Peel CAS is excited to welcome Jean Samuel as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “I am excited to help guide the work of the agency,” says Jean. “Peel CAS is known as a leader and trailblazer in anti-oppressive work. A good foundation has already been developed within the agency and I feel I can help push it to the next level. My goal is to ensure that when we work with families, equity is our first thought, not an afterthought.”
As a racialized black woman Jean has experienced many inequities. While she has done extensive training and development in the area of diversity, it was a personal choice made many years ago that led her to start her career helping empower other women. “I actually wrote myself a mission statement,” says Jean. “I vowed to do something in my life that would help others to realize they could be a master of their own identity and successfully navigate life as a racialized woman.”
Jean started her own grassroots organization Arise International Promotions, and dedicated five years to empowering women of colour. When she was no longer able to secure funding for her organization, she began work in the child welfare field at Durham Children’s Aid Society and later went on to work with both child welfare agencies in Hamilton. “I actually wasn’t doing equity work when I first started in child welfare,” says Jean. “However I made sure to let the organization know it was a passion of mine and that I was willing to help when the agency was ready to move forward with the work.”
The result? About six months later, Jean began working as a diversity facilitator on a part time basis. “I started off doing only a couple days a week. However, the work expanded and I became a trained facilitator in anti-oppressive practice. I started out training staff within the agency, and eventually got to work with staff at other agencies across Ontario. I was also fortunate to develop an equity course for the field and work on the agency’s five-year strategic plan for equity.”
A personal move to be closer to aging family led Jean to Hamilton CAS and then on to Hamilton Catholic CAS where she managed anti-oppressive practice and all diversity projects for the next 14 years. It was when she saw the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position at Peel CAS, she decided to make another important choice that led her to where she is today.
Jean sees the recent announcement of a partnership between Peel CAS and Black Community Action Network Peel (BCAN), as another step forward to better serve African Canadian families. “I am very excited about this partnership which will help provide direction to organizations like Peel CAS to be more culturally appropriate and safe,” says Jean. “We have made a commitment to being accountable for providing child welfare services that meet the needs of Black children in families in Peel.