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The first black female Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia on how and why she dressed the part

Mayann Francis on the pressures of dressing for the public eye as a woman of colour.
Some of the clothing worn by Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis during her time in service is on display at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in an exhibit called The Dress: Mayann Francis and the Call to Serve." (Shirley Robb)

Public figures are inextricably tied to the clothes they wear. As Gary Markle, professor of fashion at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design notes, it's a "spectacle for public consumption — the garment becomes tied to them in a way that is a signifier of their station." 

This was something Nova Scotia's first Black Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis was very aware of during her time in service, from 2006 to 2012. 

The Dress: Mayann Francis and the Call to Serve is an exhibit at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax that features clothing worn by the first black female Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. (Daniel Abriel, courtesy of Communications and Marketing at Dalhousie University)

"The clothing I put together was a transformation of sorts," she says. "When I was asked to be the Queen's representative, for me, this was not only about making sure the dress is appropriate and the dress that would do honour for the role, but also honour to black women and the black community." 

Some of Francis's clothes are now on display now in an exhibit called The Dress: Mayann Francis and the Call to Serve at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax. The exhibit runs until this Sunday, Nov. 27. For more information, check out their website

Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Mayann Francis signing the pardon of Viola Desmond. (Courtesy of Communications and Marketing at Dalhousie University)

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