Rosemary Brown, born in Jamaica in 1930, was the first Black woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada in 1972. Brown, a trailblazing social democrat, spent her life and political career working to eliminate barriers.
Brown immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1950 and began her career as a social worker and university counsellor. Prior to becoming an elected official, She was involved in a number of causes to advance the status of women, people of colour and immigrants. In 1965, Brown helped establish the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (BCAACP). She was also a founding member and Ombudswoman of the Vancouver Status of Women Council.
Brown was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 1972 provincial general election, having ran as a New Democratic Party candidate in the riding of Vancouver-Burrard. During her time as an elected official, Brown worked to improve women’s working and social conditions, as well as the rights of the elderly, people with disabilities, and immigrants. In 1975, she ran unsuccessfully for leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
In 1988, Brown retired from politics and became a professor of women’s studies at Simon Fraser University.
Rosemary Brown has received a number of awards for her outstanding contributions to social democracy, women’s rights and racial justice:
1972 - National Black Coalition Award
1973 - United Nations, Human Rights Fellowship
1989 - YWCA, Woman of Distinction Award
1991 - University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society, Great Trekker Award
1995 - Government of British Columbia, Order of British Columbia
1996 - Government of Canada, Order of Canada
2001 - Government of Jamaica, Commander of the Order of Distinction
2002 - Canadian Labour Congress, Award for Outstanding Service to Humanity
2002 - Harry Jerome Award
Rosemary Brown. Welcome to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.leg.bc.ca/wotv/pages/featured-women/rosemary-brown.aspx
Rosemary Brown. BC Black History Awareness Society. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://bcblackhistory.ca/rosemary-brown/