News release

Portrait of First Female African Nova Scotia MLA

NOTE: Photos from the portrait unveiling are available at:

A portrait of Yvonne Atwell, the first female African Nova Scotian to sit in the House of Assembly, was unveiled today, February 22, at Province House in Halifax.

The installation commemorates the historical significance of her election as the member for Preston in 1998.

“Yvonne Atwell’s election in 1998 marked an important milestone for the representation of women of colour in Nova Scotia’s democratic institutions,” said Keith Bain, Speaker of the House of Assembly. “The installation of her portrait commemorates and honours Ms. Atwell’s historic achievement. This commemoration is particularly significant during African Heritage Month – a time to educate ourselves and reflect upon and celebrate the significant contributions of African Nova Scotians to the province.”

Ms. Atwell’s portrait joins those of many prominent figures in the history of the province on display throughout Province House, including:

  • the Premiers of Nova Scotia
  • Donald Marshall Sr. – Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq Nation, 1964-1991
  • William Hall – the first Nova Scotian and the first person of African descent to be awarded the Victoria Cross
  • Wayne Adams – the first African Nova Scotian to be elected to the House of Assembly and the first African Nova Scotian to be appointed to the Executive Council of Nova Scotia.


Yvonne Atwell’s portrait is a wonderful and deserving addition to Province House. It is a representation of true Nova Scotian excellence, and it will serve as a reminder that our democracy – and this legislature – belongs to everyone. This is something that we, Nova Scotians, must remember. Pat Dunn, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs