Jean Augustine is a trailblazing politician, social activist, and educator. She was the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons, the first African-Canadian woman to be appointed to the federal Cabinet, and the first Fairness Commissioner of the Government of Ontario.
Born in 1937 in Happy Hill, Grenada, Augustine overcame personal and economic adversity from an early age to excel academically and began her career as a teacher. After arriving in Canada in 1960, she advanced her education and career prospects, participated in grassroots organizations to strengthen minority and women’s rights, and served her community and the City of Toronto with great passion and charisma. Augustine carried her roots and convictions in community service, education, and advocacy as she entered politics in 1993 as a Member of Parliament.
In 1995, her proposed motion before Parliament to recognize February as Black History Month passed unanimously, thereby establishing a lasting tradition of celebrating the important contributions of Black Canadians to Canada’s history, culture, development, and heritage. Augustine continued on to serve in such key positions as Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, member of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada, and member of the Citizenship and Immigration Committee.
Augustine has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work, including being inducted as Member of the Order of Canada in 2007, appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, as well as receiving honorary degrees from the University of Toronto, University of Guelph, McGill University, and York University.
Source: Government of Canada.
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