The Honourable Yonah Martin (born April 11, 1965) is a Conservative Senator from British Columbia, appointed by The Right Hon. Stephen Harper in 2009. She is the first Canadian of Korean descent to serve in the Senate of Canada and the first Korean-Canadian parliamentarian in Canadian history.
Senator Martin is currently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (since November 2015). She previously served as the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate (2013-2015); and as the Deputy Whip of the Government (2011-2013). She has been Co-Chair of the Canada Korea Inter-Parliamentary Group since 2009; and Chairs or serves on the Executive of various interparliamentary groups. In November 2015, she co-founded International Parliamentary Coalition for Victims of Sexual Slavery (IPCVSS), and currently serves as Co-Chair of Canada.
Her notable achievements as a Senator to date include the enactment of her Senate Public Bill – Korean War Veterans Day Act (June 2013); the successful campaign to add TCM and Acupuncturists to the schedule of health professionals for GST/HST exemption (April 2014); and the conclusion of a multi-year negotiation process and implementation of the historic Canada Korea FTA (January 2016).
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Yonah Martin immigrated to Canada in 1972, and resided in Metro-Vancouver ever since. She earned a Bachelor of Education in 1987 from University of British Columbia and had a 21-year teaching career (1987-2008) until her appointment to the Senate. She earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in 1996. She later co-founded C3 Korean Canadian Society, a non-profit organization that aims to “bridge communities”. Currently, she serves as Honorary Patron of C3, in addition to serving on several regional, national and international Boards and Advisory Councils.
In recognition of her community service in the Tri-Cities region, Yonah Martin was awarded the 2004 Spirit of Community Award for Cultural Harmony. In 2009, she was awarded the Order of Civil Merit Moran Medal by the president of the Republic of Korea for outstanding leadership and work in advancing the rights of overseas Koreans; and in 2012, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Governor General David Johnston. In 2014, as part of UBC’s centennial campaign, she was recognized as one of UBC’s top Education 100 Alumni; and in February 2016, she was honoured with the King Clancy Award from the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons (CFPDP). Most recently, Yonah Martin was among 100 Canadians to be featured (for 1965, her birth year) in MacLean’s special Canada Day issue of “Canada’s Stories“, to mark the magazine’s 100th anniversary.
She has been married to Doug Martin for over 25 years, and they are proud parents of a daughter, Kiana Mi-Sun.