Jean Augustine is a former Canadian politician and the first black woman in a federal cabinet as well as the first African Canadian to occupy the Speaker’s Chair in the Canadian House of Commons.Augustine arrived in Canada in 1960 and graduated from the University of Toronto with a master in education. She went on to become an elementary school principal with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in Toronto.She the then entered the world of politics, and from 1993 to 2005, Augustine was a Liberal member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore. She was secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 1994 to 1996, and was the Minister of State for multiculturalism, and the status of women until 2004.She also 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. 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.She has served on numerous organizations and Boards including the National BlackCoalition of Canada, 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 National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. She also Augustine supports the Jean Augustine Scholarship Fund, which assists single mothers to undertake post-secondary study at George Brown College.
On November 28, 2005, Augustine announced her intention to retire and that she would not be a candidate in the 2006 Canadian election. 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.