Daurene Lewis Memorial Award

Daurene Lewis

Open to full-time students who will be enrolled in any year of study in eligible Health and Human Services programs at any NSCC Campus.

Eligible programs include

  • Child and Youth Care
  • Continuing Care
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Practical Nursing
  • Social Services
  • Therapeutic Recreation

Application assessment will consider

  • Financial need
  • Community involvement
  • Compassion in helping others
  • Good academic standing
  • Self-identification: African Nova Scotian and female

About the award
This award was established by friends and family of Daurene Lewis to honour her life and legacy.

Daurene Lewis (September 9, 1943-January 26, 2013) scored important “firsts,” including the title of Canada’s first female Black mayor. Her favourite quotation was from Rosemary Brown, Canada’s first Black woman elected to a Canadian Parliamentary body when she was elected to B.C. Legislature in 1972:  “Remember you are twice blessed … you’re Black and you’re a woman.” Her lifetime resonated with protest against injustice.

Born in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia in 1943, her family proudly claimed descent from Black Loyalists who settled in Canada after the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Upon graduation from high school, she trained as a nurse, worked in Toronto and Yarmouth, and taught at Dalhousie University.  Later she ran her own weaving and design business and earned a Master of Business Administration from Halifax’s St Mary’s University.  She was also director of the Centre for Women in Business at Mount Saint Vincent University, a board member of the Vanier Institute for the Family and chaired the Africville Heritage Trust to address the loss of Halifax’s north-end Black community. At her death she was principal for the Nova Scotia Community College.

Lewis also took up a political career, first serving on the Annapolis Royal Town Council in 1979. Three years later, she was appointed deputy mayor. In 1984 she won the top job, marking her as both the province’s first Black mayor and the first Black woman elected to such a position in Canada. In 1988, her unsuccessful bid to join the House of Assembly as a Liberal made her the first woman and African-Canadian to run for such office in Nova Scotia.

When not in office, Lewis remained an active member of the community. Her explanation set out her philosophy: “Involvement on boards, commissions and advisory councils allows me to have input that will help shape policy and practice. Too many of us are limited by societal convention and geographical perspectives to live life to the fullest. I want people to feel valued, happy and excited about their very existence.”  She served as Chair of the Africville Heritage Trust Board, which aimed to restore some of the iconic community that had fallen to bulldozers and racism in the 1960s. In 1993 she received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Mount Saint Vincent University. Two years later, she accepted the United Nations Global Citizenship award. In 2002 she became a Member of the Order of Canada and was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Lewis’ path from a daughter whose father could not receive basic services to a distinguished citizen captured Canada’s slowly shifting attitude to racial prejudice. Her life also confirmed the value of individual action.  As she said, “If I could teach one thing to the next generation, it would be that no one should accept the status quo.” 

Biography submitted was originally written by Ricardo McRae founder of “Black in Canada”, a digital platform for black excellence based in Toronto.

1 @ $1,000
Supplemental Questions
  1. Helping Others Essay

    Please highlight the ways in which you have demonstrated a commitment to helping others.