Erminie J. Cohen is well known to New Brunswickers for her tireless efforts to help those in need. The Saint John native began her public career in the 1970s when she helped found the non-partisan Saint John Women for Action, which helped bring attention to many of the challenges women and girls of the time were facing. Organizations she has participated in range from being a founding member of the Board of Hestia House, a trustee of Saint Joseph’s Hospital, member of the Human Development Council, and Chair of Opera New Brunswick. She is currently the Chair of the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation Board, and President of the Foundation (Saint John).
She was appointed on the recommendation of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to the Canadian Senate in 1993 representing the senatorial division of Saint John, New Brunswick. She was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party caucus until her retirement in 2001, where she continued her devotion to social causes in particular, poverty. This included acting as the co-chair of the Progressive Conservative National Caucus Task Force on Poverty, and spearheading attempts to make discrimination based on social condition prohibited under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Her many awards include a Doctorate of Laws from the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, the Humanitarian Service Award from the Salvation Army, the Red Cross Humanitarian Award, and was also honoured by the Rotary Club as a Paul Harris Fellow. She was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree from the University of New Brunswick.
In 1948, she married Edgar R. Cohen. Together with her husband, Edgar Cohen, she has operated a women’s fashion store and various real estate developments. She has three children: Shelley, Lee and Cathy.