Jean Augustine among 6 Phenomenal women to be honored in Toronto

Singing Her Praises…Celebrating Women (Toronto)

Jean Augustine, Zanana Akande, Akua Benjamin, Paulette Senior, Debbie Douglas, and Fleurette Osborne will be honored at a gala event in Toronto, Canada on November 18, 2015; their contributions to millions across Canada have been tremendous.

These women have positively impacted the social, economic and cultural growth of Canadians. Their continuous contributions have benefited people from all walks of Canadian life.

The celebratory event—Singing Her Praises…Celebrating Women (Toronto)—will be held on November 18, 2015 at 6:30 p.m., at the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto.

The grand evening of evening of music, dance, spoken word, and other activities is designed to pay tribute to women’s achievements and to inspire women to live purposeful lives.

Singing Her Praises was founded in 2011, by Evelyn Myrie of EMpower Strategy Group; a business that supports all aspects of women’s leadership and delivers empowering programs to enhance the socio-economic and educational development of women.

A part of the proceeds from Singing Her Praises…Celebrating Women (Toronto) will benefit the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network—a team of researchers and clinicians working together to improve the outcomes and quality of life for children living with sickle cell. Visit for more information on their important work.

Tickets are $65 per person or $625 for a group of 10 and are available by calling 905-527-5651 or 905-531-2107 or from Eventbrite.

Here are the remarkable women of the next Singing Her Praises…Celebrating Women (Toronto)

Jean Augustine

Jean Augustine – photo

Jean Augustine is the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons the first to serve in the federal Cabinet. She served as a member of Cabinet(1994 to 2004), and was theParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chretien from 1994 to 1996; she was Minister of State for multiculturalism (and the status of women) from 2002 to 2004. Before entering politics, Jean Augustine was a school principal with the Toronto District School Board.

Zanana Akande

Zanana Akande-photo

Zanana L. Akande is a former Cabinet Minister who served from 1990 to 1994 under the leadership of the New Democratic Party. She was the first black woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the first black woman to serve as a cabinet minister in Canada.

Akua Benjamin

Akua Benjamin – photo

Akua Benjamin has been in social work her for most of her life in varying formal and informal capacities. She began her formal social work career after graduating from the University of Toronto in the early 1980’s.

Benjamin has been a social justice advocate for more than 3 decades. She has helped establish policies, programs and services to help those who are less privileged. Akua has worked with varying community members and groups on issues of immigration, employment, education, criminal justice, feminism, anti-black racism, health, policing and other critical issues impacting many individuals and groups. She has played significant roles in the Congress of Black Women and the Black Action Defense Committee. In 2014, she was presented with the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Social Justice.

Paulette Senior

Paulette Senior – photo

Paulette Senior is the CEO of YWCA Canada, one of the leading women’s organizations in Canada. She is known as one of the most respected leaders in the industry for her dedication and commitment to advocacy for women and girls across Canada.

Prior to working with YWCA Canada Paulette has spent her whole career in the nonprofit sector. Throughout her career, she has been a formidable advocate at local, provincial, and federal levels addressing matters pertinent to women and girls, youth, immigrants, poverty, housing, violence against women, social justice and anti-oppression. Ms. Senior, a graduate of York University, has been bestowed with several recognition awards including African Canadian Achievement Award | Black Women Civic Engagement Award | MicroSkills Margot Franssen Leadership Award | Woman of Influence citation.

Debbie Douglas

Debbie Douglas

Debbie Douglas is theExecutive Director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, (OCASI) where she leads a sector of more than 230 agencies concerned with immigrant and refugee integration and social and economic inclusion. A community advocate, she has actively worked to drive change and improve the quality of life for immigrants, women and racialized community members and issues of sexual orientation within the immigration system.

Debbie serves on numerous boards including the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement, Women’s College Hospital, and co-chairs the City of Toronto’s Newcomer Leadership Table. She is the former co-chair of the National Working Group on Immigration and Settlement at the Canadian Council for Refugees. In 2004, she received the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Award and in 2014 was the recipient of the Race Relations Award presented by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR). (Photo courtesy of

Fleurette Osborne

Fleurette Osborne – photo

Fleurette Osborne has been a longtime community activist who in 1981, became the first national president of the Congress of Black women. Under her leadership, the Congress grew from 4 chapters to 15 becoming one the most prominent black women’s organizations in Canada.

In 1993, Fleurette was appointed a member of the Canadian Coordinating Committee for the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. She has participated in numbers international forum on women rights including worked on numerous projects across Canada on issues of human rights, immigration, housing, to drive change and promote equality and justice for women and visible minorities.

By Karl A. Haughton



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