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The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada doesn't go to church every week, but a religious upbringing and fundamentalist Christian parents taught her that belief in something "beyond today" can help.

In an interview with the Women's Television Network, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin gives a rare glimpse into personal details, ranging from her upbringing to how she dealt with her first husband's death.

The interview, with WTN.CA: Current Affairs for Women, is to be aired tonight.

Chief Justice McLachlin, who is from Pincher Creek, Alta., said she was influenced by fundamentalist Christian parents who were "fervent believers."

In her early years in the 1950s she attended a Pentecostal church in a town of conservative people who took their religious beliefs seriously.

"People were expected to abide by certain conceptions of what was tolerable and not," she said.

Chief Justice McLachlin, who on Jan. 7 replaced the retiring Antonio Lamer, said she still believes religion is "very important." She is not a fundamentalist Christian, but attends church often, although not every week.

"I learned to appreciate the role that religious fellowship and spirituality can play in helping people deal with the problems that life sends their way, and how prayer can help, how a belief in something beyond today can help."

Chief Justice McLachlin, the eldest of five children, said it's tough to pinpoint the influence her religious upbringing has. "It all goes into a big mix.

"But I suppose that we have the evidence. I think I'm a person who thinks morals and ethics are important. I'm also a person who thinks tolerance is important."

She spoke about how she dealt with the death of her first husband, Rory McLachlin, of cancer.

"You have to go on. You have no choice. There are other people who are depending on you. There are other things that must be done, and so you've got to pick yourself up. You can't indulge yourself excessively. You've got to carry on."

The first woman to lead the Supreme Court also said her gender may have played a role in her first bench appointment in 1981 to the County Court of Vancouver.

"Gender may have been a factor because at that time there were very few women on the courts and they were looking for more, and there weren't a lot of women out there to choose from. But at the same time, there was always an insistence that whoever you appointed have the necessary qualifications."

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