Posted by Peter Roaf on Feb 08, 2022
Equality means everybody gets a pair of shoes. Equity means they get shoes that fit. As Canadians celebrate Black History Month in February, the Member of Parliament, whose motion to establish the national celebration received unanimous approval in the House of Commons in 1995, The Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black woman to be elected as an MP also describes Diversity as everybody being invited to a dance. Inclusion, she says, means everybody gets an opportunity to dance. Dr. Augustine spoke to Ladner Rotary on February 8, 2022.
In 1960, Jean Augustine came to Toronto from Grenada. She earned a Master of Education degree and started her career as an educator and school principal. From 1988 to 1993, she was Chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. Throughout her public life she has been an energetic advocate for social justice and has supported many social causes.

She left the Housing Authority to take her seat in the House of Commons in 1993. She served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Chair of the National Liberal Women's Caucus, Secretary of State, and Minister for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Deputy Speaker. In March 2007 to 2015, she served as the first Fairness Commissioner for the province of Ontario.

She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was made a member of the Order of Canada for her distinguished career. 

Over time Dr. Augustine has received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Toronto, McGill, York, Guelph, Windsor, Trent, and Ryerson. She also served as the National President for the Congress of Black Women of Canada. 
She talks about "Alliedship" in that we need friends or "allies" to achieve our goals. The future, she says, belongs to all our children. There is a need to bring marginalized people into the centre of our communities and our society. We all need to work as allies to make this happen.

Amongst the hundreds of other earned awards are the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, the Kaye Livingstone Award, the Ontario Volunteer Award, The Special Recognition Award, UNIFOR Nelson Mandela Lifetime Achievement Award; the Toronto Lions Club Award, the University of the West Indies Award, and the Women’s Executive Network naming her one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.

The Jean Augustine School is in the Peel District School Board of Brampton, Ontario. The Jean Augustine Girls’ Academy is in the Toronto District School Board. The Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment and the Jean Augustine Park are also in Toronto. The Jean Augustine Complex and the Jean Augustine District Park are in the City of Vaughan.

Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities. The 2022 theme for Black History Month is: “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day,” which focuses on recognizing the daily contributions that Black Canadians make to Canada. 
A virtual celebration of Black History Month is scheduled on Facebook Live at 4 pm PST on February 17, 2022. The even will highlight this year’s theme will feature performances, tributes, interviews and much more!
In the meantime you can view the brief 'Hymn to Freedom' video which celebrates some of our Black Canadian History.