Before the Honourable Mayann Francis was the Director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, provincial ombudsman, and the 31st Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, she was a young girl taking the train from Cape Breton to the Big Apple. In her first children’s book, Mayann’s Train Ride, illustrated by Tamara Thiebeaux-Heikalo, Francis writes about the excitement of a nine-year-old girl exploring the world around her and learning valuable lessons along the way.
Atlantic Books Today: What do you consider your best quality?
I care about people. I do my best to always practice the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
A quality you desire in a partner:
I value a partner who is compassionate and caring. And that he knows how to cook.
What do you appreciate most about your friends?
My true friends are loyal, intelligent, kind, witty and supportive. We enjoy a good laugh.
Your worst quality:
I can be impatient.
Your favourite occupation:
I am in awe of writers who have the ability to take the reader on a roller coaster of emotions by the power and force of the written word.
Eating a bag of Lay’s potato chips every night and not worrying about clogged arteries or high cholesterol.
Your idea of misery:
Sitting next to someone on a fully booked airplane who believes they should share their terrible cold with you.
If you could be someone else for a day who would it be?
I would like to be Rosemary Barton, on CBC’s Power and Politics.
Where would you most like to live?
When I was a child I couldn’t wait for the first fall of snow. Now I can’t wait for the snow to melt. My joints would love a warm climate. Antigua, my mom’s birthplace, would be ideal.
I don’t think I have a favourite colour. I am drawn to purple, red, black, yellow, white and pale blue.
I love cats. My beloved cat Angel died in June 2015. We had many cats when I was a child. We also had a few dogs – but cats rule.
Your favourite poet(s):
Maya Angelou, George Elliott Clarke and William Shakespeare
Lawrence Hill and Cecil Foster
Your favourite fictional heroes:
Aminata, the central character in The Book of Negroes, was a strong, intelligent, courageous and determined woman. Those are qualities I admire.
Your real life heroes:
My friend and mentor Beverly Mascoll who at the age of 59 died from breast cancer. She was a successful entrepreneur who believed in social justice and giving back to community. Also Viola Desmond, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Francis, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Rev. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Your favourite food & drink:
On the rare occasions when I eat meat, I enjoy a delicious Oxtail dinner. I love salmon and my brother-in-law’s Barbadian hot and spicy fishcakes. Martinis made by Paddy are good. But my favourite drink is white cranberry juice, straight up.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is not knowing who I am.
A natural talent you’d like to possess:
I wish I had the natural ability to learn and speak many languages.
How you want to die:
As a baby boomer, I must admit I think about the final destination none of us can avoid. How I want to get there today might be different from how I want to arrive there tomorrow. One thing I do know, I want to be ready just like the Old Negro Spiritual says, “I want to be ready, my Lord, to walk in Jerusalem, just like John.”
Your present state of mind:
I attended the Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 directed by Paul Halley today (April 17, 2016). The noise and chatter in my mind was replaced by the solemn music of the Kings Chapel Choir. I am at peace. I can hear the still small voice. How beautiful.
Favourite or personal motto:
Never allow anyone or anything to break your spirit.