Dynamic changemakers convene at this year’s Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium

April 27, 2021

Every year, SFU’s department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS) honours the important legacy of the late Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman to be elected to a provincial legislature (in BC, 1972) and the first Black woman to run for a federal party leadership (the NDP in 1975). 

On May 6, 2021 at this year's Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium, GSWS is proud to have the Hon. Melanie Mark (Nisga'a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway) Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport and first Indigenous woman elected to the BC legislature opening the event while two exceptional SFU community members are being recognized for their advocacy and work in social justice: 

  • Dr. June Francis, associate professor from SFU’s Beedie School of Business, will receive the Rosemary Brown Award for Women, will be awarded to Dr. June Francis, associate professor from SFU’s Beedie School of Business. 

  • Anya Sass, an undergraduate in  GSWS and political science, will receive the Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Award in Social Justice   

Don't miss what promises to be an important and engaging discussion on current issues of diversity, ongoing inequalities, and ways to create positive change!

RSVP  for the event Thursday, May 6, 2021 from 4:30 - 6:30 on Zoom webinar


As the first Indigenous woman elected to the BC legislative assembly in 2016, Melanie Mark was also the first Indigenous woman holding a cabinet position as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. She is the current for Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, and Sport. She is also SFU alum, holding a BA degree in political science. 

Mark has been dedicated to issues in social, environmental and economic justice; 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.

In addition to her work as a professor of marketing at SFU, Dr. June Francis 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.

Anya Sass is an undergraduate student had an unwavering commitment providing intersectional and compassionate social justice solutions. Completing a double-major in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies and political science at SFU she has also volunteered locally with Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia and with the Muslim Food Bank.  

Today, Sass is helping migrants and refugees resettle in Cape Town, South Africa and taking on a new challenge doing advocacy work overseas. 

After completing a semester abroad at the University of Cape Town, she completed two volunteer internships in Cape Town: one with the Adonis Musati Project and another with the Advocacy Programme at the Scalabrini Center of Cape Town.