Brown, Rosemary

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Brown, Rosemary

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Rosemary Brown is remembered for her empowering speeches that inspired all who listened, but even more so for her contribution to Canadian politics, feminism, human rights, and international development. Rosemary was born in Jamaica on June 17, 1930. She moved to Canada in 1950 to attend McGill University where she obtained an undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies. In 1955, she relocated to British Columbia, where is earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of British Columbia and married Dr. William Brown after which she began a family. Drawn to feminism and the peace movement, Rosemary established the Vancouver Status of Women. In 1972, she became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the riding of Vancouver-Burrard and thus became the first Black woman elected to the B.C. legislature, where she served as a MLA for 14 years until 1986 when she retired from politics. In 1975, she sought the federal leadership of the New Democratic Party and lost to Ed Broadbent by a matter of 4 votes. As a MLA for B.C., Rosemary promoted equality and human rights. In her political campaigns she fought for the elimination of sexism in textbooks, against discrimination, and for the equality of women, as well as legislation on issues such as affirmative action and laws that protected rape victims. After leaving politics in 1986, Rosemary became the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Professor at Simon Fraser University in Women’s Studies. In1988, Brown became CEO for MATCH International, an international development agency. Following this, she served as the organization’s Special Ambassador and then President. Between 1993 and 1996, Rosemary served as Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Over her career, significant honors for Rosemary included earning many honorary doctorates from many Canadian universities including the University of Toronto, Dalhousie, and the University of Victoria, as well as being the 1995 recipient of the Order of British Columbia. Rosemary passed away on April 26, 2003 leaving behind three children, as well as many grandchildren.

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