Sad News from the Advisory Council

diane-kaysIt is with overwhelming sadness that the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women reports that our Chairperson Diane Kays died yesterday, March 28, 2015, after a brief illness.

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: 


  1. Eileen Brown said

    My sincere sympathy to you all, Diane and I came on Council (ADSW) at the same time, she was a joy to work with and made us all feel like we were a special part of her life. She will certainly be missed by all who knew her.

  2. Kelly Robinson said

    Diane was a strong, funny, compassionate, caring woman. I can’t believe she’s gone.

  3. Bea Campbell said

    I’m so sorry to hear of Diane’s passing, she was such a kind, loving person. She will be missed by all her knew her

  4. Annette Campbell said

    Such a shock and a great loss to our community. Rest in peace, Diane.

  5. Gloria Dennis said

    This is heartbreaking news. Diane’s warmth, intelligence and humour will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace Diane. xo

  6. Anne T. Gillis said

    What a great loss to the women’s community and to all of us who loved and respected Diane.

  7. Diane and I grew up together in the west end of Charlottetown. Many of my feminist beliefs were formed & adjusted during discussions with Diane at Connaught Square or sitting on Sam’s doorstep…My condolences to her family and friends at the council, she will be missed.

  8. Michelle Harris-Genge said

    Diane’s passion and compassion will be heartily missed. Her passing is a huge loss to all who knew her. Condolences to her many friends and her loving family.

  9. Paula Finkle said

    Wisdom, integrity, dedication, kindness… these are words that I associate with Diane. I am so very saddened by this news. My condolences to her family and friends.

  10. Reblogged this on BID Inc. Do Good Work. and commented:
    A beautiful write-up on the important, behind-the-scenes work of Diane Kays.

    May her memory be eternal.

  11. susan said

    I am Diane’s niece, I am so very heartened to hear your comments. Thank you. My condolences to all of you who appreciated her like I did. . I am gathering your words describing Diane for her eulogy. This is a beautiful list so far.

  12. Ginnie kays said

    Just the mention of her name puts a smile on my face
    it was always so nice to be around her. Ginnie 1st cousin -in -law

  13. Teresa Clarke said

    The legacy Diane leaves is one of peace, justice, love and a better world for All. I am blessed to have known her and call her my friend, mentor and colleague.

  14. Gladys Kays Dirani said

    Diane was my first cousin and friend. That smiling face will be so missed by everyone who knew her. I love you, Diane, and may you rest in peace.
    Your cousin
    Gladys Kays Dirani

  15. Evelyn McKeigan said

    Diane was from our end of town.Never saw her for years.We met up again on board walk she never changed we instantly started our conversation had great chat we talked and walked it was so nice she was such nice person We met off and on on streets at funeral she was always same.We were in Cuba and judt found out today.So just want to say how sorry I was to read of her passing.My Condolences to her Sisters Hazel AndErsen she certainly was lovely lovely lady and will be greatly missed

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