Late Ms. Daurene E. Lewis, C.M.


Senator Statement: Late Ms. Daurene E. Lewis, C.M. Senator Jane Cordy February 28th, 2013

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I speak today in remembrance of a wonderful Nova Scotian, Miss Daurene Lewis. Daurene's ancestors were Black Loyalists who came from the United States in an effort to escape slavery and war and settled in Nova Scotia in 1783. She traces her specific family roots to Rose Fortune, a young girl who settled in Nova Scotia after having escaped the American Revolution.

Daurene's parents insisted that all three of their children receive a proper education. Daurene enrolled at Dalhousie University in order to study nursing. After completing her nursing degree, she moved to Toronto to work but returned to Nova Scotia when her mother took ill.

Her mother was a skilled weaver, and so Daurene learned the skill from her in order to preserve that family tradition. She eventually became a skilled textile artist and opened a weaving and design studio, which also served as a gathering spot for artisans in the community.

Daurene first entered politics when she ran for a seat on the Annapolis Royal town council in 1979. In 1984 she was elected as the first Black female mayor to be elected in Canada. Daurene insisted that her aim was, "to be a good mayor, not a good lady mayor or a good black lady mayor." In 1988 she also became the first Black woman in Nova Scotia to run in a provincial election.

Daurene was a tireless volunteer and served on many provincial boards, including the Premier's Council on the Economy. She was Chair of the Africville Heritage Trust and was instrumental in building a replica of Halifax's historic Africville Church. She had been principal of two Nova Scotia community college campuses in the Halifax region and for the past decade had been vital to their growth and development.

She also completed her Master of Business Administration and served as Executive Director at Mount Saint Vincent University's Centre for Women in Business. In 2002 she was the recipient of the Order of Canada.

Daurene Lewis passed away on January 26 of this year. I am certainly privileged to have known her. When one asked Daurene for her advice, one was always given a well thought out response, whether it was the response one wanted or not.

I will leave honourable senators with this quotation from Daurene Lewis: "If I could teach one thing to the next generation, it would be that no one should accept the status quo."

She certainly did not accept the status quo, and for that we thank her. She made Nova Scotia a better place. I would like to extend my condolences to Daurene's family.