Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine was appointed as the first Fairness Commissioner for Ontario in March 2007.
Ms. Augustine was born in Grenada and came to Canada in 1960. She attended the University of Toronto, where she earned bachelor of arts and master of education degrees. She became an elementary school principal with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in Toronto.
From 1988 until 1993, she was chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority.
Ms. Augustine was the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons. She was elected in the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore in 1993 and sat in Parliament until 2006. During this time, she served as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, minister of state for multiculturalism and the status of women and was a deputy Speaker.
She has shared her expertise and enthusiasm with others as a member of several community boards, including those of York University, the Hospital for Sick Children, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Harbourfront Corporation. She is a former national president of the Congress of Black Women of Canada.
Every year, she makes a better future for young women through the Jean Augustine Scholarship, a fund that helps single mothers attend George Brown College and Centennial College in Toronto.
Dr. Augustine donated her archival and parliamentary materials to York University’s Faculty of Education, thus creating the opportunity to establish an innovative academic position, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education in the New Urban Environment.
She has been honoured by many organizations for her leadership and community involvement. In 2009 the Women’s Executive Network named her as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards winners. The Girls’ Leadership Academy of the Toronto District School Board bears her name.
She was awarded the Luminary Award by the University of the West Indies in 2006, and has received honorary Doctor of laws degrees from the Universities of Toronto, Guelph, McGill and York.
In December 2009 she was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2012 received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine was inducted into the WXN Top 100 Women in Canada Hall of Fame.
Amongst hundreds of other earned awards are the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, the Kaye Livingstone Award, the Ontario Volunteer Award, the Rubena Willis Special Recognition Award, the UNIFOR Nelson Mandela Lifetime Achievement Award; the Toronto Lion’s Club Award; the University of the West Indies’ Luminary Award; and the Women’s Executive Network naming her one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.
Today her name is borne by The Jean Augustine Secondary School in the Peel District School Board in Brampton, Ontario; The Jean Augustine Girls’ Leadership Academy of the Toronto District School Board; the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment; the Jean Augustine Park on Toronto’s Lakeshore Boulevard; and the City of Vaughan has named the Jean Augustine Complex and the Jean Augustine District Park.
In 2009, Jean was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for her extensive contribution to Canadian society as a politician, educator and advocate for social justice. In 2012, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2014, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to education and politics. In 2020 she was appointed to the Order of Ontario.
Today, Jean remains involved with community activities including co-chairing the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women recognition and database, and the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment. She also funds three annual scholarships – at George Brown for single mothers; at Centennial College for young entrepreneurs; and at Humber College for students in the community studies program.
Jean Augustine is the proud mother of two daughters, and grandmother to two grandsons.
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