James grew up on a mixed livestock farm in the heart of the Little Saskatchewan River Valley near Rapid City, Manitoba. Being exposed to the beauty and wilderness of that region instilled in him a strong appreciation for nature.
James’s passionate commitment to social justice and poverty reduction was demonstrated early in life. At the age of six, he received media acclaim and an Appreciation Award from the Salvation Army for organizing a craft sale that helped raise nearly $1,500 for programs that helped poor people.
In 2006, James graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in political studies and economics, and with a Bachelor of Law in 2013.
After obtaining his first degree, James became actively involved with the Green Party of Manitoba, serving as a member-at-large, policy co-chair, and president before being elected as leader in 2008. He has also served as a Green Party of Manitoba candidate in 2007 (Minnedosa), 2009 (Elmwood) and 2011 (Wolseley).
From 2008-2013, James balanced his Green Party leadership duties with part-time law studies and part-time employment as an environmental research consultant. In 2013, he stepped down as leader so that he could focus on completing his articles of law to obtain his call the Manitoba Bar. In 2014, he was again elected as Green Party leader.
In addition to his duties as a lawyer (at Jerch Law) and Green Party leader, James also serves on the boards of the Manitoba Eco-Network and the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.