Thursday, 26 May 2011

Child Care Month

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to rise today to recognize Child Care Month – May – and Child Care Provider Appreciation Day – May 19th.

Just this morning, I attended the Child Care Awards of Excellence in Vancouver. This event honoured not just child care professionals from across B.C., but also organizations and local governments – including the District of West Vancouver and, I’m very proud to say, the City of Richmond – for outstanding service to children and families. It’s wonderful to see communities being recognized – because I firmly believe that strong, supportive and engaged communities are a key to creating a quality child care system that meets the needs of local families.

We have a range of child care options in B.C., which are often tailored to meet the unique needs of the children and families they serve: young parents still in school, Aboriginal children and families, and children with special needs to name a couple examples. I’m proud that this government has supported early learning and child care for many years, knowing the incredible difference it makes in the lives of children.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the members of the House join me in recognizing and celebrating Child Care Month. And, to our thousands of amazing child care professionals I say ‘thank you’ for the work you do every day to help our little ones learn and grow and blossom – and for the peace of mind you bring to thousands of parents.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

24th Annual Down Syndrome Conference

It was my absolute pleasure to welcome the delegates to Richmond and the 24th Annual Down Syndrome Conference which opened at the Delta Airport Hotel on May 20. The following is an excerpt from my speech: 'Communication and socialization are necessary. Children need to be able to communiate their wishes and desires to their peers. We are designed to interact. We may not always know the best ways to proceed or the best ways to elicit those behaviours but I pay tribute to researchers everywhere who are refining our practices with their insights. The Down Syndrome Research Foundation here in BC has taught me much about the horizon. The future is bright. It is a good time to be born. Thank you for all the fine work you do, both as parents and professionals. It has given me great joy to be with you this morning.'

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Cystic Fibrosis

My Statement in the Legislature on May 18, 2011:

Mr. Speaker, for thousands of people living in communities throughout Canada, Cystic Fibrosis is very much a reality. Cystic Fibrosis is the most common, fatal generic disease affecting young Canadians today. While the vast majority of us take simple acts such as breathing for granted, most of those living with Cystic Fibrosis must undergo hours of physical and inhalation therapy each and every day. This is just one of the many physical hardships facing those living with the disease, Mr. Speaker, and it is why May has been declared Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month to help bring a greater understanding to those who live with it every day.

There is currently no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. In the 1960s, most children with Cystic Fibrosis did not live long enough to attend kindergarten. Today, half of all Canadians with Cystic Fibrosis are expected to live into their 40s and beyond. This could not have been done without the amazing fundraising efforts sponsored by Cystic Fibrosis Canada. The Great Strides walk, which takes place this month in communities across the county, and Shinerama, where post-secondary students from coast to coast collect donations every September for Cystic Fibrosis research. We must also recognize Kin Canada for their continued support in raising funds and awareness to help combat this disease.

It is through fundraisers and dedicated volunteers such as these that will one day help make CF stand not for Cystic Fibrosis, Mr. Speaker, but for ‘Cure Found.’  Mr. Speaker, it’s time to breathe new life into this disease.

Camp Olave

My Statement in the Legislature on May 17, 2011:

I rise today Mr. Speaker to celebrate Girl guides of Canada's Camp Olave.

Camp Olave is located at Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast and has served young Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers an their leaders for the past eighty years. The Camp was previously tax exempt but a municipal boundary change altered their tax status. His Worship Mayor Inkster and his council provided a grant in lieu of taxes owing for this tax year. I am grateful to the council and the to the countless friends of Camp Olave, including the MLA for Powell River Sunshine Coast who did a fabulous job, and girls and guiders, past and present, who embraced safeguarding Camp Olave for future generations.

The motto for guiding is Be Prepared and we are! We are building a Camp Olave Endowment Fund and we would welcome your support. We need to be prepared should a grant in lieu of taxes not be available in the future. Please make contact with the Victoria Foundation and offer your support. Guiding in Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010 and with your support the organization will continue to offer programs of leadership to young women for generations to come.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Cancer Survivor Parks

My Statement in the Legislature on May 9, 2011:

I'd like to dedicate my remarks today to someone I miss each day. Her name is Kathy Hatlen. Cancer Survivors Parks - because "what's outside can help heal what's inside." There are currently 22 cancer survivor parks in North America, a legacy created by Richard and Annette Bloch and their foundation.

The Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park in Ottawa is a public park offering green space for reflection, sculptures, a healing garden with stones of hope, motivation and so much more. This cancer survivors park is the second of its kind in Canada and will offer a place of serenity and inspiration to cancer patients and survivors, their friends and family. I am working for the creation of a third such park in Richmond, British Columbia.

Each park is unique, though they maintain three common elements. In each park there's a sculpture called "Cancer, there is hope," created by the renowned Mexican sculptor Victor Somanes. The piece features eight life-sized figures passing through a maze depicting cancer treatments and successes.

"A positive mental attitude walk." This is an area that visitors can stroll through, meditate and read through 14 plaques which feature inspirational words and suggestions inspired by Richard Bloch.

And a "Road to Recovery," with seven plaques explaining what cancer is and basic actions to assist in recovery — a place of peace and reflection. I hope each of you will have the opportunity one day to visit.

U'mista Cultural Centre and the Power of Giving

My Statement in the Legislature on May 3, 2011:

Life is not just about moments that leave you breathless but rather the moments that take your breath away. One of these moments was the opening of the Power of Giving art exchange in Alert Bay, British Columbia. Art is the exchange of ideas and values, exactly what transpired when the 'Namgis First Nation and the people of Dresden, Germany, decided to share their most precious artifacts, when an extremely large museum exchanged their treasures with the U'mista Cultural Centre on Cormorant Island.

When items representing the baroque period in history came to British Columbia and the world's finest mask collection went 11,000 kilometres across the globe to Dresden, Germany, it was a journey of respect for us and for those that come after. "The world cannot be safe for democracy unless it is safe for diversity." These words were spoken by renowned First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers at the 2011 DIVERSEcity Awards. It was such a pleasure to hear him speak.

We agree that art is about telling stories, about showcasing cultures, and we both know that diversity needs to be celebrated each and every day. I don't believe there's a better example of showcasing cultures today than the exchange entitled Power of Giving.

Special thanks to Dr. Martin Roth, who invited me to participate; Consul General Sitz; and the many wonderful German visitors who have fallen in love with Cormorant Island. You will always be welcome. I would encourage all British Columbians to take in the exhibit on Cormorant Island, which will run through to August 28, 2011.

National Child and Youth Mental Health

Mental Health challenges affect 15% of Canadian children and youth. - 4 or 5 students in every classroom of thirty students across the Nation struggle in the classroom, in making friends, in participating in activities and in functioning in their families. Many years ago a young Mom came to meet with me, keen to make life better for her son, and keen to work hard for all children and their families experiencing a mental health challenge. This women is extraordinary - her name is Keli Anderson and she is a Founder of the new National Institute of Families for Child and Youth Mental Health. I attended on May 7 where they brought together individuals interested in establishing "Family Smart" as an identity that will be used to endorse programs, practices, policies, services and research that families have identified as helpful and meaningful to them.How wonderful! I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Keli and her colleagues for their outstanding work.

For more information on "Family Smart" and the National Institute please contact