Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium on Women & Social Justice

Every year, to honour the important legacy of the late Rosemary Brown, the Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies (GSWS) brings together distinguished scholars, students, service providers, and the broader community together to speak on current issues of diversity, ongoing inequalities, and ways to create positive change. For the seventh Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium, we are excited to feature two distinguished speakers, Hon. Melanie Mark (MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, and Sport) and Dr. June Francis (Associate Professor, SFU’s Beedie School of Business and Director of the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement). 

Preliminary Program:

  • Keynote Address: Hon. Melanie Mark
  • Presentation of Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Award in Social Justice - Anya Sass
  • Presentation of Rosemary Brown Award for Women - Dr. June Francis
  • Closing Keynote Address: Dr. June Francis

About Rosemary Brown:

Rosemary Brown’s life’s work was that of equity and social justice. She was the first Black woman to be elected to a provincial legislature (in BC) in 1972, where she served as MLA from 1972-1986. She was also the first black woman to run for a federal party leadership; when she ran in 1975 for the NDP. She also served as Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights commission from 1993-1996; was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 1995; and the Order of Canada in 1996.

Rosemary Brown served as the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at SFU during 1986-7. GSWS is honoured to continue this connection in her memory and celebrate her work and legacy. 

The Rosemary Brown Award for Women is given out annually by a committee comprised of representatives from the United Nations Association in Canada, Vancouver branch, the BC Association of Social Workers, BC Federation of Labour, the National Congress of Black Women Foundation, the Society for Children and Youth of BC, and the University Women’s Club of Vancouver.

The Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Award in Social Justice is given annually to a GSWS student who has made outstanding contributions to issues of social justice.

Keynote Speakers

Honourable Melanie Mark (Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport)

Elected in 2016, HLI HAYKWHL ẂII XSGAAK, 馬蘭妮| Melanie Mark is the first First Nations woman member of the legislative assembly (MLA) in British Columbia's history, representing the riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

During the 41st parliament, she was appointed as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Melanie remains the only First Nations woman to serve in Cabinet as B.C.'s new Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Melanie is Nisga'a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway. She was born and raised in East Vancouver and has deep roots in northern B.C. and Manitoba.

Melanie is unapologetically passionate about social, environmental and economic justice; she entered politics to disrupt the status quo. Within two months as a minister, she paved a new path by creating the first provincial tuition waiver program for youth from the foster-care system and removed all fees for adults accessing Adult Basic Education.

She is most proud of her work to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, specifically supporting Indigenous teachers and language fluency, and launching the world's first Indigenous law program at the University of Victoria in 2018.

Melanie firmly believes that education is the great equalizer and often says, "a rising tide lifts all canoes."

Melanie's work is inspired by her two daughters Maya and Makayla and the desire for them to have greater access to education and opportunities as they grow up. Family is very important to Melanie and her time with Maya, Makayla, and her extended family keeps her grounded and motivated.

Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Simon Fraser University. She holds a Criminology Diploma from Douglas College/Native Education College and an Advanced Executive Certificate from Queen's School of Business.

Melanie believes strongly that the changes we need to inspire and support future generations require all of us to get on board and paddle together.

Dr. June Francis (Associate Professor, Marketing / Business and Society / Innovation and Entrepreneurship)

June Francis , MBA, LLB, PhD is the Director of the Institute for Diaspora Research and  Engagement  at SFU and Associate Professor at Beedie school of Business. She is Co-Founder of the Co-Laboratorio project that works across sectors and actors to foster racial, ethnic and gender equity and belonging, and social transformation through community-engaged research and the reimagining organizations in public, NGO and private sectors through racial equity lens and decolonizing lens. Originally from Jamaica,  the global scope of her work takes her to South America, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Her research focuses on The Black lives Matter movement and the academy, and markets, diversity, inter-culturality, leadership and participatory engagement approaches and community impact with vulnerable and excluded groups and Covid-19 racial impacts. June was recognized by the Province of British Columbia and the National Congress of Black Women as a Trailblazer. The City of Vancouver also recognized her for her contributions to education and to the City, and she is also the recipient of a Service Award from the Beedie School of Business for her contributions to the community. She was recently  named Chatelaine Trailblazing List of  Black Canadians Making Change Now and Nominated for the 2021 YWCA women of distinction award. A thought leader on racial equity June has given over 50 interviews and seminars in the past year on these issues.

Organized by:

Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, SFU
Rosemary Brown Award for Women Committee
SFU Public Square