Appointed to the Advisory Council in March 2011, Diane took up the role of Chairperson in August of that year. During her term as Chairperson, she devoted incredible time and energy to the Council’s work, taking an active part in the life of the office and of the Council, seeing the Council through a restructuring in 2012, and maintaining a strong and respectful relationship with Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Valerie Docherty. Diane represented the Advisory Council on the province’s Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council and the Victim Services Advisory Committee, offering her irreplaceable knowledge and experience to these groups.
Diane Kays grew up in Charlottetown, a first-generation Canadian of parents born in Lebanon. She was proud of her Lebanese heritage. She graduated from St. Dunstan’s University and then received a Master’s of Social Work at Dalhousie’s Maritime School of Social Work. She spent more than 30 years in social work (in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and eight years as a small business owner.
Her social work career focused on individual and family therapy, community development, and program development. Diane was also a Lecturer and Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University School of Social Work and worked in private practice (therapy and consulting).
Diane retired from social work in 2009 and moved home to Charlottetown, first to help care for her mother, Esma, in the last years of her life, and then to live with her beloved sister Doreen.
Throughout her career, Diane focused on issues of violence against women and children, adult survivors of childhood abuse, poverty and women, women in conflict with the law, mental health and women, and multi-service systems (analysis, development, and delivery).
Islanders will remember the special grace she brought to emceeing the annual Montreal Massacre Memorial Service, especially her moving speech “Her Name Was Eleanor…” at that service in 2011. Her strong voice for vulnerable women and families will be missed during the upcoming spring election.
“Our hearts are broken,” says Advisory Council Executive Director Jane Ledwell. “We have lost a beacon of feminist experience and a strong voice for all Island families, but most of all we have lost a friend and counsellor.” Council staff Ledwell, Michelle Jay, and Becky Tramley met with Diane weekly, sharing their accomplishments and goals with seriousness, but also with fun and laughter. “There was so much more that Diane wanted to accomplish to support women and their families in Prince Edward Island, and she had so much more to contribute,” says Ledwell. “We are devastated to lose her so suddenly and so soon. We will miss her with all our hearts.”
The Advisory Council on the Status of Women sends love and sympathy to Diane’s family, especially her sisters Doreen and Hazel, her niece Susan and her partner David Veniot, and her great-nephew Griffyn Sam, and to all her extended family, related by blood or by choice.
Note: Funeral arrangements are now made: http://www.macleanfh.com/Obituaries/96887/