Jean Augustine

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Jean Augustine
Jean Augustine 2010 (crop).jpg
Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women
In office
May 26, 2002 – July 29, 2004
Prime MinisterJean Chretien
Paul Martin
Preceded byClaudette Bradshaw
Succeeded byRaymond Chan
Fairness Commissioner of Ontario
In office
March 1, 2007 – March 20, 2015
PremierDalton McGuinty
Kathleen Wynne
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMary Shenstone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada
In office
December 6, 1993 – February 22, 1996
Prime MinisterJean Chretien
Preceded byAndré Harvey
Succeeded byRey Pagtakhan
Member of Parliament
for Etobicoke—Lakeshore
In office
October 25, 1993 – January 23, 2006
Preceded byPatrick Boyer
Succeeded byMichael Ignatieff
Personal details
Born (1937-09-09) September 9, 1937 (age 84)
St. George's, Grenada
Political partyLiberal
ResidenceToronto, Ontario
Alma materUniversity of Toronto (BA, MEd)
ProfessionEducator, community organizer

Jean Madeline Augustine PC CM OOnt CBE (born September 9, 1937) is a Grenadian-Canadian educationalist, social advocate and politician. She was the first Black Canadian woman to serve as a federal Minister of the Crown and Member of Parliament.

From 1993 to 2006, Augustine was a Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada, representing the district of Etobicoke—Lakeshore in Toronto, Ontario. She served as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women in the Cabinet of Canada from 2002 to 2004 and was the Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 1994 to 1996. Before her election, she had been a school principal.

From 2007 to 2015, she served as the first Fairness Commissioner of Ontario. Following her retirement, she has served as the patron of several non-profit organizations across Canada.

Background & education[edit]

Augustine was born on September 9, 1937 St. George's in Grenada, but immigrated to Canada in 1960 under the West Indian Domestic Scheme.[1] 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.[1]

She has become 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 Harbourfront, and Chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. She was also named National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada in 1987.[2]

Federal politics[edit]

In the 1993 federal election, Augustine became the first Black Canadian woman elected to the Parliament of Canada; she served three terms as Chair of the National Liberal Women's Caucus. In February 2002, Augustine was elected Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.[3] While in office, Jean Augustine was solely responsible for championing legislation to recognize February as Black History Month in Canada with a unanimous vote of 305–0 in 1995.[4] This statement allowed Canadians to honour their Black history during the same time that their Americans had for generations.

Augustine also was the first Black Canadian woman appointed to the federal cabinet.[1] On May 26, 2002, Augustine was appointed Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women). In December 2003, she was re-appointed to the new Cabinet as Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Status of Women). In 2004, she was appointed to the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole, making her the first Black Canadian to occupy the Speaker's Chair in the Canadian House of Commons.

Augustine was the founding chair of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population & Development, chair of the National Sugar Caucus, chair of the Micro-credit Summit Council of Canadian Parliamentarians, chair of the Canada-Slovenia Parliamentary Group, and chair of the Canada–Africa Parliamentary Group.

On November 28, 2005, Augustine announced her intention to retire from the House, saying that she would not be a candidate in the 2006 Canadian election.[5] She endorsed Liberal Michael Ignatieff to succeed her.

Later life[edit]

In 2007, Augustine was nominated by the Government of Ontario to become the first Fairness Commissioner, a position created to advocate for Canadians with foreign professional credentials.[6] Augustine retired from the position of Fairness Commissioner in March 2015.[7]

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.[8]

In 2008, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education was established in the Faculty of Education at York University.[9]

Augustine serves as the patron, visitor or honorary chair of a number of organizations, including the NATO Association of Canada.

Honours and awards[edit]

Electoral record[edit]

2004 Canadian federal election: Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Jean Augustine 24,909 50.2 Decrease1.5
Conservative John Capobianco 15,159 30.6 Decrease10.0
New Democratic Margaret Anne McHugh 7,179 14.4 Increase7.9
Green John Huculiak 2,201 4.4
Marxist–Leninist Janice Murray 129 0.2 0.0
Total valid votes 49,577 100.0

Note: Conservative vote is compared to the total of the Canadian Alliance vote and Progressive Conservative vote in 2000 election.

2000 Canadian federal election: Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Jean Augustine 22,467 51.8 Increase5.6
Alliance David Court 9,160 21.1 Increase2.1
Progressive Conservative David Haslam 8,453 19.5 Decrease3.4
New Democratic Richard Joseph Banigan 2,835 6.5 Decrease2.4
Natural Law Don Jackson 244 0.6 Increase0.3
Marxist–Leninist Janice Murray 116 0.3 0.0
Communist Ed Bil 113 0.3
Total valid votes 43,388 100.0

Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election.

1997 Canadian federal election: Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Jean Augustine 21,180 46.2 +4.1
Progressive Conservative Charles Donley 10,509 22.9 -8.0
Reform Robert Beard 8,697 19.0 +0.2
New Democratic Karen Ridley 4,085 8.9 +3.9
Canadian Action Paul Hellyer 770 1.7
Green David Burman 315 0.7
Natural Law Geraldine Jackson 139 0.3 -0.3
Marxist–Leninist Barbara Seed 133 0.3 +0.1
Total valid votes 45,828 100.0


  1. ^ a b c d Susanna McLeod. "Jean Augustine". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Congress of Black Women of Canada". Pushing Buttons, Pushing Stories:The Jean Augustine Political Button Collection. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Profile - Augustine, Jean". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b January 12, Shannon Proudfoot; 2021 (12 January 2021). "This year's Maclean's Lifetime Achievement winner: Jean Augustine". Retrieved 26 February 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Cobb, Chris (11 December 2005). "Augustine's Swansong: Canada's first black female MP bowing out of politics: [Final Edition]". The Ottawa Citizen; Ottawa, Ont. Ottawa, Ont., Canada, Ottawa, Ont. pp. –7. ISSN 0839-3222. ProQuest 240895368.
  6. ^ Augustine to be Ont. advocate for foreign workers, CTV News from Canadian Press (CP). March 13, 2007.
  7. ^ Keung, Nicholas (22 March 2015). "Jean Augustine, Ontario's fairness commissioner, retires at 77". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  8. ^ "York University Libraries | Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits | The Jean Augustine Political Button Collection". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  9. ^ "The Jean Augustine Chair in Education | Faculty of Education". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  10. ^ January 12, Maclean's; 2021 (13 January 2021). "The winners of the Maclean's Parliamentarians of the Year Awards". Retrieved 26 February 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Paul Martin, Jean Augustine among seven receiving Trent University honorary degrees". 28 March 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Governor General Announces 57 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  13. ^ "No. 60897". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b45.
  14. ^ "Former politician Jean Augustine gets Brampton school named after her", CBC News, January 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Canada's Top 25 Immigrants 2011". Canadian Immigrant. Retrieved 6 June 2021.

External links[edit]

27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
  Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Status of Women)
26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien
Sub-Cabinet Post
Predecessor Title Successor
Hedy Fry Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women)