Black History Month is a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of black Canadians who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation we know today. In December 1995, THe Parliament of Canada officially recognized Febaruary as Black History Month, a motion carried unanimously by the House of Commons.
This year we invite you to take part in the festivities and events that honour the legacy of black Canadians, past and present and engage. Each day new content will be posted here.
Yolande James, born in Montreal is a civil law graduate from the Université de Montreal and a holder of a common law degree from Queen’s University. She was the recipient of the Senator Frank Carrel Scholarship and was called to the Quebec Bar in 2004.
Yolande was first elected to the Quebec National Assembly for the riding of Nelligan in 2004 and was re-elected in 2007, 2008 and 2012. From 2005 to 2007 she was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities.
On April 18th, 2007, she was appointed Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities. As head of the department, at the height of the highly contentious Reasonable Accommodation debate, Yolande was mandated to implement the recommendations ordered by the Bouchard-Taylor Commission (notably implementing tools to better manage diversity).
Being aware of the challenges facing visible minorities, especially in their access to employment, she initiated, created and implemented the Valorisation Jeunesse Program with the objective of offering young people access to defining professional job opportunities. The program also helped to ensure that the workforce better reflect diversity.
In 2010, she was appointed Minister of Families, managing one of the government’s most substantial portfolios after Health and Education. As head of this department, she overhauled the governance for subsidized daycare spots that are critically important to working families. Yolande was the first Black female Member of the National Assembly, as well as Quebec’s first Black Cabinet Minister. She was Deputy House Leader for the Official Opposition from September 2012 to April 2013.
After the birth of her son, she left politics following the 2014 general election.
Since leaving politics, Yolande works as a political analyst for a slew of different programs for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Network)-Radio Canada, including RDI’s Les EX and CBC’s Power and Politics.