A woman who has advocated for social equity as a community member and as a city leader was honoured for her service to Nanaimo.
Diane Brennan, former city councillor, received Freedom of the City at a ceremony Monday, Oct. 4, in council chambers at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Freedom of the City is the highest honour the City of Nanaimo can bestow, and requires a unanimous vote of council.
Brennan was councillor from 2002-2008 and from 2011-2018. Before that she was a director with the Nanaimo Association of Intervention and Development which focused on legal assistance and crisis counselling, and she was also a school trustee.
Brennan said she felt some uncertainty joining city council her first term.
“I wasn’t sure how I would fit in. I was an anti-poverty activist and a woman. Both traits were scarce commodities at city hall in 2002,” she said.
But she developed working relationships and friendships with council members across the political spectrum and was able to advance initiatives such as legalizing secondary suites.
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) June 26, 2021
Brennan thanked past and current councillors, other community builders and friends and family, and said she couldn’t have been more surprised or grateful when she learned she would be receiving Freedom of the City. She also said she’s grateful about where she’s been able to live her life.
“Nanaimo is a community where people take care of each other. We care about one another,” she said.
Every member of council at Monday’s ceremony said a few words about Brennan’s contributions to the city. Coun. Zeni Maartman acknowledged Brennan’s courage and integrity and her impact as a woman in leadership.
“You are a role model. You have been a leader for many of us in this community and we now have three women on our council. I want to say thank you for blazing that trail,” Maartman said.
Mayor Leonard Krog read a lengthy outline of Brennan’s community service and joked that there must have been two Diane Brennans to accomplish so much.
“Age can sometimes rob you of your passion and your compassion and your drive and your initiative, and in some people it is only enhanced and matures and grows and comes to fulsome light,” he said. “And it certainly has in Diane Brennan.”