Canada’s First Black and Jewish Party Leader
Annamie Paul (b. 1972) was born in Toronto to parents from the Caribbean islands of Nevis and Dominica. She was interested in politics from childhood, and at the age of 12, started working as an assistant in Ontario’s provincial parliament. From there, she became an assistant in Canada’s Senate. She went to law school at the University of Ottawa, passed the bar in 1998, and also got a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton. It was while studying at Princeton that Paul took a greater interest in Judaism, and started learning with the head of the university’s Center for Jewish Life. Soon, she decided to convert, and although she studied primarily with a Conservative Jewish rabbi, went on to do a full Orthodox conversion. Paul married international human rights lawyer Mark Freeman, and the two made sure to put their kids through Jewish schools, and continue to keep a kosher home today. Meanwhile, in 2001, Paul founded the Canadian Centre for Political Leadership, an organization focused on getting more minorities and more women into government. She was also part of Canada’s Mission to the European Union, and worked at the International Criminal Court. She has won a number of awards for her human rights work and social activism. In 2019, Paul became a member of the Green Party of Canada and, earlier this month, was elected its leader. That makes her the first Jewish and first black woman to lead a political party in Canada.
Words of the Week
Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.
– Theodor Herzl