Toronto Star

May 27, 20:18 EDT

Women's group elects first aboriginal president

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's largest women's organization acclaimed a new president Saturday, the first aboriginal to hold the job.

The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, meeting in Ottawa, announced that Terri Brown of Vancouver, would take over the post, succeeding Joan Grant-Cummings who had held the job for four years.

Brown became the sole candidate for the job after a second contender dropped out Saturday morning, citing personal reasons.

A longtime lobbyist for aboriginal women's rights and head of the Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Brown is the right person for the job, said Grant-Cummings.

Her roots are important because of the state of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and particularly of aboriginal women, Grant-Cummings said in an interview.

''Terri has a clear understanding of the politics of this country; in terms of feminist politics, in terms of the politics of race, how the government operates, the impact of government policy the aboriginal community,'' she said.

''That's the kind of strength that NAC needs right now.''

Brown is the third visible minority to lead the organization in its 29-year-old history.

Sunera Thobani, the first visible minority to lead the group and Grant-Cummings's predecessor, made immigrant and aboriginal women's issues a focus of NAC's activities.

Some worried that strategy divided Canadian women along their differences rather than uniting them in common causes.

Grant-Cummings, who is black, says she plans to continue working on women's issues when she moves to Jamaica by the end of the summer.

The group will hold its annual lobby day on Parliament Hill on Monday.

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