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In praise of Queen’s own “shot in the arm”

In praise of Queen’s own “shot in the arm”

Letters to the Editor

Canada Post - Stamp with Rosemary Brown, LLD'90© Canada Post 2009, Reproduced with permission

The Queen’s community will be delighted to learn that in February Canada Post issued a stamp commemorating the life of Rosemary Brown, LLD’90, as part of its celebration of Black History Month. She served on Queen’s Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1997. As one of her many friends and countless admirers, I can imagine her whole-hearted support for the recent decision by the Board to name a building at the university in honour of Robert Sutherland.

Canada Post offers this biographical sketch on its website: “Rosemary Brown (née Wedderburn) was born in Jamaica in 1930. She moved to Canada in 1950 to study at McGill University, where she would first encounter Canadian racism. Throughout her trailblazing career as an activist, Brown would fight for her rights and those of other women and minorities. Brown moved to Vancouver in 1955 to marry Bill Brown. There, she became the first Black woman elected to public office in Canada when in 1972 she was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the B.C. Legislature. After 14 years of service as an MLA, Ms Brown took a job in Ottawa in 1989 with MATCH International, a development agency run by and for women, and served as Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Ms Brown passed away in 2003.”

I well remember an interview Peter Gzowski, LLD’90, did with Rosemary Brown on the old CBC Radio program This Country in the Morning while she was a BC MLA. “Rosemary,” he said, “I hear you are a thorn in the side of the premier.” “I prefer to think of myself as a shot in the arm,” she replied.

So she was here at Queen’s.

Roberta Hamilton
Professor Emerita
Sociology/Women’s Studies
Kingston, ON

[Queen's Alumni Review 2009-2 cover]