servant while previously demonstrated a broad base of skills and knowledge working in insurance, community housing and the provincial Justice Secretariat. At Solicitor General Canada she led a number of criminal justice projects including an innovative one in the 1980s helping women in conflict with the law. At Justice Canada, she led the coordination of federal-provincial relations, making a network of lifelong colleagues and friends from coast to coast to coast. Her commitment to social justice went beyond the traditional professional civil servant involvement and included mentoring First Nations personnel in Nunavut. Sheila loved the North and was recognized and thanked by the Nunavut Department of Justice for her dedication, leadership, compassion, sense of humour and wonderful assistance at the time of the creation of Nunavut.
Sheila was always deeply committed to restorative justice community projects, serving for decades on volunteer boards with her beloved John Howard Society. She was especially proud of the Collaborative Justice Program she and others developed at the Ottawa courthouse. People who know her would agree that one of Sheila’s greatest strengths was her ability to bring people together and make connections.
Sheila was also an inveterate traveller to far flung corners of the world, whether sailing up the Amazon or navigating the Tokyo subway. She was also a proud annual graduate of Beginner Italian. And Sheila was an enthusiastic attendee at every movie, theatre, dance and music venue in Ottawa. She would laugh and cry in equal amounts depending on the production.
Many of us will remember the annual Thanksgiving gatherings at her treasured cottage where she welcomed family and friends over the last 30 years or so. Some of us also enjoyed her company and good sense of humour on a regular basis which got better after a few glasses of red wine, but it did take 45 years or so to realize that Sheila liked raw oysters.
Sheila is survived by her adored niece Diane Rubin (Andy) and nephew Jonathan Rubin (Peggy), as well as her treasured great-nephews and -niece Coleman, Jesse, Hannah and David.
Cremation has taken place. There will be no visitation or memorial at this time. A celebration of life will be held when circumstances permit. In lieu of flowers, Sheila would be thrilled if you would make a donation to a John Howard Society (johnhoward.ca) or the Ottawa Collaborative Justice Program (collaborativejustice.ca).
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sheila (Rubin) Arthurs, please visit our floral store.
John Howard Society
809 Blackburn Mews, Kingston ON K7P 2N6
Ottawa Collaborative Justice Program
3rd floor, 161 Elgin Street, Ottawa ON K2P 2K1