By Gerald V. Paul
Reality Bites: A mother told Dr. Jean Augustine how her son made the Honour Roll but his father was unimpressed.
Reality Bites: A Grade 10 student does not know the name Jean Augustine (in reference to her as a community leader). Augustine was the person who made Black History Month possible in Canada.
Grenada-born Augustine, Ontario’s first fairness commissioner, called for the continued empowerment of our community from young people to adults as she addressed a distinguished gathering at the Toronto Lions Bathurst Club’s 42nd Anniversary Fundraising Brunch, at a packed Scarlet Ibis Family Restaurant last Sunday.
She stressed the need to vote at all levels of government in the municipal election and the next federal election. Young people need to know the issues, the things that will affect them and vote accordingly and know their history, she said.
“They have come from a rich past. It is important for our young people to understand the political system. To go out and vote,” Augustine said.
Augustine, gleaned words of wisdom from her post-grad in education to inspire and be inspired from her life along the years with one of her salient quotes: Success in life is determined by the choices we make now – a sowing and reaping.
“I worry about our young people in several ways,” Augustine lamented, including unemployment.
She rhetorically asked: “What then is missing for our Black families? The support of the traditional extended family – communal environment; Recognition of the social inequities; poor parenting – Lions you are helping to build in this area; understand media images. Stay positive.”
The former president of the Congress of Black Women referenced Zig Ziglar’s book Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World, urging love more, judge less.
She called on the community to set goals: proper planning prevents poor performance. The little things are the important things. The seeds of success are sown in homes; spend positive time with children.
On mentoring, she said that parents are the number one mentor. You cannot be their friend and mentor / parent at the same time. Then there is the importance of an education. Encouraging young people to stay in school can make our children winners.
Augustine said the Ontario College of Education looked at the issue of resilience. We can teach our youth to be winners and encourage them. Don’t compare one with the other. Each child is a unique individual. Let them express their anger. The child has stress and challenges, so parents have to help them.
Another bit of advice: “If I had my children to raise all over again – self-esteem first, house later. Stop being serious. Seriously play. Firm less. Affirm more.”
In keeping with the motto Strengthening the Pride and mission of Toronto Bathurst Lions Club, she said, “To empower volunteers in serving their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through the Lions Club.”
Augustine, who was awarded the Luminary Award by the University of The West Indies (UWI) in 2006, shared her words of inspiration and hope in remembering such stalwarts as Robert Payne, Austin Clarke, and Al Mercury and a young Shelton Taylor – now Dr. Taylor.
Bathurst Lions Club President Abdullah Gamandie said the club is about empowerment of the next generation. He encouraged the community to support their coming events: Children’s Christmas Treat and Toys and Seniors Citizens Luncheon in December.
Gamandie presented a token of their appreciation, a cheque on behalf of the club to Jean Augustine Charity Legacy at Humber College as part of their empowerment in the community.