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Yvette Swan (1945-2021): a powerful voice for social justice

Yvette Swan, a former minister under the UBP government and champion for women (File photograph)

A pastor, women’s advocate and former United Bermuda Party Cabinet minister and senator has died at 75.

Yvette Swan, who worked as an optometrist at the Bermuda Optical Company, was a champion for the disadvantaged, according to Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Simons said he knew Dr Swan on a professional and personal level as “a woman of great passion and dedication, who served tirelessly at various levels of society”.

While her sons were her “pride and joy”, Mr Simons said Dr Swan was a powerful voice for social justice, especially the empowerment and equity of women.

“As a former UBP senator and Cabinet minister, she served the parish of Warwick with fervour and dedication, and as a professional optometrist, her patients were recipients of her professionalism and skill as well.

“In her later years, she served her congregation at a spiritual level by, fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a pastor, after moving to Canada. A woman of her calibre and commitment will certainly be missed.”

Dr Swan was raised in Jamaica, where she attended boarding school.

It was followed by Paddington Technical College and the University of Aston, in Britain.

She moved to Bermuda after marrying Malcolm Swan in 1970. The couple had three sons: Malcolm Brian, Dane, and Dean.

Dr Swan was a past president of the Business and Professional Women’s Association, a lay preacher at Wesley Methodist Church and a teacher, singer and board member at the Bermuda School of Music.

A longstanding campaigner for the UBP in Warwick West, Dr Swan was appointed to the Senate in 1993, and made Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs in 1995.

Other responsibilities included serving as Minister for Women's Issues.

Dr Swan addressed the United Nation Commission on the Status of Women, and campaigned for women's issues in countries around the world.

She ran as MP for Warwick West in 1998, with the late Quinton Edness, a former UBP minister.

The two lost to Ewart Brown and El James, of the Progressive Labour Party, in the PLP’s landslide win of November 1998.

Dr Swan made an unsuccessful bid in the 2003 General Election for the newly drawn district of Warwick North Central.

She later became an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada.

⋅ Yvette Victoria Angela Swan, a former United Bermuda Party senator, was born on August 20, 1945. She died on April 18, 2021. Dr Swan was 75.

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Published April 21, 2021 at 8:10 am (Updated April 21, 2021 at 8:10 am)

Yvette Swan (1945-2021): a powerful voice for social justice

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