“Real power, the power that lasts, the power that makes change happen, is the kind we build on the ground,” Yolanda said in accepting the Cliff Pilkey award for outstanding contribution to the labour movement. “Building power means making gains for all workers and responding to new forms of white supremacy, because the work of anti-racism is not just the burden of those who experience racism – it’s our collective work.”

As Second Vice President for CUPE Ontario, Diversity Vice President for CUPE National, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist Canada and an executive member of CBTU International, Yolanda has dedicated herself to building an inclusive union movement that makes sure the voices of all workers are heard.

Yolanda’s work at the grass roots level has created space for a diversity of voices in the labour movement. She has matched that with work to change leadership structures to make more space for those voices around our top tables.

“Having not just one but multiple voices from marginalized communities at the decision-making table, is absolutely vital to our movement,” Yolanda said. “It is an honour to be given this award, but I’ve got to be honest – I share this with a lot of people. None of us are leaders by ourselves. We are leaders because we work collectively, we inspire each other, we have each other’s backs, and most importantly – we share a vision of a beautiful and fair world.”