The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora

The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora is a university chair in the Faculty of Education which aims to advance access, equity and inclusivity to education through community engagement and collaborative action.

First launched in 2008, the chair holder initiates, facilitates, directs and engages in research, educational programs, and community partnerships which are culturally responsive and relevant to the educational and social needs, interests and aspirations of Black and other racialized community members – both those inside and outside of the university for whom marginalization and racialization act as barriers to the achievement of their educational and career ambitions.

Fundraising for the Jean Augustine Chair in Education continues, with $1.2 million remaining to raise, and we welcome your support. If you would like to make a contribution, please donate now. Thank you for your consideration.

Current Chair

Carl E. James holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University. He is Professor in the Faculty of Education and holds cross-appointments in the Graduate Programs in Sociology, Social and Political Thought, and Social Work. He is also the university’s Affirmative Action, Equity and Inclusivity Officer, and was the Director of the York Centre on Education & Community (2008-2016) which he founded and Director of the Graduate Program in Sociology (2007-2008). He is one of six Advisors to the Ontario Minister of Education and Premier (2017- ).

James is widely recognized for his research contributions in the areas of intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, class and citizenship as they shape identification/identity; the ways in which accessible and equitable opportunities in education and employment account for the lived experiences marginalized community members; and the complementary and contradictory nature of sports in the schooling and educational attainments of racialized students. In advocating on education for change, James documents the struggles, contradictions and paradoxes in the experiences of racialized students at all levels of the education system. In doing so, he seeks to address and move us beyond the essentialist, generalized and homogenizing discourses that account for the representation and achievements of racialized people in educational institutions, workplaces, and society generally.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada – Academy of Social Sciences (2012), James’ outstanding work and leadership in equity and social justice is also demonstrated in the number of distinguished visiting lecturer positions he has held in universities in Canada, Australia and Sweden. His contributions to social equity and anti-racism education earned him an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University, Sweden, where he was a visiting Course Director from 1997-2013 in the Teacher Training Department. A former youth worker and community worker, he is known for his mentorship of students and colleagues; and is the recipient of many community and teaching awards, among them: Graduate Faculty Teaching Award (2017), York University; Black History Month Recognition, City of Markham (2014); Harry Jerome Professional Excellence Award, Black Business & Professional Association (2013); African Canadian Achievement Award (Education), Pride News Magazine (2009); William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations, City of Toronto (2008), New Pioneer Award, Skills for Change (2006).

His publications include the foundational text, Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Identity (2012), which is now in its Fourth Edition. Other publications include The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities authored with F. Henry, E. Dua, A. Kobayashi, P. Li, H. Ramos, M.S. Smith (2017); Life at the Intersection: Community, Class and Schooling (2012); Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence with Andrea Davis (2012); and Race in Play: The Socio-Cultural Worlds of Student Athletes (2005).


Through the wide range of activities described below the chair will foster understanding of the diverse cultural and educational needs of students; facilitate leadership on matters of access, equity, inclusivity and social justice; strengthen university-community partnerships and engagement; and build educational and social capacity among students and community members.

Research - Engage in research about and for Black and other marginalized/racialized communities that will inform policies, programs and advocacy. The research data and reports, which community agencies and members will be able to collaboratively engage and access, will contribute to the Chair becoming a Research Hub, serving as a central source of evidenced-based information (bulletins, lectures, presentations and discussions).

hands shakingPartnerships – Build strategic partnerships with other units at the university, as well as school boards, schools and community agencies and/or organizations to initiate, develop, and implement social and educational programs that are relevant and responsive to the needs and aspirations of university and other students and their parents.

graduate in capStudent Engagement – work with undergraduate and graduate students (through workshops, seminars, conferences and program initiatives) to provide assistance and support in their pursuit of post-secondary education and university engagement. Collaborate with schools to create opportunities for high school students to visit and become familiar with the university (including enabling students to learn about and develop suitable mentorship, forge and maintain beneficial networks, and develop leadership through research and community initiatives).

heads in circleCommunity Engagement - Work with both the university and wider communities on initiatives such as community-based and action research, partnership events (including workshops, conferences, lectures, students visits to the university, and other shared leadership projects), and education mobilization that work to the benefit of communities – particularly Black and other racialized communities.

Network for the Advancement of Black Communities (NABC)

Through socio-cultural and anti-Black racism lenses, the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities (NABC) aspires to build a strong and sustainable Black community sector in Canada by enabling the conditions for network convening, knowledge mobilization, service coordination, capacity building, research, and systems change.

Building on the work of numerous Black community-based organizations, NABC is an initiative of the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University. It functions as a catalyst for collective wisdom and action that addresses long-standing systemic disparities that relegate Black Communities to the periphery. NABC amplifies the Chair’s aims to advance access, equity and inclusivity to education through community engagement and collaborative action.

We care about the collective impact of NABC as a network. Critical to this endeavour is our ability to generate collaborative learning, policy analyses, and capacity building opportunities through the use of data, evaluation and advocacy in the Black community sector. Learning and policy advocacy are at the core of systems change. NABC provides innovative supports to organizations and groups to strengthen their adaptive capacity to be effective participants and leaders in driving positive outcomes for Black Communities locally, regionally and nationally.

Learn more

History of the Chair

The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora is an endowed Chair established by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada.

The Honorable Jean Augustine

The Honorable Jean AugustineIn 1993, Canadian politician Jean Augustine became the first black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada. She has served on numerous boards including the Board of Governors of York University, the Board of Trustees for The Hospital for Sick Children and as National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. An energetic advocate of social justice, Augustine was an elementary school principal before entering federal politics. She was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada, Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, and Assistant Deputy Speaker. She holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of Toronto. In 2007, Augustine was honoured by the University of the West Indies with a Caribbean Luminary Award, recognizing her significant contributions to the Caribbean diaspora, and was appointed Ontario’s first Fairness Commissioner to advocate for foreign- trained professionals, to ensure the credentials of internationally – trained professionals are treated fairly.

  • Prof. Naomi Norquay (Faculty of Education, York University)
  • Prof. Warren Crichlow (Faculty of Education, York University)
  • Prof. Andrea Davis (Chair, Department of Humanities, LAPS.
  • Prof. Michele Johnson (Director, Harriet Tubman Institute)
  • Prof. Leslie Sanders (Department of Humanities, York University)
  • Prof. Marcia Annisette (Schulich School of Business, York University)

The Jean Augustine Fonds

In 2007, Jean Augustine donated her personal records to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections at York University Libraries in Toronto, Canada.

Over 13.4 linear metres of administrative and personal records – in the form of textual documents, audio-visual material, artwork and objects – are available for research.

The materials in Augustine’s fonds chronicle her four decades of public service and her advocacy on diverse issues, such as women’s rights, urban education, Black youth, and the betterment of the Black community. Her private papers reveal much about her political sentiments and her sense of community.

The fonds include:

  • 13.4 m of textual records
  • 16.000 photographs
  • 10,000 negatives
  • 60 compact disks
  • 15 computer disks
  • 400 paintings and prints
  • 670 objects: buttons, flags, cups, etc.
  • 238 video cassettes
  • 41 audio cassettes

Click here to access a Finding Aid Inventory of  all items in the Jean Augustine Fonds
Click here to access digitized materials from the Jean Augustine Fonds
Click here to visit the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections


Television, radio and online

CBC online - A Road map for black parents navigating bias in the school system. Kate McGillivray. March 23, 2019

CBC News - High schools will soon have bigger classes. Metro Morning with Matt Galloway. March 18, 2019

CBC online - Black students in Toronto streamed into courses below their ability, report finds. Muriel Draaisma. April 24, 2017

CBC onlineForget the beer can, why weren't the Jays fans yelling racial slurs kicked out? Toronto Blue Jays have no specific policy on how to deal with racist comments, September, 2016.

Newspapers and magazines

The Weekly Gleaner - "Multiple tactics necessary to advance Black communities", by Neil Armstrong. February 28 - March 6, 2019

The Caribbean Camera Inc - "Activists in the Black community talk about personal risks", by Lincoln DePradine. February 16, 2019

The Conversation Canada - "Too busy for the PTA, but working-class parents care", by Carl James and Selom Chapman-Nyaho. November 11, 2018

Toronto Star - "Toronto segregated by race and income", by Sandra Contenta. September 30, 2018.

The Walrus - "Who Gets to Be Gifted", by Katrina Onstad. September 19, 2018

Toronto Star - "Racism in schools is not pass or fail", by Vicky Mochama. June 26, 2018

The Globe and Mail - "Programs aimed at helping black students facing disciplinary issues can wipe slates clean", by Dakshana Bascaramurty. June 24, 2018

The Globe and Mail - "Majority of black people in Toronto feel targeted and disrespected: study", by Dakshana Bascaramurty. July 19, 2017.

Toronto Star – “Queen’s University party costumes spark debate on campus”, by Alicja Siekierska. November 23, 2016.

Canadian Press – “Parents wrestle with how to explain Trump's win to their kids”, by Cassandra Szklarski (via CTV News online). November 9, 2016

Pride News - "Dr. Carl James is new Jean Augustine Chair and has major plans for it", by Neil Armstrong. May 25, 2016


Faculty of Education NEWS, York University

IN THE MEDIA: Change won’t happen overnight

With public awareness of anti-Black systemic racism seemingly at an all-time high, many people hope the investment industry is on its way to becoming more racially d ...

IN THE MEDIA: Search for school board leaders presents opportunity in face of racism discussions, say experts

As several Ontario school boards search for new directors of education, some experts say the situation presents an opportunity to kick start a much-needed reform of ...

Professor Carl James named new senior advisor on equity and representation at York U

The following is a message to the University community from York University's Vice-President of Equity, People and Culture Sheila Cote-Meek: La version française sui ...

Carlene Jackson

IN THE MEDIA: As Ontario school boards hunt for leaders, the TDSB gets bold on a key question: Who selects the director?

As school boards across Ontario teeter on the cusp of change, with at least 14 boards looking to select a new director of education, academics, parents and community ...


The Conversation: Ending ‘streaming’ is only the first step to dismantling systemic racism in Ontario schools

Professor and Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora, Carl James, recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Conversation Canada about the Ontario Gove ...