August 30, 1972
Rosemary Brown is elected as a provincial MLA in British Columbia and becomes the first black woman to sit in a legislative assembly in Canada.
Originally from Jamaica, she moved to Canada in 1951 to attend university, where she studied social work. An engaged activist, she will work tirelessly as an advocate against social inequality, racism, and sexism, and will become a staunch defender of social and racial justice. She will become a prominent member of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in British Columbia.
Rosemary Brown will form a committee to eliminate sexism in school textbooks and curricula. She will also play a major role in establishing the Berger Commission on the Family, and in introducing legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sex or marital status.
In 1975, she will become the first black woman to run for the leadership of a federal political party. She will finish second to Ed Broadbent in the NPD leadership race.
After her political career, she will be a professor of Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. In recognition of her exceptional life of public service, she will receive numerous awards, including the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada, as well as 15 honorary doctorates.
As a writer and speaker, Rosemary Brown will continue fighting for social justice until her death in April 2003.
To learn more:
Library and Archives Canada
Government of Canada
The Canadian Encyclopedia
Photo of Rosemary Brown, the first black woman to sit in a legislative assembly in Canada.