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Roosevelt (Rosie) Bernard Douglas (1941-2000)

Rosie Douglas

Rosie Douglas came to Canada from Dominica to study at Sir George Williams University in Montreal.  He became involved in the fight for civil rights after attending a lecture by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the University of Toronto in the late 1960s. At that time, Toronto's African Canadian community was organizing rallies, demonstrations, and teach-ins on issues that affected people of African-descent globally as well as locally. Rosie Douglas became a key organizer and frequent speaker at events championing causes affecting people of African descent in Canada and internationally.

In 1964, while at Sir George Williams University, Rosie became leader of the Progressive Conservative student organization. When the national student leader at the time, Joe Clark, refused to address the issue of racism, Rosie left the Conservative Party.

In 1969, as a post-graduate student at McGill University, he participated in what started out as a peaceful demonstration at Sir George Williams University to protest the treatment of Black students by an assistant biology professor.  The protest turned into a two-week sit-in at University's computer centre. The police were sent in to break up the sit-in and investigate the fire that was burning in the computer centre. Rosie was charged with arson and served 18 months in prison before being deported.

Rosie credited visiting First Nations' reserves and Black communities in Nova Scotia for his activist activities. He also encouraged others to become activists in order to change their conditions.

In 1992, Rosie became the leader of the Dominica Labour Party, after the death of his brother, Michael, who led the party before him.  After losing the election of 1995, Rosie became his country's prime minister in February, 2000. Rosie died suddenly in October of that year, shortly after his 58th birthday.