Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
Jessica Yee
YWCA Toronto young woman of distinction 2009
Courtesy of YMCA Toronto

Jessica Yee is fearless in her audacity as an organizer, educator, writer, facilitator, and activist. At 23 she has already spent almost half of her life committed to promoting and supporting youth, through feminist and aboriginal activism and has created numerous platforms to channel these movements. Jessica Yee is the 2009 Young Woman of Distinction.

When most twelve year olds were engaged in pop culture, Jessica was volunteering at a shelter for women fleeing abuse, an experience that fueled her desire to help other women. A multiracial Indigenous young woman of Chinese and Mohawk ancestry her work focuses on sexual and reproductive health initiatives. Jessica is the founder and director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, a North America-wide organization working on issues of healthy sexuality, cultural competency, youth empowerment, reproductive justice, and sex positivity by and for Native youth. She has travelled across the continent mobilizing individuals, families, and communities alike to reclaim their ancestral rights to govern their own bodies.

In the past few years she worked on the front lines in South Dakota to repeal the ban on abortion in the first U.S. state to illegalize abortion since Roe v. Wade. In November 2008, she led the Emergency Native American Task Force. At Canadians for Choice, a pro-choice, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring reproductive choice for all Canadian women, Jessica brought a new generation of young women into the pro-choice struggle and challenged the movement to become more diverse and youth centered. She has organized numerous pro-choice conferences in Toronto for young women and initiated the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Committee to address the realities faced in Aboriginal communities that so often go unnoticed.

Jessica is an advocate for the voice of youth, and uses the arts as a valuable means to meet youth where they are, on their terms. She has written and directed performances of the Choice Monologues, a compilation of one-person skits in which people relate their experience of being faced with an unplanned pregnancy in a variety of circumstances, provinces, and eras. She is also the National Youth Coordinator for the Taking Action Project - Art and Aboriginal Youth Leadership for HIV Prevention, which involves Aboriginal youth in different parts of Canada as HIV prevention leaders, using both traditional art forms and new media approaches.

Currently, she is collaborating with Good for Her on a pilot project called the Sexual Health Education and Pleasure Project (SHEPP) for youth in Toronto, that aims to challenge conventional methods of sex education and look at empowering young people with practical pleasure-based information. Jessica is the Youth Coordinator for the Highway of Tears Initiative, which is focused on the disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women in British Columbia, where she recently completed filming and directing the documentary "Building a Highway of Hope". She is a Board Member of Maggie’s: Sex Workers Organizing, and has been an equity and diversity presenter for the Law Society of Upper Canada. She is also currently teaching with the Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health, where she designs and facilitates online courses to participants across Canada

Jessica is an activist of the Web 2.0 generation, using Facebook, blogs, and online magazines and forums to speak, mobilize and educate people on issues that she is passionate about. Her articles have appeared on,,,, in Shameless Magazine, in the Turtle Island Native News and she has contributed to the Globe and Mail. She also coordinated and edited the much anticipated "Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Communities of Colour, and Sexuality", published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Jessica welcomes everyone into her circle, and encourages them through her enthusiasm, open vibrant personality and genuine care. She is an inspiring role model for other young women and girls who have participated in her workshops.

The Young Woman of Distinction Award includes a $3,000 grant from the Julia M. Ruby Fund at YWCA Toronto. With this grant, Jessica intends to pursue a Masters Degree in Health Promotion and to train with SHINE SA, Sexual Health Information Networking and Education in Australia. It is world-renowned for its Indigenous feminist roots and is a leader in culturally competent sexual education awareness. For her fierce spirit and commitment to young women, Jessica Yee is the YWCA 2009 Young Woman of Distinction.

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!