The Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C.
Speaker of the Senate
"His life was an example of service, determination, and humility. Always fighting for equal rights for all races in our society, and doing so without malice, he changed attitudes and contributed greatly to the inclusiveness and tolerance of Canada today.”
That is what the Ontario legislature said of the late Honourable Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, the first black Member of Parliament, in a 2013 act designating January 21 as an official day to honour his life and legacy.
In 2014, Parliament voted to observe Lincoln Alexander Day nationally.
In recognition of this day, parliamentarians gathered on February 8, 2017 to pay tribute to the long and distinguished career of Lincoln Alexander and to mark the beginning of Black History Month.
“We celebrate the legacy of an extraordinary Canadian. We honour the life of a man from humble beginnings — whose career was ultimately defined by leadership, courage and service,”
Senate Speaker George J. Furey
First elected to the House of Commons in 1968, Alexander held his seat for four consecutive elections, serving a total of 12 years in Parliament. In 1979, he was appointed Minister of Labour, making him Canada’s first black cabinet minister. Following his political career, Alexander was sworn in as Ontario’s 24th lieutenant-governor — and the first black person to be appointed to a vice-regal position in Canada.
Throughout his illustrious career, Alexander championed causes that made Canada a more inclusive and integrated society.
“He is remembered not only for his impressive achievements, but also for his relentless crusade to break down barriers for visible minorities in the country,” said Speaker Furey.
“A great altruist, Lincoln Alexander advanced the cause of education, race relations and youth issues in Canada.”
The event was one of many celebrations on Parliament Hill honouring of the legacy of black Canadians, past and present, whose contributions help shape our nation.