Ontario teachers provide a big boost toward the Jean Augustine Chair

Ontario’s teachers have donated $100,000 toward the Jean Augustine Chair in the New Urban Environment.

The gift came from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) during its annual meeting on Aug. 13. "Ontario’s elementary teachers are honoured to be part of such an important initiative which will benefit student learning not only in Ontario but throughout Canada," said ETFO President David Clegg.

Named after Jean Augustine (left), the first black woman elected to the Canadian Parliament, the chair will study social justice and equity issues in the urban environment that shape student academic success. The chair will also enrich research and academic activities involving urban communities in areas such as educational policy and practice.

Clegg said the ETFO is pleased the chair will be involved in teacher education, creating an exponential impact on the future of education. "Social justice and equity issues such as homelessness, racism, poverty and violence increasingly impact the lives and learning of our students, particularly in urban centres,” said Clegg. “With a more comprehensive understanding of these educational challenges, teachers will be better prepared to help all their students reach their fullest potential."

Jean Augustine and Alice Pitt (right), dean of York’s Faculty of Education, accepted the donation on behalf of York University. “We thank the ETFO immensely for its generosity and its leadership in education,” said Pitt. “This gift is a clear indication of the federation’s commitment to social justice and recognition of the important influence that this chair will have on educational policy and practice."

Using data from Statistics Canada, Augustine emphasized the vital role of immigration in this country and how important it is to educate future generations to embrace it. “If Canada were a business and not a nation, it would state proudly in its annual report to shareholders that multiculturalism provides a strategic and competitive advantage over other nations in international affairs and in the global economy,” she said. “The chair will support Canada’s next generation of teachers, educational leaders and educators as we all work to improve schooling in metropolitan cities.”

Augustine, a former educator and principal in the Jane and Finch area, has worked previously with York on community outreach initiatives, including serving on the Board of Governors when York founded the Westview Partnership, an initiative that improves access to the University for students living in the surrounding neighbourhood. Augustine is also Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner, with a mandate to ensure certain regulated professions have registration practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 73,000 elementary public school teachers and education workers across Ontario and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

The ETFO’s gift also supports York to the Power of 50, York’s 50th anniversary fundraising campaign with a $200 million goal. The ETFO gift supports one of the campaign’s four fundraising priorities, Empower50, representing new chairs and professorships. For more information, contact the York University Foundation at 416-650-8210.