Westview Centennial students were given a special treat this past Friday when Grenadian-born The Hon. Jean Augustine shared her victories, triumphs and struggles during her ascend to greatness.
She was the first Black woman in Canadian history to be elected to the House of Commons. She represented the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding from 1993 – 2006. She was also the minister of state for multiculturalism and the status of women. This former principal sat on several standing committees and was a Deputy Speaker.
Often drawing on her own experiences after emigrating to Canada back in 1962, she has become a tireless champion for the rights and equitable treatment of New Canadians. Her focus is primarily education and other challenges faced by newcomers to Ontario. Additionally, she is a strong advocate for the under privileged and marginalized in our province.
In 2007, she served as chair of the Ontario Bicentenary Commemorative Committee on the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. March of that same year, she was appointed as the first Fairness Commissioner for Ontario. The mandate is to assist New Canadians to have their professional credentials verified and accepted in Ontario. Thus far she has done a phenomenal job as is evident by her recent re-appointment by Ontario’s Premier Dr. Dalton McGuinty.
The Fairness Commissioner has had an outstanding career. She has been honored by numerous organizations nationally and internationally for her leadership, community involvement and her overall commitment to the betterment of all Canadians. Among her many citations received are: honorary Doctor of Law degrees by the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and McGill University. In December 2009, she was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada.
She is an excellent role model who eagerly shares her passion and enthusiasm with others. She is very excited about sharing her success with the students at Westview School on June 8th. Westview’s principal Mr. Patrick Knight had this to say: “We are absolutely delighted to have the Hon. Jean Augustine address our students. Her visit means a lot and will impact our students in a very positive way. It is an inspiration to many just being in the same room with her, so to have such a great individual address our students is absolutely fantastic.” Author, speaker, personal development and self esteem expert Paulet Biedermann who organized the visit, had this to say: “during my success oriented workshops with the senior girls at Westview, some of the students identified lack of exposure to successful and accomplished role models to emulate.”
Other career hindering barriers such as racism and financial limitations were identified as issues that may interfere with the attainment of their optimum potential. The Hon. Commissioner is the perfect choice to address these girls as she is multifaceted and multitalented, reaching a cross section of career interests. She will be able to relate on several levels: academic, social, political and cultural. Most importantly, she leads by example.