After working in the field of education, The Honourable Jean Augustine became the first African Canadian woman to be elected to the Parliament of Canada. She would win four consecutive elections until leaving politics in 2006. While in office she served as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women and was the Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
Among her many accomplishments as an MP, Jean played a pivotal role in championing legislation to recognize February as Black History Month in Canada, leading a unanimous vote of 305–0 in 1995.
She 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. In 2004, she was appointed to the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole, making her the first Black Canadian to occupy the Speaker’s Chair in the Canadian House of Commons.
Her many accolades include receiving the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, being appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, Commander of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of Ontario.