Contributing through Service

The Honourable Jean Augustine, P.C., C.M., C.B.E

The Honourable Jean Augustine served four consecutive terms from 1993-2006 in the Parliament of Canada as the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, a diverse multicultural metropolitan community. The first Black woman elected to the House of Commons, Jean Augustine served in increasingly responsible roles including that of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism)(Status of Women), Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Status of Women) of Canada; and Special Advisor on Grenada to the Prime Minister.

Through her tenure, Ms. Augustine was an active parliamentarian participating on a number of Standing Committees, Taskforces, and Parliamentary Caucuses; ultimately equipping her service in her last term as Deputy Speaker and Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.


  • Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
  • Vice Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resource Development from which the Augustine Amendment to Employment Insurance legislation still protects disadvantaged Canadian families.
  • Vice Chair of the Ministerial Committee on Social Security Reform.
  • Vice Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship & Immigration.
  • Member of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Human Rights & International Development.
  • Chair of the National Liberal Women's Caucus for three consecutive terms.
  • Chair of the all-party Microcredit Summit Council of Canadian Parliamentarians to ensure financially disadvantaged persons gain access to credit and to remove the barriers to economic independence.
  • Founding Chair of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development.
  • Chair of the National Sugar Caucus.
  • Founding Chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Group.
  • Chair of the Canada-Slovenia Parliamentary Group.
  • Chair of the Canada-Caribbean Parliamentarian Friendship Group
  • Member of 38 different Parliamentary Groups representing countries around the world.


  • Jean Augustine mobilized all-party support in the House of Commons in order to pass a unanimous motion designating February as Black History Month in Canada.
  • Jean Augustine mobilized all-party support to have a statue erected on Parliament Hill commemorating the Famous Five and the Persons Case for women’s equality.
  • Jean Augustine was the first Canadian woman to serve as Chair of a high-level Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Conference.
  • Jean Augustine served as an Official Election Observer in South Africa’s first one-person, one-vote election which voted Nelson Mandela as President.
  • Jean Augustine served multiple times as alternate Governor of the Caribbean Development Bank.


Prior to her work in the Parliament of Canada, Jean Augustine:

  • guest lectured at the University of Toronto, York University, Dalhousie University, Mt. St. Vincent, St. Mary, University of Cape Breton Island, and other academic institutions on diversity, race relations and multiculturalism.
  • served six years as Chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority.
  • served as member of the Ontario Judicial Council which made recommendations on the appointment of judges, and heard complaints by citizens against judges’ behaviour and conduct on the bench.
  • served on the Toronto Crime Inquiry composed of community individuals, police, and politicians which held hearing across Toronto on the issue of crime and safety concerns in the various communities.
  • Jean Augustine conducted workshops for school boards on Equity and Diversity.

Ms. Augustine’s body of work involves on-the-ground efforts in countries on every continent - - sustaining beneficial relations in and beyond Canada’s capital with Diplomatic Core leaders from Commonwealth, Caribbean, Latin American and African nations.

 In 2007, Dr. Augustine was named Chair of the Ontario Bicentenary Commemorative Committee on the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act; and served as the first-ever Ontario Fairness Commissioner for Foreign Credential Recognition where she collaborated with the province’s regulatory bodies to ensure that their admission procedures were clear, open and fair to all.

 Jean Augustine holds a B.A., a M.Ed. and several Honorary Doctorate degrees from top Canadian Universities including the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of Waterloo and York University where the Jean Augustine Chair in York’s Faculty of Education is integrating core tenets of teaching and learning with themes relevant to the new urban environment including issues of family, neighbourhood and individual development.

In 2009, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada “for her distinguished career as an educator, politician and advocate for social justice in Canada".

In 2014, she was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her contributions to education and politics.

Ms. Augustine also supports various scholarship funds in her name including the Jean Augustine Scholarship Fund at George Brown College which assists single mothers who pursue postsecondary studies. She is the mother of two daughters.