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People, Locations, Episodes

Thu, 09.09.1937

Jean Augustine, Administrator born

Jean Augustine

*On this date in 1937, Jean Augustine was born.  She is a Black Canadian educational administrator, advocate for social justice, and politician.

Jean Augustine was born in 1937 in Grenada but immigrated to Canada in 1960 under the West Indian Domestic Scheme.  She studied at the University of Toronto where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education. After university, she worked as an elementary school principal with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in Toronto. She was also actively involved in Toronto's Caribbean community, sitting on the first committee to organize the Caribana Festival in 1967.   

She remains engaged in numerous organizations for education and social justice, serving with the National Black Coalition of Canada, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR), the Board of Governors of York University, the Board of Trustees for The Hospital for Sick Children, the Board of Directors of the Donwood Institute, the Board of Harbour Front, and Chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. She was also named National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada in 1987.From 1993 to 2006, Augustine was a Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada, representing the riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore in Ontario. She served as a member of Cabinet (2002 to 2004). Before her election, she had been a school principal.

Augustine served as the Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 1994 to 1996; she was Minister of State for multiculturalism (and the status of women) from 2002 to 2004.  In 2007, Augustine became the first Fairness Commissioner, a position created to advocate for Canadians with foreign professional credentials.  In 2007, Augustine donated her personal records to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections at York University.

"Pushing buttons, pushing stories" is a digital exhibit of Augustine's personal political buttons.  In 2008, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education was established in the Faculty of Education at York University.  Alongside caucus colleague Hedy Fry, she was one of the first two Black Canadian women elected to the House of Commons.  Augustine retired from the position of Fairness Commissioner in March 2015.  

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