Jean Augustine empowers Cardinal Carter CHS students

Robert Ruscitti’s Grade 12 Politics class at Cardinal Carter Catholic High School recently hosted the Honourable Jean Augustine as a virtual guest speaker. 

Jean Augustine is a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister during Jean Chretien’s administration. Her present day work focuses on advocating for minorities, women and girls in Canadian social, political and economic life.

Students had the opportunity to ask Augustine questions during the town-hall style discussion, most of which focused on her early life and teaching career, her experience in politics, and her current work highlighting the achievements of Black Canadian women and ways she works to empower young women domestically and abroad. Augustine spoke to the numerous obstacles she encountered as a young Black woman, and how those challenges inspired her to do political and advocacy work.  Her humility and gratitude was evident in her interactions with the Grade 12 students as she recounted the difficult decision to immigrate to Canada in 1960, her tireless work as a Catholic school teacher and a principal in Toronto, and her fight for minority rights, including same-sex marriage in the House of Commons.

screenshot of the Google Meet showing Jean Augustine speaking

The York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) prides itself on developing students’ character through the teaching of Gospel values, and preparing students for their role in society. Part of this role is understanding and protecting their rights as Canadians, and the rights of their peers.

The opportunity the Grade 12 Cardinal Carter CHS students had to empathize and learn about her journey is critical in helping students learn to better analyze the deep-seeded challenges for women of colour in our current political system. YCDSB is committed to improving student success through designing and implementing inclusive curriculum; one that provides students the opportunity to interact with and learn from those, such as Augustine, who previously and presently advocate for inclusion of minorities and the rights of marginalized Canadian communities.

Speaking on the future of Canadian politics and our responsibilities as Canadians, Augustine said, “We are responsible for everything we do and say; we have a responsibility to each other here in Canada and in any part of the world.” These words are lasting not just in the current context of a worldwide pandemic, but for the whole of humanity as we progress forward from this crisis. Below are a few comments from some of the students about this guest speaker experience.

Student Testimonials