Next month, in February, 2009, Canada Post will issue 2 new stamps to commemorate Black History Month. One will show Abraham Doras Shadd, remembered for his 'underground railway' work, and the second will be of Rosemary Brown, well remembered in British Columbia, Canada, for all she did to fight injustice, racism and sexism.
She emigrated from Jamaica to Montreal, Canada in the 1950s where she attended McGill University. This was the first time she encountered racism herself.
In the early 1960s, she came to live in British Columbia, Canada with her husband, Bill Brown. Both were members of the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and she joined the Voice of Women, then the Vancouver Status of Women.
In 1972, she became the first black woman to be elected to public office in Canada when she won a seat in the British Columbia legislature and, later, she was also the first black woman (and the second woman) to run for the leadership of a Canadian federal political party.
Her political career spanned 14 years. After that, in the 1980's, she became the CEO of MATCH International, one of my 'favourite' NGOs, and international development and human rights, especially for women, became her main focus.
She was named to the Order of British Columbia in 1995 and named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 - as "a champion of women's and minority rights and a political and social activist whose contributions to democratic and social processes are exceptional."
For more about Rosemary Brown and women in British Columbia politics, I recommend Anne Edwards' new book, Seeking Balance: Conversations With BC Women In Politics (available from Caitlin Press, 2008: www.caitlin-press.com
I certainly look forward to seeing and sending this stamp. I am only sorry that Canada Post has missed the opportunity to honour Rosemary Brown's legacy by making this a joint commemoration of Black History Month in February and of International Women's Day in March.
Rosemary Brown, brief biography, Heroines.ca: www.heroines.ca/people/brown.html
Order of Canada: www.gg.ca/honours/nat-ord/oc/index_e.asp
Order of British Columbia: www.protocol.gov.bc.ca/protocol/prgs/obc/obc.htm
Black History, Canada, Historica: http://blackhistorycanada.ca
International Women's Day: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/default.asp