BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS)

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.

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Rosemary Brown

Rosemary BrownPolitician, feminist, writer, educator, lecturer and mother, Rosemary Brown has contributed much to her adopted country since she came to Canada from Jamaica in 1950, where she was born on June 17th 1930.

In 1956, Ms. Brown helped in the founding of the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (BCAACP). The BCAACP worked to open up housing and employment to Black people in British Columbia, and for the introduction of human rights legislation in the provincial parliament.

Rosemary was a strong and effective worker for women’s rights in Canada and in the world. Her commitment was constantly demonstrated, both as the “Ruth Wyn Woodward Professor in Women’s Studies” at Simon Fraser University and as a member of the British Columbia Legislature for 14 years. She also held the position of Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Before that appointment, she was the Executive Director, then special Ambassador of MATCH International Centre, a non-governmental organization working with women in the third world. In 1973, she received a United Nation’s Human Rights Fellowship. She is a founding member of the Vancouver Status of Women Council and was its first Ombudswoman.

In 1988, she was featured in the National Film Board’s documentary, “No Way, Not Me,” a twenty-five minute film addressing issues of poverty among young women.

Ms. Brown received many awards including a Woman of Distinction Award from the YWCA in Vancouver in 1989 and honorary doctorates of Law from several Canadian Universities including Queens, McGill, Dalhousie, Toronto, Victoria and the University of British Columbia. In 1995, she was given the Order of British Columbia and the Ontario Black Achievement Award. She sat on the board of the Canadian Women’s foundation, the Advisory Council of the Global Fund for Women, the North South Institute and Queens University. She was a patron of the National Council of Black Education Trust Fund. She was a life member of the Privy Council of Canada and a member of Canada’s Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is a watchdog for the Canadian Intelligence Services Committee.

Ms. Brown thought that it was important that issues of human rights, poverty, racism, and sexism should be addressed at the early stages of students’ education.

In 1996 Rosemary Brown received the Order of Canada, and on February 2, 2009 she was featured on a Canadian postage stamp.