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City names new arena after pioneering Burnaby politician Rosemary Brown

Arena is currently under construction at 10th Av. and 18th St. in Edmonds
Former Burnaby MLA and human rights advocate Rosemary Brown has been honourbed by the City of Burnaby with the naming of its latest arena.

A pioneer politician, human rights champion and former Burnaby MLA is having her legacy honoured by the city. 

At Monday's council meeting (May 31), Burnaby council announced the approval of naming a new arena being built at 10th Avenue and 18th Street in Edmonds after Rosemary Brown. 

Brown, born in 1930, was a human rights advocate who used her voice to fight racism, discrimination against women and people of colour.

She helped create the British Columbia Association for Advancement of Coloured People, which worked to address discrimination against Black people in housing and employment as well as advocate for human rights legislation. 

In 1972, Brown made history when she ran for the BC NDP Party and won a seat in the Vancouver-Burrard riding, becoming the first black woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. 

Then, in 1975, Brown once again made history when she became the first woman to run for leader of a major Canadian political party, representing the NDP, but came in second to Ed Broadbent. 

The Vancouver-Burrard riding was then removed in 1979. Brown decided to run in Burnaby and was successful in winning a seat for Burnaby-Edmonds, which she held until 1986. 

On Monday, council also announced that the new community centre on Kensington Avenue would be named after Burnaby soccer star Christine Sinclair.

“Christine Sinclair and Rosemary Brown have been trailblazers and a huge source of inspiration for people of all ages, particularly for girls and young women,” Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said in an announcement. 

"Each of them have made a tremendous impact and the City of Burnaby is proud to honour them by having their names on these marquee recreation facilities.”

Once she retired from politics, Brown was appointed as the Ruth Wyn Woodward Professor in Women's Studies at Burnaby's Simon Fraser University in 1987. 

Brown passed away on April 26, 2003. 

“Our family is thrilled to know that my mother’s life’s work is being remembered in this way,” Brown's daughter, Cleta Brown said in a statement after the announcement. 

"Many of the people who visit this new arena will be new immigrants, women and other people whose lives have benefited directly from the causes she dedicated her life to advancing.”

Brown was also honoured with a commemorative stamp from Canada Post that shows her standing in front of the B.C. Legislative Buildings.