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Rosemary Brown, 72; First Black Woman in a Canadian Legislature

From Staff and Wire Reports

Rosemary Brown, 72, the first black woman elected to a Canadian legislature, died of an apparent heart attack Saturday at her home in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Brown went to Canada to study at McGill University in Montreal, where she completed her bachelor of arts degree in 1955.

She later completed a bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of British Columbia in 1962 and her master’s in 1965.

Running as a New Democrat, she was elected to the British Columbia Legislature in 1972 and held her seat through 1986, when she left politics to become a professor of women’s studies at Simon Fraser University.

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As a legislator, she formed a committee to eliminate sexism in textbooks and educational curricula, and helped introduce legislation to bar discrimination on the basis of gender or marital status.

Brown ran for national leadership of the New Democrats in 1974, but lost to Ed Broadbent.

She served as chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and was a founding member of the Vancouver Status of Women Council and of the volunteer operation at the Vancouver Crisis Center.


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