Zanana Akande

Zanana Akande

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Zanana Akande

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Zanana L. Akande (born 1937) is a former Canadian politician. 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.

A daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean, she became a teacher and school principal in the Toronto public school system. In 1990, she was elected in the provincial election as an NDP candidate in the Toronto riding of St. Andrew—St. Patrick. She was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Community and Social Services but resigned amidst controversy a year later. In 1992, she was named parliamentary assistant to Premier Bob Rae. In 1994 she quit politics after a dispute over the handling of an investigation and firing of Ontario civil servant Carlton Masters.

As of 2009, Akande is retired but continues to be involved in the community, serving as a volunteer on boards and committees of local organizations including the YWCA and Centennial College.


Akande was born in downtown Toronto in the Kensington Market district. Her parents came from St. Lucia and Barbados where they had worked as teachers. They were prevented from continuing their careers in Canada because at the time Blacks were not allowed to hold teaching positions.Ann Farrell. Zanana Akande: first Black woman in Ontario’s legislature. Section 2004....
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