ABOUT BRIDGE FOR CHANGE
Bridge for Change is an initiative to raise the remaining $1.2 million to fully fund the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora endowment at York University. Since 2007, with York and community support, $1.8 million has been raised thus far towards the $3 million goal.
Achieving this goal would ensure the Chair will be here forever - permanently equipping educators and driving discourse on the Black-Canadian community, and connecting grassroots to education. The Chair will be a bridge among communities across Canada to actively address social justice issues and uncover research opportunities to drive policy change for many generations to come.
THE CHALLENGES WE FACE
Presently, the Canadian education system is not designed to support and set Black students up for long-term success. A lack of race-based data within school boards and communities is a key roadblock for advocates working hard to eliminate systemic barriers and inequalities at every level of education.
According to the Towards Race Equity in Education (2017) report, Black students face an achievement and opportunity gap in the Greater Toronto Area.
Educational streaming significantly minimizes
post-secondary opportunities for students, limits their ability to pursue different career paths and impacts their overall growth.
These inherent biases also impact Black students as young as those in Kindergarten. Many begin with confidence, excitement and a willingness to learn but are gradually “worn down” by attitudes and preconceptions from their teachers and the education system as a whole.
The report states that educational streaming, a policy that groups students based on ability is not effective.
The philosophy of the Chair is that empowerment begins through high-quality education.
The Jean Augustine Chair in Education is focused on addressing the systemic barriers and racial inequalities in the Canadian education system to improve educational outcomes for Black students.
To engage our youth on a level that bridges their reality and understanding of their identity is to inspire pride and a deeper connection to their roots and community.
Empowering Black Communities Through High-Quality Education
THE DESIRED IMPACT
Fully funding the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora will ensure that the work to address the structural inequalities impacting the Black community will continue in perpetuity. The Chair is a dedicated and reliable resource for gathering relevant data, initiating educational programs and opportunities, developing and diversifying curriculums and building strong partnerships with surrounding communities. Our goal is to change the educational landscape in Canada to be more diverse, inclusive and impartial.
The Jean Augustine Chair is in the Faculty of Education at York University. The present Chairholder is Dr. Carl E. James who is currently involved in leading and conducting research to support our vision.
Fully funded, the Chair will also support the development of valuable programs, educational tools and resources for educators, professionals and advocates to better navigate existing barriers.
Born and raised in Grenada, Jean Augustine is a forward-thinking educator and social advocate who has taken it upon herself to lead and influence how the Black-Canadian community is seen, heard and represented across the country.
After immigrating to Canada at the age of 23, she continued her studies in teaching and earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in education from the University of Toronto. Early in her career, Jean understood the importance of empowering students through quality education. She started as an elementary school teacher with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in Toronto, working her way up to be Principal and eventually Supervisory Officer. In these roles, Jean shaped the lives of students by championing her guiding principles of service, activism, innovation and leadership.
Her commitment to education and social justice led to her involvement on various boards such as York University, The Hospital for Sick Children, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Harbourfront Corporation. She also served as the National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. Jean was eventually called upon by political leaders to consult on various initiatives including the development of Canada’s official multiculturalism policy in 1971. In 1993, she became the first black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada for the constituency of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, serving four terms until 2006. Shortly after this, she was appointed as Ontario’s first Fairness Commissioner where she developed new regulatory standards to ensure fair registration for foreign-trained professionals looking to be licensed for employment.
Jean Augustine is an exemplary figure who has made incredible strides in her career to address social justice inequalities and diversity across Canada. Among many of her greatest accomplishments is having February officially recognized as Black History Month by the House of Commons.
"Black History is not just for Black people - Black History is Canadian History.
- Jean Augustine
Jean has always been committed to enriching lives and community through education. As Minister of Multiculturalism, she noticed the paucity of representation of the Black community in museums, archives and university chairs across Canada. In 2007, she parlayed her archival parliamentary material to York University archives towards establishing a fully endowed Chair in Education to serve as a dedicated resource for addressing the needs of Black students.
Bridge for Change is in the process of helping to gather the necessary funding to reach that goal.
Although she is a retired educator/politician, Jean continues to embrace her passion for education by proactively working to close the gaps she has seen in the Black-Canadian community.
"In order to be it, you have to see it."
- Hon. Jean Augustine
The Chair will publicly showcase how anti-black racism exists and impacts academic outcomes of Black students. The Chair will address the racial biases in the educational system and develop policy solutions.
The Chair will research intersectionalities regarding race, gender, class and citizenship to inform policies and advocacy. It will focus on how employment is accessed and granted in marginalized communities.
The Chair will set out to promote fair representation and equality by diversifying the teaching workforce and developing policies and teaching guidelines that mandate educators to learn about critical race theory and anti-colonialism.
The Chair will add to the necessary history of Black Canadians, and work to redevelop the curriculum to reflect the diversity and better represent Black-Canadian History.
The Chair will build strategic partnerships with universities and school boards to develop programs that seek to improve the academic journey of Black students and provide support to achieve their goals.
The Chair will collaborate with undergraduate and graduate students through community events, seminars, lectures and workshops, to support them during their educational career and reinforce the importance of continued education.
IN THE NEWS
October 25, 2020
Jean Augustine Received Key to the City
The community was invited to join the City of Vaughan on Sunday, Oct. 25 to celebrate the Hon. Jean Augustine’s lifelong commitment to public service.