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Black History Month with Dr. Jean Augustine

In February, in honour of Black History Month, Publicis Groupe Canada invited the Honourable Jean Augustine to speak to us about her background and life story as the Mother of Black History Month in Canada. What an incredible opportunity to have her speak and share her pivotal role in Canadian history both as a woman and BIPOC. We were also thankful to have her help educate us on important issues related to the cause.

25 years ago, February was officially acknowledged as Black History Month in Canada. Dr. Augustine led the charge to make this happen, bringing forth a motion that was supported unanimously in Parliament. Dr. Augustine says it best, “Black history is not just for Black people – Black history is Canadian history.”

When it came to her talk with us over Zoom one of our coworkers, Anita Gilliam had this to say:

“Charisma and strength shone throughout the entire event. You couldn’t help but smile, laugh, cry and empathize as you listened to her speak of her own journey and advocacy for herself and the community. I couldn’t help but be in awe as she spoke so humbly about literally being a historical figure and the change she was able to make throughout her career. I loved the comment where she talked to the fact that she didn’t really plan to go into politics, it was just something that happened. She realized that if it wasn’t going to be her, who was going to do it?

Publicis listened as Dr. Augustine explained that becoming an ally to the black community meant not only voicing your support but also continuing to educate others, especially those younger, about Canada’s Black History. Dr. Augustine was passionate about the hope to one day pass along to torch so that black history education can be spread to all Canadians.

Another quote from Dr. Augustine that felt exceptionally poignant to Anita was, “We have crafted human history by nurturing , developing, and shaping the lives of our children.” At Publicis, we agree. We should all continue to be learning, to become better versions of ourselves no matter our age.

As part of our Publicis Groupe Canada Diversity & Inclusion mandate, Publicis has committed to giving back, and educating our teams to help create a better community all around. To show our support as a company during such an important commemoration in Canada as Black History Month, Publicis donated the Dr. Augustine’s speaking fee to support the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York University. We encouraged employees to also make a donation if they could.

To learn more about the Honourable Jean Augustine, and her many hard-fought accomplishments, please visit

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