Quoted: the Toronto Star on Jessica Yee


We already covered this yesterday in links…but we felt it deserved a post of its own. We are very proud to announce that The Toronto Star — aka, ahem, Canada’s largest newspaper — has named Racialicious Special Correspondent Jessica Yee as one of 2010’s People to Watch.

Jessica Yee is a young woman on a mission. And at 23, she is wowing social justice activists twice her age with her passion and persistence. The eldest daughter of a Mohawk mother and a Chinese father, Yee was volunteering for a local women’s shelter when she was 12…By age 20, Yee pulled those experiences together to form the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, the first agency of its kind run by and for youth that isn’t focused solely on disease prevention.

Today the network is a North American force for healthy sexuality and reproductive rights, among other things. And as its founder and executive director, Yee has become a respected international youth leader who organizes UN conference forums on indigenous youth and writes, edits and produces books, videos and theatre about youth sexuality.

“We try to incorporate everything, from environmental justice to violence prevention, that you wouldn’t typically see within a sexual reproductive health mandate,” says Yee. One of Yee’s strengths is her ability to connect the dots, says Judy Rebick, who nominated Yee for the Toronto YWCA’s 2009 Young Woman of Distinction Award (she won).

“She’s got everything: She’s a great organizer, a great speaker. She’s very courageous and determined.”

Yee says her activism is rooted in her parents’ history as sex trade workers. Although they were also caught up in substance abuse and minor brushes with the law, they raised Yee and her younger sister, Jennifer, in a safe, loving environment, teaching them to be open-minded, pro-choice and socially responsible.

“My past is empowering,” Yee says. “It’s not belittling in any way. It shaped who I am.”

Congratulations Jessica! We are thrilled to be associated with you.