Mayann Elizabeth Francis was born in Sydney (Whitney Pier), Nova Scotia, one of seven children. Her parents were newcomers to Canada; her father, George, was originally from Cuba and her mother, Thelma, was from Antigua. Francis was brought up in the church, in part due to her father's role as the archpriest of the African Orthodox Church.
While her neighbourhood was diverse, issues of inequality influenced Francis' higher education and working life to compel her to try to affect change. Following her graduation from St. Mary's University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (1972), she worked for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She then lived in the United States for 16 years, working and earning a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from New York University in 1984. She focused on personnel and labour relations issues•issues that affect the quality of people's lives on a daily basis•and issues that seek rectification through public bodies.
Upon returning to Canada, she became an assistant deputy minister with the Ontario Women's Directorate before accepting the position of director. She went on to serve as the chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
Francis' efforts to bring about equality and inclusiveness have been recognized by a Harry Jerome Award from the Black Business and Professional Association, the Multicultural Education Council of Nova Scotia Award, and the Golden Jubilee Medal.
Mayann E. Francis was the first woman ombudsman of Nova Scotia and when she became lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia in September 2006, she became the first Black Nova Scotian and the second Black Canadian (after Lincoln Alexander of Hamilton, Ontario) to hold this position.
The Honourable Mayann Francis
Scroll down the page for a profile of The Honourable Mayann Francis. From the website for the Norval Johnson Heritage Library.
The Honourable Mayann E. Francis, O.N.S., DHumL
The first African Nova Scotian, and only the second woman to hold the position in the province's more than 400-year history, Ms. Francis became lieutenant-governor in September of 2006.
Mayann Elizabeth Francis
A biography of the Honourable Mayann E. Francis, public servant, human rights specialist, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia. From The Canadian Encyclopedia.
CBC: The Honourable Mayann E. Francis
Listen to a CBC interview with The Honourable Mayann E. Francis, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia.