2021 Award Winner : Mrs. Honourable Jean Augustine
Jean Augustine immigrated to Canada in 1960. Before embarking on a career in politics, she worked as a nanny, teacher, principal, and later chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority while raising two girls. In 1993, she became the first Black Woman elected to Parliament, then Cabinet Minister and Deputy Speaker – successfully championing the Black History Month and Famous Five Motions such as “That this House take note of the important contribution of Black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, the diversity of the Black community in Canada and its importance to the history of this country.”
In March 2007, the Ontario government appointed her the province’s first Fairness Commissioner. The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) ensures that qualified foreign-trained professionals (e.g., in medicine, teaching) can get the required licences to practise in the province. Now retired, along with service via her Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment; she is working hard to raise much-needed funds to fully endow the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York University to help drive social justice policy for generations to come.