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Celebrating Black History in Canada: Rosemary Brown

February 28, 2023

To end off Black History Month we'd like to highlight an incredible individual who has transformed the landscape of Canadian politics and human rights.

Rosemary Brown was an accomplished Canadian politician, professor, and social activist. She was born in Jamaica in 1930 and immigrated to Canada in 1951. Rosemary was the first Black woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada and the first Black woman to run for leadership of a major political party in Canada.

Rosemary Brown was a pioneer in Canadian politics and social justice. She was an advocate for women’s rights, civil rights, and social reform. She was a member of the NDP and was the party’s first woman to run for party leadership. She was also the first Black woman to be appointed to a cabinet position. In addition to her political career, Rosemary served as Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1993 to 1996. She was also a professor of women's studies at Simon Fraser University.

Rosemary Brown is an incredibly important figure in Canadian history. Her work and activism paved the way for other women, particularly Black women, to enter into politics. She was a champion of social reform and her legacy continues to inspire many. Rosemary's story can be found within the pages of her autobiography "Being Brown: A Very Public Life" (1989), adding author to the long list of her lifetime achievements. Rosemary Brown's legacy is a powerful reminder that it is possible to create change, especially if you are the first to do so.

Rosemary was featured on the 2009 Canadian Black History Month Postage Stamp Issue.

If you are interested in learning more about Rosemary Brown's achievements, contributions and legacy, you can learn more at the following sources:

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