Rosemary Brown (politician)

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Rosemary Brown

Rosemary Brown Canada.jpg
MLA for Vancouver-Burrard
In office
Serving with Norman Levi
Preceded byHarold James Merilees
Bert Price
Succeeded byriding dissolved
MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds
In office
Preceded byRaymond Loewen
Succeeded byDavid Mercier
Personal details
Rosemary Wedderburn

(1930-06-17)June 17, 1930
Kingston, Jamaica
DiedApril 26, 2003(2003-04-26) (aged 72)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Political partyNew Democratic
EducationMcGill University (BA)
University of British Columbia (MA)

Rosemary Brown, PC OC OBC (née Wedderburn; June 17, 1930 – April 26, 2003), was a Canadian politician.

Early years[edit]

Rosemary Brown was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1930, and moved to Canada in 1951 to study social work at McGill University in Montreal. She proceeded to earn a Master of Social Work at the University of British Columbia.[1]

Political history[edit]

She served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the British Columbia legislature as a part of the New Democratic Party from 1972–86, making her the first Black Canadian woman to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature.[1]

In 1975, she became the first black woman to run for the leadership of a Canadian federal party (and only the second woman, after Mary Walker-Sawka), finishing a strong second (with 40.1% of the votes on the fourth and final ballot) to Ed Broadbent in that year's New Democratic Party leadership election.[2]

After departing politics, she became a professor of women's studies at Simon Fraser University. In 1993, she was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and served until 1996. In 1995, she was awarded the Order of British Columbia and in 1996 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.[1]

Brown was sworn to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada as a member of the federal Security Intelligence Review Committee, responsible for overseeing the actions of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, a role which she held from 1993 to 1998. She also served on the Order of Canada Advisory Committee from 1999 until her death in 2003.[3]


She died of a heart attack on April 26, 2003, aged 72, in Vancouver, British Columbia.[3]


Canada Post featured Brown on a Canadian postage stamp released on February 2, 2009.[4]

On June 17, 2005, a park in Brown's former provincial riding of Vancouver-Burrard was dedicated to and named for her.[5]


  • Brown, Rosemary. Being Brown: a very public life. Toronto: Random House, 1989.


  • Documentary - For Jackson: A Time Capsule From His Two Grandmothers (Biography of Rosemary Brown)
  • Rosemary Brown profile,
  1. ^ a b c "Rosemary Brown". Historica Canada. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  2. ^ Morton, Desmond (1986). The new democrats, 1961-1986: the politics of change. Toronto, Ontario: Copp Clark Pitman. ISBN 0-7730-4618-6.
  3. ^ a b "Rosemary Brown 1930-2003 Legislator, social activist, feminist". Contemporary Black Biography. 2005. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Abraham Doras Shadd & Rosemary Brown". Canada Post. Canada Post. February 2, 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Rosemary Brown Park". City of Vancouver: Park Finder. Retrieved 14 May 2017. On June 17th, 2005 this park was dedicated and named for Rosemary Brown, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly who served the Vancouver-Burrard riding from 1972-1979. Ms. Brown died in 2003 and the park was officially opened on the anniversary of her birth.