The long-awaited autobiography of former Canadian Senator, lawyer, and outspoken spokesperson for diversity and minority advancement, detailing his life as a Black man working within the system to bring change to Nova Scotia and beyond.
Growing up in the only Black family in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Donald Oliver felt duty-bound to honour his great-grandparents, who had fled slavery in the US. His childhood, surrounded by music, family, and respected, hard-working role models, was idyllic. His family's fundamental family creed was "work hard, be humble, love the Lord, and do all you can to help other people."
Donald Oliver would go on to embody those values in a big way. In his long-anticipated memoir, Oliver, now retired, looks back at a life lived in service to others. In his own careful and thoughtful words, he examines his days as a lawyer, an outspoken social activist, and a teacher, and of course he reflects on his twenty-three years of service as a member of the Senate of Canada.
A diplomat to his core, Donald Oliver has dedicated his life to rooting out the systemic racism that has stalled the growth of Canada's Black citizens – his work a testament to the truth that Black Lives Matter. Now, through dozens of black and white and colour images, and thorough intimate, personal reflections, A Matter of Equality: The Exemplary Life of Senator Don Oliver examines the legacy of the first man, and the second Canadian, to bring the Black experience directly to the upper house.
About the author
The Honorable Donald H. Oliver, CM, ONS, QC, retired as a member of the Senate of Canada in 2013 after twenty-three years of service. He now resides at his beloved farm in Pleasant River, Queens County, Nova Scotia. Oliver rose to serve with distinction as Deputy Speaker in the Senate of Canada, as Chairman of six standing committees of Parliament; as Chairman or Deputy Chairman of seven inter-parliamentary associations; and as a ubiquitous spokesperson for diversity, pluralism, fairness and equality, for which he was awarded five Honorary Doctorate degrees from Canadian Universities.
Don Oliver takes us on a delightful journey from his childhood as the son of a proud custodian at Acadia University to becoming the first Black man appointed to the Senate of Canada to rubbing shoulders with President Obama in the Oval Office. He has been a singular towering force in making the business case for diversity in the public and private sectors, and he's backed it up with empirical data. In my association with Don over decades, as banker to parliamentarian and as a good friend, I have experienced his determination, his intellect, his wit, and his humanity. This must-read book captures all of these attributes with grace and insight.
— Bill Downe, former president and chief executive officer, BMO Financial Group
This brilliantly written book chronicles Don Oliver's lifelong influences and distinguished contributions toward social justice and equality.....This is a book of seasoned scholarship that is accessible, spiritually sensitive, and constructive. In presenting both his maternal and paternal family histories, [it] shows Don himself and his family members as nation-builders contributing to Canada's evolving democracy, and it blends their contributions to provincial, national, and international historic events with contemporary issues...
Don Oliver is a statesman of integrity and an authentic leader who is ethical and just, and this book is a reflection of his lifetime dedication and unselfish service to building a more inclusive Canadian society.
— Sharon D. Brown Ross, community social justice advocate; former senior manager, Federal Public Service
Suppose you want to enhance your understanding of a visionary and trailblazer who has relentlessly broken down barriers and contributed to making Canada a more equitable place. In that case, A Matter of Equality should be on your required reading list. Don Oliver recounts his journey through life and public service in a profoundly moving and inspiring way with clarity and purpose. It is not only the story of a remarkable person, it is also the history of Nova Scotia and Canada.
— Denise Allyson Cole, Public Servant / Deputy Minister