Interview: Yanique Russell, Planned Giving Advisory Committee

February 21, 2023

Tell us a little about yourself!

Hi, I’m Yanique Russell and I’m a Canadian Attorney who is the Founder and CEO of Global Immigration Services Jamaica, Yanique Russell Law & CollegePass Recruitment Inc. I hold a double major in Environmental Science from the University of the West Indies, Mona, an LLB from the University of London and two LLMs (law masters) from Osgoode Hall Law School.

As a lawyer, I practice in the areas of Canadian Immigration and Estates Law. As a Canadian immigrant, my passion to serve my community led me to launch my college recruitment company with a mission to make the international study experience more accessible to Caribbean and Latin Americans.


What makes you passionate about Humber River Hospital Foundation?

My life’s purpose is to positively impact the lives of everyone I come across and Humber River Hospital Foundation’s mission succinctly aligns with my quest to add value to people through service. I am passionate about Humber River Hospital’s use of technology and innovation to improve healthcare and increase the community’s access to premier healthcare because it presents a wonderful opportunity for me to serve my community. I also believe after my experience as a black woman who has been expected to tolerate pain longer and whose cries for help during childbirth at another hospital were silenced, if I am able to increase awareness of the need for, and the chances of my community gaining access to innovative healthcare solutions, then I would have fulfilled my purpose.


What do you hope to accomplish as a member of our Planned Giving Advisory Committee?

I joined the Planned Giving Advisory Committee because I was impressed by its vision and mission. Being a member of the committee affords me the opportunity to work with other amazing professionals who are passionate about improving access to healthcare and overall community service. As an estate lawyer of the Planned Giving Advisory Committee, I am able to help to educate community members on the direct benefits of leaving a gift to HRH Foundation.

There are several persons who are still of the belief that planned giving is an arduous task. Our aim is that our joint work as a committee, we will be able to educate and assist persons who wish to support the mission of HRH Foundation. I hope to be able to use the law to positively impact my community and effect change through advising and guiding givers through the process.


Is there a Program of Care that you are particularly passionate about?

I am most passionate about Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Pregnancy and childbirth, though remarkable, can be very dangerous, even for a healthy mother. We have seen the statistics that show the neglect and mistreatment women of color experience during such a vulnerable time such as childbirth. In 2019, I experienced 22 hours of labour at another hospital before the doctors and nurses believed that I really was unable to deliver the baby naturally. Their ultrasound results showed a 6lb baby and to them, a 33-year-old woman should be able to push a baby that size. If the hospital had sufficient technology, they would have been able to tell my baby was actually 10lbs and not 6, and would have concluded way earlier that I would require a c-section. I think it was all those hours of non- movement that caused blood clots to develop in my leg, and eventually getting to my lung. I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism two weeks later during class.

I am therefore very passionate about working towards a systematic approach to reduce and prevent pregnancy and childbirth complications and mortality, especially in the black community.


Can you tell us more about your amazing mentorship program for law students the Caribbean and Latin America? Why do you feel strongly about helping these students?

To whom much is given, much is expected. I was mentored and supported by lawyers and law coaches during my time as a law student at Osgoode Hall and this provided a little padding as I traversed the licensing journey. It is important to be able to connect with individuals who have travelled the road you intend on taking, so as to be able to learn from their experience, and avoid some of the pitfalls and roadblocks, because of the guidance of others. When I landed in Canada in 2018, I was clueless about the licensing process. Currently, there are lawyers and law students in the Caribbean and Latin American region at large who are totally unaware of the Canadian licensing process. I was helped, so I have made it my duty to help others. Therefore, I have embarked on a mission to educate, mentor and sponsor internationally trained law students and lawyers who are seeking an opportunity to be licensed or re-licensed in Canada. It is my way of throwing the rope back and I get an opportunity to meet amazing persons, hear some beautiful stories, and to ignite hope in the lives of individuals. It is an honour and a privilege and an amazingly rewarding opportunity just to be able to pay it forward.

I feel strongly about helping students from the region because most of these countries are seen as third-world countries. It is therefore perceived as a mammoth mission to pursue international studies, let alone becoming a lawyer in a first world country as Canada. Representation is critical. A mission is much easier achieved if you know it has already been attained by someone like you. Sometimes, all that is required is a little motivation – hearing the story of someone who did it before you, for you to realize that it is possible. For you to catch a glimmer of hope and appreciate that it is not as farfetched as you first thought it was. I enjoy motivating others to become their full selves, and if that is a Canadian lawyer- I am happy to guide them to find their place.


What is something you wish everyone understood about estate planning?

I wish everyone understood that besides death, the other certainty is taxes. In estate planning, any two of either the government, your loved ones or the charity may get their assets. It’s much better to leave a gift to a charity and benefit directly from the tax implications of charitable bequests, than to leave their assets to the government. Planned giving is rewarding and your gift can make a huge impact to a worthy cause. You help make a difference when decide to leave a gift in your will. With a voice of compassion and an act of kindness, we can build a better future for someone else.


We are hoping to add even more lawyers to our Planned Giving Advisory Committee – What would you say to another lawyer who was on the fence about getting involved?

If you are looking for an opportunity to be able to serve the community and support a worthy cause, you should get off the fence and become a member of the Planned Giving Committee. I believe true wealth is being able to positively impact the lives of others and if you are on a journey to attain true wealth, then you should get involved with helping others.