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Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium
on Women & Social Justice

Every year, to honour the important legacy of the late Rosemary Brown, SFU's 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.

We're happy to be supporting GSWS to host the seventh Rosemary Brown Memorial Symposium, which features two distinguished speakers, Hon. Melanie Mark (MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport) and Dr. June Francis (Associate Professor at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, Director of the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement). 


  • Welcome
    • Helen Leung (Chair, SFU Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies)
    • Elder Margaret George (Skawahlook First Nation)
    • Jane Pulkingham (Dean, SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
  • Keynote Address
    • Hon. Melanie Mark (BC Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport)
  • Presentation of Rosemary Brown Undergraduate Award in Social Justice
    • Recipient: Anya Sass
    • Presented by: Tiffany Muller Myrdahl (Senior Lecturer, SFU Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies)
  • Presentation of Rosemary Brown Award for Women
    • Recipient: Dr. June Francis (Associate Professor, SFU Beedie School of Business; Director, SFU Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement)
    • Presented by: Patsy George
  • 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, and 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 1986-87. 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, the 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.


Thursday, May 06, 2021

4:30 PM (PT)


Online event

A link and password to join the event will be sent to registrants via Eventbrite.

Keynote speakers

Melanie Mark


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 BC'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 BC 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.

June Francis


June Francis, MBA, LLB, PhD, is the director of the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement at SFU and an associate professor at SFU's Beedie School of Business. She is co-founder of the Co-Laboratorio project, which works across sectors and actors to foster social transformation and racial, ethnic and gender equity and belonging through community-engaged research and reimagining organizations in public, NGO and private sectors through racial equity and decolonizing lenses.

Originally from Jamaica, the global scope of her work takes her to South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Her research focuses on the Black Lives Matter movement and the academy, markets, diversity, inter-culturality, leadership and participatory engagement approaches and community impact with vulnerable and excluded groups and COVID-19 racial impacts.

June has been recognized by the Province of British Columbia and the National Congress of Black Women as a Trailblazer. The City of Vancouver has recognized her for her contributions to education and to the city, and she is the recipient of a Service Award from the Beedie School of Business for her contributions to the community. She was recently named on Chatelaine's 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 more than 50 interviews and seminars in the past year on these issues.


Accessibility, Technology & Privacy


Closed captioning will be available at this event.

If you have any questions about accessibility for this event, please contact

Registration and password

A password to access this event will be sent to all registrants via email in the days and hours preceeding the event.

Technology requirements

This workshop will be presented in a participatory webinar format. To engage fully you will need:

  • A laptop, computer, or smartphone
  • A webcam
  • A microphone
  • Speakers or headphones

Protecting your privacy

To ensure that we are using online meeting technology in a privacy-conscious way, we are following best practices for this online event series:

  • We will only circulate the meeting link to those who are registered for the event
  • We will password protect the meeting
  • We will enable end-to-end encryption
  • We will not use attention tracking

To protect your own privacy we suggest that:

  • You use a unique email address to log into the webinar. This is so that the webinar platform can’t cross-reference your profile with the rest of your digital profiles under your email address.
  • We suggest you do not use your Facebook profile to log into the webinar. This is so that the webinar platform can’t cross-reference you with your Facebook account.
  • We remind you that whatever you say in the webinar is public and recorded, so please do not share sensitive information about yourself or others, and do not say anything you do not wish to enter the public domain.

To protect the privacy of others we ask that:

  • You do not record or photograph yourself, other participants, or the hosts during the webinar, unless permission is requested and given.